Laodicea on the Lycus was a city that lay apart from its primary source of water — a spring to which it was connected by a five-mile aqueduct. This water came out of the ground hot, but it cooled considerably traveling to the city and arrived there in a lukewarm state. It was neither hot, like the water in the spa town of Hieropolis, nor cool, like the streams at Collasae.
In other words, the water at Laodicea compared unfavorably to that of its neighbors for not being one thing or another. It lacked definition. Its destiny, written in prophecy, was to be spued out of the Lord’s mouth, though in history it was abandoned long before the end times came.
What is good about lukewarm water — besides, perhaps, its use as an emetic?
And yet, in the contentious politics of our time the idea of a “center” seems novel, refreshing. Common ground, consensus, concord, fraternity — wouldn’t these serve us better than endless conflict in the public sphere?
Of course, no one would be satisfied with a politics that was somehow halfway between the extremes of right and left, that wasn’t one thing or another. The center needs a positive definition. It needs its own direction. It needs to offer its own alternative.
Last week, I sat down with Nicholas Gruen to discuss his own idea of the “Alt-Centre” It begins its task not by discussing its grand theories, but rather by seeking to solve practical problems.