Will the Center Hold?

Will the Center Hold? 

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) wrote these lines in 1919, just after the end of “The Great War,” but they have a disturbingly contemporary ring to them.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.  (“The Second Coming”)

Born in the idealistic patriotism of the post-WWII generation, I was raised with the naive assumption  that there was a political center that tended to hold things together in this country.  My parents were rock-ribbed Republicans while my cousins grew up as Democrats.  My father and my uncles would have vigorous debates (okay, they were arguments) over just about everything.

Across the years, my loyalties shifted so that I was just about as disappointed when Nixon beat McGovern as I was when Kennedy beat Nixon.  Sometimes the pendulum would swing toward the Democrats and sometimes it would swing toward the Republicans, but over time the pendulum would swing back and forth across a center that was committed to doing what was best for the country.  I thought that the broad “middle class” of the electorate would ultimately balance out the extremists on either side.

I’m not sure I believe that anymore.  Perhaps my personal “ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

Within in the world, the nation and our denomination, it seems that all too often “the best lack all conviction” and all too often, “the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

A Center That Will Hold

So, where will a center be found?  Maybe this is what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote, “Many people say, ‘We can’t find goodness anywhere.'”  (Psalm 4:6)  It’s a disturbingly cynical thought.  But then he remembers the goodness of God and declares, “But you have filled my heart with more joy than when their wheat and wine are everywhere!”  He finds his ultimate trust in the faithfulness of God and says, “I will lie down and fall asleep in peace because you alone, Lord, let me live in safety.”  (Psalm 4:7-8)

Now, there is a center that will hold.

Grace and peace,


P.S.  I had already written and posted this message when I came across this sad confirmation of my observation in “The Washington Post”:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-new-tribal-cycle-of-hatred/2015/04/17/67794040-e50a-11e4-905f-cc896d379a32_story.html?hpid=z5.

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5 thoughts on “Will the Center Hold?

  1. Carmen Cunningham April 19, 2015 — 12:09 pm

    Amen! Carmen

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. It has company with mine, Jim. Will St. Jude lead us?

    1. Bill: The patron saint of lost and hopeless causes will need to find a different representative at General Conference. This one has worn out even St. Jude!

  3. I thought I was the only one. I used to think I was a conservative now I have not changed my opinions and I am a tree hugging liberal.

  4. Hi Jim, I thought of this scripture in reference to your post:)

    Daniel 4:17 Amplified Version “This sentence is by the decree of the heavenly watchers, and the decision is by the word of the holy ones, to the intent that the living may know that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind, and gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the humblest and lowliest of men.” 4:25.”..the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and gives it to whomever He will”

    I know I’ve lost hope in mankind..everyone has their own agenda, and whitewashes or twists the Truth. We miss you and your challenging sermons to get us to a higher standard of love and faith, but are enjoying Roger while we have him, and looking forward to Magrey. In Him, Allyn

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