The monofocalism deficiency

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

Some of my liberal friends were so frustrated the other day.  They could not understand how some conservatives would object to measles immunization when the empirical evidence is so clear that the vaccinations work.  Then they got on to the denial by some conservatives that global warming is a fact, then rolled their eyes at the conservative conviction that the world was created in six days and then derided fundamentalists for believing that the Bible is God's Word when clearly it was written by men.

 

"Are they blind?" ask my liberal friends.

 

Some of my conservative friends were so frustrated the other day.  They couldn't understand how some liberals question the existence of God when God's presence and activity are so palpably evident all around us every day.  It drives them nuts that everyone doesn't see that life begins at conception. They contend that refusing to accept Christ or the authority of the Bible is evidence of the creeping secularism and humanism unraveling our social fabric.

 

"Are they blind?" ask my conservative friends.

 

I think my liberal and my conservative friends are suffering from the same optical deficiency—monofocalism.  My spell check underlined that word in red, because I just made it up.  Monofocalism, according to my definition, is viewing life through only one lens.  My liberal buddies declare, "I'll only believe what I see or what makes sense to me."  My conservative pals say, "Only with the eyes of faith do I see reality clearly."

 

My bifocal friends, in contrast, describe reality in ways which my friends on both extremes contend is contradictory, but from my point of view—which is more bifocal I hope—I would say is paradoxical or dialectical.  How can I say that the world as we know it was created in six days and in the same breath use the concept of evolution to describe not only how life came to be but also the gestation of a fetus?  How can I acknowledge that the Bible was written by men and at that same time hold that it is God's authoritative Word?

 

I can do it without intellectual contradiction, because my bifocal view of the world reveals a lot of paradox and mystery and yes/yes and both/and.  The great St. Olaf Choir is composed of sopranos, altos, tenors and bases all of whom sing different notes at the same time.  The conductor's task is to get them to sing in harmony.

 

Without the right conductor the whole project falls into dissonance.

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