Posted in reflections

Binary thinking and the “Third Way”

Note: This blog was originally published in 2011. However, it’s worth reading again in our polarized world, and attempts to describe a philosophy of the “middle way.”


On the popular talent show, American Idol, David “Archie” Archuleta was faced with a choice. On the stage to his left stood several co-contestants, and to his right an equal number of singers. The emcee directed him to join the group that he thought would advance to the next level of the competition. He had friends in both groups. Which group would he join? All eyes were on Archie. The stress was apparent on his face as he stood immobile, then he did what no one predicted. He joined neither group. Archie slowly lowered himself to the stage, and he sat.

That night, Archie earned my respect. His courage resonated with me, because too often we’re hounded to decide between only two options, as if only two existed. In at least three areas, we are presented with a false choice, an insistence that we must choose one or the other.

Misguided partisans, with a rising level of urgency, call out to us:

“Is it creation or evolution?”

“Are you a conservative or a liberal?”

“Is it faith or reason?”

And to each question, my simple response is: YES.

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