Sep 062017

I have been writing here for somewhere around a year and a half now.  Many days I wonder how much longer I’ll keep it up as I scuffle to find something of significance to write.  Some days I’m eager to write about a pressing topic while many others it’s a struggle to think of anything I think I can write about in any meaningful way. 


Blog writing demands a regular filling of material, at least where there is a desire to keep an active blog of participants and readers.  I honestly don’t know how Michael has done it all these years.

When I do take on a topic with some weight to it, I often find myself not landing completely on either of the frequently already developed polarized sides.  I do not set out to find a neutral mushy middle, but rather to honestly evaluate the nuance and the comprehensive rightness and wrongness of the many facets of an issue.  I do this far from perfectly as I do not nearly have the mental capacity or knowledge to thoroughly think through every aspect of an issue, and as much as I try to intentionally avoid biases and unnecessary filters, I am sure I still succumb to some level of my own proclivities.  Yet my desire is to accomplish these ambitions the best I can.

I then attempt to communicate what I think and believe about said topic.  On points that I think are pretty clearly right and wrong I will state my opinions in a stronger fashion.  On other points that don’t appear as clear, I will try to communicate as such and convey that I think we should be more open to allowing for exploration and difference of opinion.  Again, by no means am I perfect in making these determinations or in my manner of communicating them as I certainly am not the final authority on all truth and I am far from a master writer or communicator.  But on the whole, I try to write in a manner to generate discourse and consideration of varying aspects and/or viewpoints on an issue.

 I think we often have good and fruitful periods of discussion here.  However, because I often do not fully land in an already existing fully entrenched camp, I end up leaving myself vulnerable….. times two.  And it is usually not a fun place to be.  To some, I am a disingenuous liberal who tries to disguise myself as a conservative.  To others, I am a scum of the earth racist who cavorts among my other disgusting conservative friends.  Both sides sometimes see me as some kind of wishy-washy prude who won’t take a stand and fulfill my Christian responsibilities, such as my duty to vote for Trump or alternatively my duty to disagree with and denounce every single thing the man does and says.

There are plenty like me who are comfortable not always having to exclusively choose one side or the other.  But the louder, more aggressive, more castigating voices seemingly come more frequently from those on the ends, not the middle.  These voices are not that frequently engendered at this blog, or at least are kept in check to some degree by the community.  Other venues (online and offline), however, can be a different story when one voices their opinion.  And when that opinion doesn’t fully satisfy either side, the charges can come painfully barreling in from opposite sides.

This will not cause me, however, to fundamentally change how I go about writing and conversing here or in other settings.  I like to think through things and I like to try to help others to do the same.  To give an entreaty to others to not always stay in their boxes and consider that those with whom they differ may actually be right and worthwhile on some points on occasion.  Maybe even multiple occasions.

I will continue to state what I believe to be right and wrong even if it upsets opposing sides at the same time and I am told how wrong and messed up I am.  But I will also try to do so as honestly and reasonably and respectfully as I can.  Sometimes even in the ensuing discussion, I will come to see where I need to tweak some of my stated beliefs, if not even possibly make significant changes, and I will try to acknowledge as much.  Again, I do not do these things anywhere nearly perfectly, but they are still my aims.

I try to set some kind of example in these ways as I believe God has gifted me with some ability to logically and reasonably and honestly work through issues without a strong propensity to always have to line up with a predetermined group or position.  Others may think I’m misguided or just full of it.  My abilities are fallible, but I hope in some sense I have helped or encouraged at least a few to think through some specific issues, or in general have helped the manner in which they approach or think through meaningful issues and circumstances.  As long as I believe God is guiding me to write and converse as such, I will do so.  And, of course when comes to this blog, I always have Michael who could say, “That’s hogwash”, to some article I write and choose not to run it.  🙂

I have spent much of this article writing about myself.  But I don’t want to end that way because it is not and should not be about me.  I don’t even like the spotlight, in the first place.  I choose to write here because of this community.  The Phoenix Preacher community and further still, the extended family of God.  This has always been an odd and unique place.  And I believe it is in some ways the “Via Media” that Dr. Arnold wrote about so well on Monday.  May it continue to be a place of peculiar fellowship where we encourage, learn from, and challenge each other.  All in the name of following after Christ, our mutual Savior.

  22 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: Stuck In The Middle with You”

  1. KevinH,

    I’m just glad you haven’t let the critics run you off.
    This is a lot harder than most people know….

    I think we have a responsibility as Christians to model what kingdom communications should look like.
    We also have a responsibility to call people to honest wrestling with issues,not just knee jerk reactions molded by the various media.

    You’re doing good stuff here, my friend.

  2. “To some, I am a disingenuous liberal who tries to disguise myself as a conservative. To others, I am a scum of the earth racist who cavorts among my other disgusting conservative friends. ”

    Welcome to my world!

    You do good stuff. It is hard to keep generating content week after week, for sure. When Michael runs out of content, he just makes stuff up about Calvary Chapel. 🙂

  3. “When Michael runs out of content, he just makes stuff up about Calvary Chapel. 🙂”


  4. Thanks, Michael and Josh.

    Josh, don’t worry, when I start running out of material, I’ll start making things up about the Baptists. 🙂

  5. The idea of a “middle” position between two polar is possible in some matters. Another related, and to me important, concept is the idea of an open mind to hear in good faith the positions of both sides of an issue. Most of our opportunities in these discussions require training, disciplining and sometimes forcing ourselves to listen and consider other views. It can also help us to see other view points as coming from good faith human beings, even if we ultimately disagree on an issue.

    Had it not been for listening and considering on this blog, I may not have moved (certainly not along my personal timeline) from Methodism to Lutheranism. Even as a Lutheran, I continue find good theology in other traditions, which is compatible with Lutheranism, but may be neglected or underappreciated in popular Lutheran theological literature.

  6. I think the idea of the middle rubs some people the wrong way because they equate the middle with what Jesus said about being lukewarm. They then question your salvation and faith and when that kind of rhetoric arises, you are already at a disadvantage in the conversation. If there is any conversation left.

  7. Kevin,

    Being in the middle is harder than people know. You’re doing good work and enhancing the conversation that needs to take place. It’s easy to yell slogans, it’s hard to articulate nuance… At least that is my experience.

  8. I know Michael has a bunch of other things on his plate beyond the Phoenix Preacher.

    But many are missing his take on the Bible, culture, the Church, and cats.

    Just saying. 🙂

  9. good conversation here – as i read i wonder if the Church should be in the middle on anything… ?
    and now i’m mentally trying to place the Body of Christ geometrically and it isn’t working LOL

  10. Duane and Kevin, I just can’t imagine Jesus being a slogan kind of guy. Seems like he withdrew from those who looked to co-opt him to support their own agenda. Sounds all to familiar.

  11. Costco,

    Thanks, I think… 🙂

    I’ve got one more round of doctors appointments this week, then I hope to be more active.

    Right now, I’m just trying to find air that isn’t chewable…the smoke is getting to me.

  12. #10 Dan

    Indeed… the Beatitudes are certainly not slogans… you actually have to think about them!

  13. Michael, don’t overdo it – as if you needed me to tell you, but i needed to say it 🙂
    do you have access to the masks that they are handing out in some places here? this smoke is corrosive and one inhales particles as well as the gases … they advise washing the ash off of your cars because it is corrosive and not to brush it off as it will damage the paint job…
    one coast is burning down and the other is washing away, strange…

    i’m really mulling this topic today as i think there is an aspect of our stand as Believers that we haven’t identified… it is erroneous to say that Christians should be above it all as we wouldn’t be here, if that was the case… how to practice ambassadorship maybe… dunno … the world’s kingdoms are not ours, but we must function in the here and now while we are… here and now….

  14. n95 dust masks only ones effective against smoke particles per Oregon Health Authority. Available at Home Depot. Though sold out in many stores here in PDX. Amazon has them too.

  15. There’s always more in the middle that you notice. Those who aren’t in the middle, on whatever issue, are more vocal or visible. Even in your picture, the one in the middle is in a colour that doesn’t stand out like the green & red opposing sides.

  16. I really am trying to remember where Jesus took the middle road

    Not saying you’re wrong, please understand. You obviously are prayerful about it. It seems to me that what many think of Jesus in the middle is Jesus transcending the debate.

    Maybe you’d alleviate some tension if you find a way to transcend the debate… ?

    I dunno

  17. Eric

    Take the DACA debate. Basically both parties largely agree that Dreamers should remain here. But because both sides are so loud, nobody is hearing either side, let alone the middle.

  18. Descended,

    There is virulent opposition from some on the right and alt right on letting the Dreamers stay.

  19. Michael

    Outliers. Tail trying to wag the doggy.

  20. Descended,

    As politely as i can muster…you’re very, very, wrong.
    Go read Breitbart or watch this evenings Hannity crapfest.

  21. Michael

    That is just not the way most people out legislators feel.

    Alt right is named as such for the very reason they are outliers. You’re mistaking volume for presence.

  22. Its akin to the CC split. Most folks don’t want to see any kind of exit.

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