“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise–why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool–why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” Ecclesiastes 7: 16-18
If I’ve learned one thing about doing eye exams it’s this: never discuss politics or religion with patients. Whenever a patient comes in with a particular political or religious rant and throws out the inevitable bait, “Whataya think about that doc?,” I cautiously steer the conversation back toward more mundane topics like bifocals, cataracts and how to treat blepharitis with lid scrubs–boring, maybe, but much safer.
Of course, it’s next to impossible to spend any time in the blogosphere without stumbling into a discussion of these hot topics. To make matters worse, the two are often mixed together like an explosive dollop of C-4 plastique. The subject is of intense interest to Christians who are constantly debating which political party most accurately represents the interests and spirit of the Gospel. In other words, is Jesus a Democrat or a Republican? Or put another way: if he wasn’t running himself, who would Jesus vote for (WWJVF)? Like “the making of many books,” there is “no end” to the opinions and passion surrounding religion and politics. So, I figured that if I was going to enter the fray, I first had to figure out where I am currently located on the political spectrum (after all, I’ve got to know what team colors to wear once the contest ensues). It’s been a while since I had given that question any consideration, so I decided to seek professional help.
Enter the OkCupid! Politics Test (the same folks who brought you the OkCupid! Dating Test). I had confidence that this scientific and no doubt rigorously validated psychometric instrument would lay bare, within a reasonable degree of confidence, my true political soul. I took the test and here are the results:
You are a Social Moderate (55% Permissive) and a Economic Conservative (60% Permissive). You are best described as a CENTRIST with a very well-developed sense of right and wrong and belief in economic fairness.
I guess I wasn’t that surprised since I’ve found myself occupying the center more and more over the past decade after camping out on the right wing during my 20s and early 30s. Real life experience, it seems, has taught me that more than one ideology is often needed to tackle complex problems and that there is more than one way to skin a cat (to cat lovers: this is a figure of speech–please don’t call PETA).
What was a little suprising to me was that I was a Libertarian-leaning Centrist, who, when mapped on the famous person grid, landed just below “The Donald’s” lower lip and to the right of Adam Sandler’s right ear. What does this mean? I’m hoping that having to endure Trump’s caviar breath will somehow translate to a gig on The Apprentice. Maybe they could do a special eye doctor version–the winner gets to do eye exams for “The Donald” and his bevy of beautiful assistants for a year. But what to make of my proximity to Sandler? I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I have an irreverant sense of humor, but to date no one has accused me of being goofy and profane. That one has me perplexed.
I was a little suspicious about the Libertarian tag since I am not a fan of either marijuana legalization or assisted suicide. So I went to the Libertarian Party website and took “The World’s Smallest Political Quiz.” The results? Check it out:
Aha! I once again show up as a Centrist squatting near the edge of Libertarian territory. So where did that Libertarian streak come from? Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a native Virginian and have a little bit of the Jeffersonian Ideal in my blood. More likely, it has evolved as a result of trying to chase my glaucoma patients around over the past 15 years and make them take their medicine. I used to drive myself crazy doing this, and then I finally realized that if a person really doesn’t want to take their medicine and would prefer to go blind over following my orders, there really wasn’t a lot I could do about it. To each his own.
So, it appears that I am officially part of either the “mushy middle” or the Vital Center, depending on who you’re talking to. I would prefer the label, “Radical Centrist” since that sounds much cooler, but I may be too Libertarian for that and may have to march a little more toward the middle to claim that title.
When I think about it, being in the middle has it’s advantages. That way, if you have to move to either the left or the right to solve a problem, you don’t have to walk as far. At my age, that’s an important consideration.
But hanging out in the center has another advantage: it allows for paradox. You see, the older I get, the more I become a “both/and” instead of an “either/or” kind of guy. I love a good paradox. My favorites include:
- The wave/particle theory of light
- Both scripture and tradition
- Jesus as both God and man
- Balance between federal and state governments
- Aristotle’s Golden Mean of Moderation
- Rooting for both Alabama and Auburn
- Eating at both Wendy’s and Pizza Hut
I am not a man who suffers false dilemmas lightly.
Neither do I take to the idea that one particular political ideology has the right answer 100% of the time. From my experience, sometimes you need a little dash of liberalism thrown in with a dose of conservatism to handle life’s complexities. I’m glad God is just and demands accountability; I’m even more glad that when it comes to grace that he’s a bleeding heart liberal. If indeed, “there is a time for everything” and to fear God is to “avoid extremes” in all things, then maybe I’m right where I need to be. The Preacher and Aristotle couldn’t both be wrong.
What I need now is a political party to accommodate my centrist tendencies. Is there a Paradox Party out there somewhere? If not, I hereby start one, and you can all join if you like. All I need now is someone to print up the bumper stickers.