Have you noticed that maps all over the world put the home team at the center of things? European maps often have the Americas on the left and Eurasia/Africa on the right, putting Europe in the center. Japanese maps reverse that, putting Eurasia/Africa on the left so that Japan is in the center. And in the United States we've often cut the Old World in half so the New World can be smack dab in the middle.
Many of us do the same thing ideologically. Liberals claim the center by placing socialism on the left and national socialism on the right, even though Lenin/Stalin and Hitler/other Nazis had much in common as they centralized power and preached hatred. A more accurate spectrum would place totalitarians of many stripes on the left and defenders of religious, political, and economic freedom on the right.
Many of us also do this personally. It's 10 years since I was active in the Bush campaign and 60 Minutes thought it worthwhile to smear me—but I walked right into it. The CBS producers cited my conservative positions and had the on-air talent ask me to define myself. "I'm a moderate," I chirped, and viewers who weren't bored probably dissolved into laughter. Well, I would have been a moderate a century ago, but I should have said that, in today's spectrum, I'm on the right.
And so, with my own folly in mind, I have a humble suggestion to make to Jim Wallis, whom I enjoyed debating recently (listen to part 1, part 2, and part 3 of that debate): Fess up. Here's Jim's standard line: "Don't go left, don't go right, go deep." Or, slightly more elaborate: "We've seen religion made partisan. . . . When I talk, I talk about a moral center. I want us to go deeper, not left or right."
Jim has tried to have it both ways. He advises Obama while calling himself a "nonpartisan evangelical minister." For years he attacked Christian conservatives for letting the GOP rent their mailing lists, but in 2007, according to The Washington Post, Obama rented the mailing list of Jim's organization, Sojourners.
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