After listening to months of chatter, electronic and otherwise, I am concerned that there doesn’t appear to be any middle voice in this whole health care debate. A High School Classmate (who is now an Oral Surgeon) reminded me that The Lunatic Right and the Lunatic Left are the only ones we are hearing.

I recall that this is usually the case in arguments of a religious nature. We do not refer to them as lunatics, but dress up a nicer word, a compliment in the sports world, fanatic, to refer to them.

What is disappointing to me is that in most discussions (does shouting at each other count as dialogue) like these, the people with a middle or moderate voice are the ones who lose.

The problem is that we get so wedded to ideological stances that we are unwilling and unable to move, to entertain the new realities breaking forth. This is true spiritually as well as politically and I don’t know which is more disturbing.

Walter Bruggemann writes: “My simple thesis is that the church – summoned, formed, and empowered by the God of all dialogue – has in our anxiety-driven society an opportunity to be deeply dialogical about the most important issues, dialogical in a way that keeps our judgments penultimate before the holy throne of God.” (Mandate to Difference, Westminster John Knox, 2007, p.75)

What is not lost on this simple country pastor is the existential backdrop of this whole conversation. Death is the fearful adversary we are in combat with as we argue about (so-called) health care.

We do not name this philosophic/spiritual issue. Instead we frame it in terms of economics, rights, and freedom. I recognize that this issue is remarkably complex and that these issues are real. What I am saying is that they are not the ultimate issue which has generated this much ‘heat’. In the face of this complexity, I am amazed that there seems to be such monolithic certainty about what to do (or not do) about it. What is most damaging in arguments like these is that the far right and far left have identified their unique view as singularly the view of God. (e.g. the ‘death panel’ critique, or the ‘justice’ flag waved).

Like so many other issues attempted to be solved in the media, I suspect the product will likely be the silencing of middle voices and the outcome of this condition is not democracy, nor is it faithfulness.

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