Not Getting Ticked about Personality Tics

I’ve mentioned a few times that I enjoy reading the Powerline blog. (In fact, I am wondering if I should ask for advertising fees.) As I’ve also mentioned before, I don’t agree with everything the men write or with some of the subjects they choose to address. I do, though, appreciate the even-handedness with which they tackle most things. They very seldom, it seems to me, try to score cheap, easy points, but base their critiques on a careful reading and thoughtful analysis. I find it often provides good examples of critical thinking.

I found this post by Paul Mirengoff to be an example of what I mean. In an earlier post he had referred to a new book about the Bush administration written by a former staffer. That post allowed the author of the book to explain why he wrote it and what he hoped to accomplish. In the post I’ve linked to, Mirengoff explains why his review of the book is somewhat mixed. He appreciates the aspect of the book which focuses on conservative principles, but is less impressed by the book’s delving into the personal idiosyncrasies of various politicians and staffers. Mr. Mirengoff makes a point that I think is worth considering in relation to the foibles of fundamentalists (past and present):

Like any movement, the American conservative movement is populated by people who are less than perfect. Some of its leaders and representatives will be strong on policy and not so good on retail politics, or the other way around. Some will have personality tics. For that matter, some will be more pragmatic than others. There’s nothing that should be disillusioning about any of this.

In sum, I would have been happier to read more about conduct that arguably betrayed conservative principles and less about idiosyncratic behavior.

That pretty much sums up what I’ve thought about the too common tendency to focus on the distracting elements of past or present personalities. For Biblicists, the reality of depravity ought to make us even more inclined to recognize that human flaws abound and that a flawed messenger does not necessarily invalidate the message.

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