The Middle

Theology Thursday

I live in the Middle. I don’t mean like in the show, exactly (although I am middle aged and middle class, whatever that is). I just mean that most of the time, whether I have clear views on an issue or muddy ones, I generally take a mediating stance.

You might think this would be boring, but as a friend once observed, “The trouble with being in the middle of the road is that traffic comes at you both ways.”

What? No.

What? But I don’t want to.

Maybe, but maybe that’s my kind of excitement. Anyway, not only is the Middle not boring when you’re in it, but I think it’s surprisingly surprising to many people who encounter it. Even if I identify as an Evangelical, say, people on both sides of the Evangelical fence are sometimes taken aback at this claim, for different reasons. Sometimes it feels like I did in London when someone would say, “I don’t really like Americans, but you lot are all right.”

My well-informed husband and my well-informed boss have very different political views from each other, and I find myself politically right in the Middle there, too, but I usually keep my mouth shut about politics and current events around both of them, because I respect them both and I am not well-informed. Besides, while neither one is likely to change my mind (or each others’), I couldn’t take either of them in a debate.

On the other hand, I tend to be a little more intent about my theological views. They’re still in the Middle, so I probably can’t say with metaphorical accuracy I feel more invested in fighting my “corner” when it comes to theology, but . . . but I do. I might not be able to take a true debate there, either, yet I’m more inclined to try. I hope this doesn’t make me dogmatic. I just believe learning and thinking theologically is important (and surprisingly practical), though I don’t believe I’m a true systematic theologian.

Athanasius: a real systematic theologian (photo--and icon--from St. Mary's Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church

Athanasius: a real systematic theologian. We’re pals, though.
(photo–and icon–from St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church

I begin my final seminary course in September and will finish it in May, and from what I understand, I will have to write a simultaneously comprehensive but concise document about my specific beliefs about certain core Christian doctrines. I’m not entirely sure exactly what the format or even the topics will be, but I’ve been thinking a lot over the last year or so about certain issues like the authority of the Bible and the gender of God and what self control really is and stuff like that. So, if I’m motivated and you’re lucky, maybe we’ll get to converse a little about some of that stuff this summer. It couldn’t hurt to practice, and maybe we’ll see if I’m really in the Middle or not.

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7 thoughts on “The Middle

  1. Yes Jenn,
    I will be right there in the Middle with you…..trying to write that big paper where we are supposed to take a side on things (I think)…..I am afraid there will be a number of sections of my paper where my stance will be “I am in the Middle on that one”. I sure hope that I won’t get kicked out of Seminary after eight years of working for this degree. I thought going to Seminary was going to get me out of the Middle and more on a side but it looks like actually (with the exception of women’s ordination) I just ended up more entrenched in the Middle. Ah well, no matter how hard I tried to change myself into a black and white person- I think God made me as a lover of the gray…..

  2. Hey Jenn,
    Sorry to intrude on much more high-brow matters, but I’ve lost you on twitter. Could you ping me a tweet so I can find you again 😉

    And yes, the middle is fun, but uncomfortable a lot of the time …

    • Yes, I’ll try. Twitter does that sometimes. I maintain they’re trying to start fights.

      You’re right–it’s uncomfortable. I’m starting to resign myself to the fact that there’s a part of me that must kind of enjoy the discomfort, though. I suspect being in the Middle is partly, if not entirely, a function of being a contrarian, and I find myself intent on seeing the other side of whatever issue is being flown, no matter what. I feel like I’m always trying to mess with my own comfort zone. Except when it comes to talking on the telephone. Please don’t ever make me phone you. 😉

    • I’m not so sure it’s safer . . . but it’s harder to pin down. 🙂 As for the view of Americans, I’m sure it’s nationwide, but these were Eastenders, so it probably makes even more sense!

      Thanks for stopping by again. Great to hear from you!

  3. Pingback: On Hold | That's a Jenn Story

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