I often refer to the “trad-lib scale” in our church -an imaginary line with traditionalists or conservatives on the right and liberals on the left. I like to think of the ideological scale as a very long one, with lots of room between the extremes of both conservatism and liberalism. And, unless you purposely place yourself so far to the right or left that you fall off the scale, there is room in our catholic (universal) church for all.
My own life has been a journey back and forth along the scale. I was born in a more conservative time, but raised during the early, heady days of Vatican II. I find myself sliding back and forth on the scale to compensate for the strengths and weaknesses of both conservatism and liberalism. I believe in faith seeking understanding, and find it in the solid grounding of the teachings of our church. But, I also need the challenges of liberal questioning for I, too, have many questions. I need a balance between the headiness of theological thought, and the emotional arena of the heart. One without the other leaves me feeling frustrated.
Where am I on the scale today? I’m comfortably settled in the moderate zone of the in between, with a foot firmly planted on both sides of conservatism and liberalism. Does this sound noncommittal? It probably does. But this is my strategy in trying to seek that deeper understanding. And, I think that there’s some wisdom to it. Whether it’s our world or our church, we need to listen to all the voices on the trad-lib scale, for there is truth in both. We have to be open to the Spirit of Wisdom, for she will blow where she wills. And, where she wills can often surprise us.