Sunday, October 23, 2005

Wisdom From Tom Starnes

Tom Starnes is a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Rehoboth Beach and attends the Church that Karen attends. He served briefly as an interim minister there and occasionally returns to the pulpit on a fill-in basis. I know him mostly from fellowship golf outings, social occasions, and as a minister whose sermon style and substance Karen respects.

Tom is also a member of the News Journal newspaper's Community Advisory Board. He had a "Community View" column in this morning's paper, Aging brings realization that truth often straddles the line, that caught my eye and confirms Karen's opinion.

Tom starts with the biblical story in which a judgmental crowd is dispersed by Jesus with the admonition, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." It's certainly a story we've heard before, whether we are Christians or not. Tom focuses, though, on a detail that is not a part of our collective awareness. He quotes the disciple John: "They went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest."

Tom's point is that as we get older, we become more aware of our own faults and more aware that the world is not a place of black and white, pure good and evil, or perfectly clear situations. There are shadings.
Age does this -- to most of us, anyway. It opens us up to new truths and experiences, making us less judgmental and less sure of some of our cherished opinions.
In a few short paragraphs, Tom Starnes applies this wisdom to a gentle admonition of the President over the nomination of Harriet Miers. He applies it to the question of gay rights. He uses it to warn us to soften our cherished opinions with a pinch of self-doubt.

This, I think, is the nugget:
...for most of us, as the years pile up we come to understand that more often than not, truth isn't out there at either extreme. It's generally found somewhere in the middle.
I keep thinking of this as I read the varied opinions and counter-opinions of blog writers in Delaware and around the world. So many of us are so tightly tied to what we think that we fail to test, to probe, to question our certainties.

The truth is often in the middle. If we continue to use only language that precludes the existence of a middle, we may never speak it.


John Starnes said...
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John Starnes said...

I happened upon your blog while 'googling' my last name, Starnes. I read the piece about truth being in the middle and must agree with my namesake's view.

I have heard it put another way which says, "Truth is often held suspended, somewhere in the middle, by differing opinions."

Just FYI!

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