Commentator: Amid Extremism, Ancient Principle Can Foster Compromise

(Photo Credit: Ehrich, a church consultant and Episcopal priest is seen in a profile photo.

Amid the dangers of extremism an ancient principle which fosters compromise and a middle way can bring people around the world together, a commentator says.

"If we can't find common ground, we risk global annihilation," wrote Tom Ehrich, a church consultant and Episcopal priest based in new York in a column published by Religion News Service on Wednesday.

The comments were prefaced by an example of polarization arising from nuclear issues between Israel and Iran. Ehrich also noted that, globally speaking, some issues are more important to locals, such as U.S. election themes involving President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

He noted that some topics he could do without, including a paparazzi scandal involving Duchess Kate Middleton and 'political show trials in Beijing.'

"Rather than press on toward destruction, it's time we learned the ancient Stoic principle called "adiaphora," or "things indifferent." It states that some things matter more than others, and some things don't matter much at all. To Christians, for example, the resurrection of Jesus does matter; what time the Sunday service is held doesn't matter," he wrote.

"Adiaphora was presented to me as explaining Anglicanism's preference for compromise, for the middle way, for loving persons more than right opinion. It explains the thought gap between fundamentalist and progressive Christianity, two sincere and well-grounded schools of faith that differ over absolutes and right opinion.

He said that the challenge was to discern what matters and what does not.

"Adiaphora's answer is to say it's all relative," he said. "What matters for you might not matter for me. When our interests collide, your being right or my being right won't matter as much as our being one in God. We are likely to find more truth in forgiveness and forbearance than in consistency and self-crafted righteousness."

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