How Tribalism Is Ruining Your Life
Patrick Miller: Are you tired of tribalism?
Speaker 2: I think a lot of what the left supports is say satanic.
Speaker 3: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.
Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?
Speaker 4: If they don't like it here, they can leave.
Speaker 2: You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
Patrick Miller: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?
Speaker 5: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican Party? And the answer is absolutely not.
Speaker 6: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote Democratic.
Patrick Miller: We trust the Lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.
Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.
Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.
Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon, and we choose truth over tribe.
Patrick Miller: Do you? You know what the world doesn't need? Another podcast. So, why in the world are we doing ... And we already have a podcast, why are we starting another podcast?
Keith Simon: Did you know that there are 2, 600, 951 podcasts in the world.
Patrick Miller: There has to be like registered podcasts. Most of those people are like, hey, I'm starting a podcast.
Keith Simon: Oh, podcast stats. How many podcasts are there? There's 110 million podcast episodes.
Patrick Miller: Why do we need another one? Why do we think we're going to make another one?
Keith Simon: Well, maybe we just can't find the one we want to find because there are so stinking many of them.
Patrick Miller: Maybe there's one out there that's probably better than this one, but we're going to give it a shot.
Keith Simon: Okay, yeah.
Patrick Miller: Here's why we think we need a new podcast. Maybe sharing our personal stories is going to help everybody enter into this space with us. I'm Patrick Miller. I'm a pastor, and I-
Keith Simon: Went to a private school.
Patrick Miller: I did not go to a private school. Keith's going to repeat that a lot.
Keith Simon: Sometimes crosstalk private school, Patrick.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. Well, I like to read and... Someone on our staff recently told me that they thought I was more intelligent than you, Keith.
Keith Simon: Well, it's not shocking because I'm a public school kid. That's what I'm on the podcast for.
Patrick Miller: I am also a public school kid, but part of me wanting to do this podcast, Truth Over Tribe, has a lot to do with what I've seen happen over the last four years. What I've seen is that Christians are being discipled more and more and more by media, by their political party. It seems like we care more about our political parties platform than we do about what Jesus says, and it's driving a wedge, not just between Christians, but between Christians and Christians, Christians and culture. Man, we need a space where we stop yelling at each other, thinking about each other, like we're little headlines and actually listen and consider issues thoughtfully. I just don't see that happening in a lot of places right now.
Keith Simon: I'm Keith Simon, and I'm also a pastor. Patrick and I are at the same church. And one of the things that you notice is that people watch cable news or scroll through their social media feeds, or read articles far more than they read their Bible or they hear sermons or anything that's Christian. So, most of the inputs into our life exacerbate anger and frustration, and division. They get people riled up. No wonder people are more anxious and depressed. So, nobody should be surprised that there are outcomes that are pretty negative that come from being discipled by the media.
Patrick Miller: Well, I think it wrecks our witness. If you think that becoming a Christian means becoming a Republican or becoming a Democrat or becoming anything other than a follower of Jesus, then there's a good chance you won't go forward because your own political perceptions will stop you. Remember that study, it's about parents that care more about their kids getting married to someone in the same party? Most parents care more about their kids getting married to someone who shares their politics than they do them getting married to someone who shares their faith.
Keith Simon: I'd just like it if one of my kids got married.
Patrick Miller: You want to talk about that here?
Keith Simon: Pretty much I'd take anybody at this point.
Patrick Miller: Keith, please introduce our third character on this podcast. You want to hear from him as much, but he's our executive producer, Daniel Moore.
Daniel Moore: Hello.
Keith Simon: Wow.
Patrick Miller: Okay. Let's try that again, less creepy.
Daniel Moore: Okay. Hello.
Patrick Miller: Daniel's here for the sound effects, for the fun, and we do want this to be a fun podcast where we talk about issues. Keith and I's motto, someone told me this, annoyed them the other day, our motto is we don't take ourselves seriously and we don't take you seriously.
Keith Simon: That annoyed them?
Patrick Miller: Yeah. They said it made people seem maybe a little bit little. And I said, well, I'm the littlest of little, so I'm okay with that. But we want to have fun when we talk about these big topics, but we want to look at them, not from the perspective of my tribe, which is on the left or the right. We want to look at them from the perspective of Jesus. We want to talk about big cultural issues that everybody's talking about, and for some reason, churches can't talk about it because they're too prone to put it into one camp or the other.
Keith Simon: Yeah. I think that we're going to get ourselves in a little bit of trouble with some people, because we're not going to shy away from tough issues that Christians are talking about outside of the church, but they're afraid to talk about inside the church. Several years ago, you would find that Christians would be debating biblical topics, theological topics, but that's not what really Christians are reading now.
Patrick Miller: You're talking about things like predestination or crosstalk baptism.
Keith Simon: Baptism. Speaking in tongues, charismatic.
Patrick Miller: Would you speak in tongues for us right now?
Keith Simon: I've never done that.
Patrick Miller: I think if I ask Daniel to do it, he would do it, and we're going to crosstalk.
Keith Simon: Have you ever spoken in tongues?
Daniel Moore: I've heard of friends that have spoken in tongues. They actually truly said they did. They said-
Keith Simon: Were you there when they did it?
Daniel Moore: I was, I didn't exactly buy it. I mean...
Keith Simon: Did you think they were just making it up?
Daniel Moore: I asked, " How do you speak in tongues?" And he just goes, " Well, you just got to start just going at it." And I was like, "Ah I don't know if I'm in. I don't know if I'm just going to go for it."
Patrick Miller: Just start going at it.
Daniel Moore: Just go at it.
Keith Simon: Oh well. Christians don't talk about those things anymore though, right?
Patrick Miller: No, they don't. They're not the topics that are dividing people.
Keith Simon: Christians talk about CRT or they talk about political issues. What divides Christians now are not biblical topics, but cultural topics, LGBTQ, sexual ethics, all that kind of stuff.
Patrick Miller: Race, all the things. This is not just over the last few years, since the late 1800s, churches have historically been a little more, I'm going to use a fancy word, pietistic, which is really just a way of saying crosstalk.
Keith Simon: Private school. Private school, remember people.
Patrick Miller: I'm thinking 3.14 ...
Keith Simon: PI.
Patrick Miller: PI, oh.
Keith Simon: inaudible you're PI pizza.
Patrick Miller: Well, no, this has nothing to do with math. It's more about having a emphasis on personal holiness and spiritual disciplines. Keith and I would agree, personal holiness, spiritual disciplines. Matter of fact, our other podcast, 10 Minute Bible Talks, we're doing little 10 minute devotionals precisely because we do think having a day in day out walk with God is incredibly important for your life. However, Christians haven't always been great at engaging cultural topics in a winsome way. They either kind of go into this culture warrior mindset. So, you can think about people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell...
Keith Simon: Jerry Falwell.
Patrick Miller: During the moral majority period. It's really in the late 70s, early 80s, that there's this merger between evangelicalism and the Republican Party in particular. But what's interesting now is we're seeing other mergers take place. I'm seeing Christians begin to merge their faith with democratic politics or with very progressive politics, and so it seems like we're more interested in making Jesus match our political stances again than we are in letting Jesus speak for himself and say, you know what? I'm going to be too liberal for conservatives, I'm going to be too conservative for liberals. As we were saying, we didn't start here. Keith, tell us your story about how you ended up shirtless in someone's backyard?
Keith Simon: Okay. It's true. I did find myself shirtless, and it was-
Patrick Miller: Whoopsie, how did that happen?
Keith Simon: It wasn't because I had too much to drink. I didn't even drink any alcohol.
Patrick Miller: I knew you didn't drink back then.
Keith Simon: Back then, no. All right, so let me set the scene for you. It's in 1994, and the question is, are the Republicans going to win the control of the United States House of Representatives? I know that, that question was probably not burning on your mind in 1984.
Patrick Miller: That sounds so exciting.
Keith Simon: Somehow I was really into it. See, I come from a very political family, and both of my parents were strong Democrats, even my mom are really liberal Democrats, still is today. So, I'm not exactly sure how, maybe it's just because I was a contrarian, or maybe I really was persuaded by crosstalk message.
Patrick Miller: Rush Limbaugh.
Keith Simon: Well, it started with Reagan, but eventually, I mean, I am one of the early adopters of Rush Limbaugh. I was right there in the thick of all that, and I found myself getting more and more excited about the idea that if the Republicans could have control of the House, and the Senate, and the Presidency, then the country would all be on the right track and the problems would get solved, and we'd have some sanity. You see, the Democrats, up to this point, had controlled the House of Representatives for like 40 years.
Patrick Miller: That's actually crazy to me. That's a long time.
Keith Simon: Yeah. I mean, it really wasn't a two party system there. It was kind of a one party system. So, I got sucked into this whole thing, like I already said, that if the Republicans could just win. All right. So, Newt Gingrich is leading this movement and he's got this contract with America. I'm following it in the news. I'm listening to Rush Limbaugh. I'm so excited. Could this possibly happen? Probably not. It's like your football team has been predicted to lose.
Patrick Miller: That's exactly what this is like.
Keith Simon: But you know there's a chance. You're saying there's a chance.
Patrick Miller: You got in on the wild card, and maybe we could go all the way to the Super Bowl.
Keith Simon: Maybe, probably not, but maybe. I'm in the backyard of a friend's house and we're sitting out on his patio, and this is November. It's cold, we've got like sweatshirts on, all that kind of stuff, and we're watching the election returns. It's impossible. I mean, each kind of a congressional district comes in with the results, and you're like, well, maybe. Then finally the anchors, the news anchors call it, call the election, and they say the Republicans have won the United States House of Representatives. Now, I'm married. I'm a responsible adult. I just want-
Patrick Miller: Supposedly.
Keith Simon: Supposedly, but I'm running around his yard, waving my sweat shirt, yelling and screaming.
Patrick Miller: Making a circle like a circle wave.
Keith Simon: Like a lasso. I was just so excited. Now, in hindsight, all that looks ridiculous. Hopefully you can tell by the way I tell the story that I-
Patrick Miller: So, you don't feel like your hope was in the wrong place, the right, what...
Keith Simon: I'm ridiculous. Over time, it hit me that the kingdom of God wasn't going to come through a political party, because the Republicans did some good things and they did some bad things. It turns out that, that's exactly what the Democrats had done, some good things and some bad things, but it took a number of years to pass before I had that perspective, before I realized that my hope should not be in a party, and who wins or loses should probably not get that much of a reaction from me.
Patrick Miller: So, my first presidential vote involves a lot less nudity than yours. I didn't take my shirt off or anything like that. It's not quite as funny, but it's 2008. So, just to set up my story, 2006 is when I became a Christian, when I was 19 years old. It's 2008 and Obama is running up against John McCain, and I became a Christian largely through some kind of liberal Christian movements. One of the first Christian books I read was Jimmy Carter's book about our values. I was actually rereading the table of contents. It's crazy how much liberals have changed. He has a chapter in there about the sin of homosexuality.
Keith Simon: Yeah. He did an interview for Playboy and people got really mad at him.
Patrick Miller: Anyways, it's interesting, but he had a big influence on my faith and my Christianity. It's time to vote, and I looked at the Bush presidency at the ripe old age of 20, 21, and thought, oh, what a failure. He claimed to be a Christian, but here's a guy who's started two different wars. One of them that seem totally unnecessary. He's for torture. We're in the middle of a massive financial collapse. How is this a Christian president? And Obama comes along and he has this message of hope and change. And I really bought into it. In fact, he came to speak at the university I attended, the University of Missouri, and I lived right off campus. I remember walking down the street with all these college students and we're all feeling the buzz, not of alcohol, just like you. We're all in the moment. I just remember talking about how we were hopeful. He's going to finally change America. And his speech was amazing. I've always thought he was a pretty good orator, but at least his speeches are some of the best crosstalk.
Keith Simon: Oh, he's a fantastic speaker.
Patrick Miller: I go, I vote, and I watch over the next four years, as you said, as almost nothing changes. He continues to be involved in those wars. He, in fact, invents a new way of killing people, drones, and executes that at a very, very high level. I don't see the poverty that I saw in Columbia, and saw as a major problem. I didn't see it change. In fact, in some ways, I saw it worsened during that period. I just had to come to terms with this person I put all of my hope in really hasn't lived up to my expectations.
Daniel Moore: Man, you all just thought about politics and deeper ways than I had ever, maybe-
Patrick Miller: Maybe more adulterous ways.
Keith Simon: Who did you vote for?
Daniel Moore: Well, so in the 2016 election, this is the first time that I chose to vote. This is Trump V. Hillary. To be honest, I can't even say over a Christian podcast who I voted for.
Patrick Miller: Really?
Daniel Moore: I wrote it in, I spelled it incorrectly, but if you want to know, if you want to find out, just look up who got 9% of the presidential race in the State of North Carolina.
Keith Simon: I'm curious because I genuinely don't know who you voted for, the other people voted for that you can't say.
Daniel Moore: Oh, it was a big following.
Keith Simon: And it's a write- in candidate.
Daniel Moore: It was a write- in candidate, came from Iowa, started-
Keith Simon: Is it a real person?
Daniel Moore: Well, it came from Iowa. He's 15, he started it, but it got a good following, and it was hilarious, but it all goes to show that I just... I was like, I don't trust Trump, I don't trust Hillary, so my vote would be better used as a joke.
Patrick Miller: But here's what they did, actually this illustrates the point of exactly why I think we need a podcast like this, and it's because I think there are a lot of people who are-
Keith Simon: A lot of Daniels out there.
Patrick Miller: Well, there's a lot of Daniels out there. There's a lot of people who are exhausted by the politics and they want-
Keith Simon: So they've just taking off, right?
Patrick Miller: You want out of the politics. It's like, you know what'd be a better use of my vote? Is a joke, because this whole thing is a joke. On one level, there's part of me that wants to agree with the statement. But my broader point, I think, is that Christians are supposed to be about God's kingdom, and God's kingdom isn't just the afterlife. It's not some place we go when we die. Jesus saw the kingdom as something that was coming, according to his prayer, on earth as in heaven. That means that we should care about ethics, we should care about culture, we should care about politics. Daniel, your story only underlines the point that, in this political climate, there's plenty of people who are out there saying, I want out. And one, I don't think anybody actually gets an out, but number two, I don't think that's what Jesus wants. I think Jesus wants us to care.
Keith Simon: Yes. Maybe you're like Daniel, somebody who's exhausted by the political bickering, exhausted by the fighting. Can't really figure out what the right course of action is for your personal vote or for the nation. Or maybe you're somebody out there that just doesn't know where to get news anymore. You don't know where to get an honest take or a Christian take. That's what we hope, Truth Over Tribe, this podcast is all about. We hope that we can give you a perspective, a Christian perspective that puts the Lamb over the donkey or the elephant, that isn't beholden to our tribe and our team. But instead, lets Jesus set the agenda, not our political tribes, not even social media, not the news agencies out there, but what is Jesus concerned about? Because I think you're going to find, if you stick with us over the next several months, that Jesus is very political. He's not partisan, but he's very political. In other words, Jesus's kingdom has political ramifications for our world. So, you really probably shouldn't be sitting this out. Jesus cares about your vote, your political life. Just like he cares about your personal life.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. The apostle Paul said that we are citizens of heaven, Philippians three, and that was a treasonous claim. Paul was actually a Roman citizen, and he's out here saying, you know what matters more than my Roman citizenship? You know what matters more than your Roman citizenship? It's your citizenship in this kingdom of God. That means that we have a politic, we have an attitude about how we should do life together, how marriages and families should work, how we should share communal spaces, how we should educate our children, how we should... Everything that you think about that belongs in politics. By the way, almost all of life has become political these days, so nothing's off limits. That's something that Christians need to come at from a Jesus- centered perspective. But the greatest threat to Christians following Jesus's politic for all of life is escalating tribalism. Let's explore how tribalism is ruining your life.
Keith Simon: One of the things that we've all noticed is that this tribalism that is happening in our culture, this fighting and bickering and putting your team above the truth, it's been ruining all of our lives.
Patrick Miller: Oh yeah, it's ruining tons of wives. It's ruining families, it's doing all ... That's the other reason we wanted to start this, is that, I think you'd agree with me, in the last two years we have seen tribalism cause more family division, more people leaving the church, more people getting angry and upset and fed up than ever before in the last 20 years of the history of our church.
Keith Simon: Yes. Tribalism is tearing apart churches, not over biblical issues, not over character issues, not even over values, but over political differences. It's tearing apart communities too. Back when the pandemic started, there was a group in our city called Love Coffee, and they hired people with disabilities and they put together coffee and cinnamon rolls and donuts, pastries, all that kind of stuff. And they were selling in the community, but because of the pandemic, their business was taking a big hit. They were going to have to shut down. And we didn't want to see that happen because there are great people over there and these people needed a job. So, we said, hey, what if we just bought a ton of cinnamon rolls from you over the next several months? And they're like, " Gosh, that'd be a huge help, a shot in our arm and help us stay open." We're like, okay, now we had this problem because what are we going to do with all these cinnamon rolls?
Patrick Miller: I said, let me eat them.
Keith Simon: They're like, okay, we can't do that. So we decided, well, who could we give all these cinnamon rolls to? And we wanted to pick somebody who was on the front lines, really doing hard work during the pandemic, and of course, that was teachers. They were having to re- figure out how to teach without being in the classroom with kids. So, over the next several months, we would pick a different school and then send cinnamon rolls as a thank you to the teachers. That was going really well. I mean, teachers-
Patrick Miller: Who doesn't like cinnamon rolls?
Keith Simon: Do you like cinnamon rolls, Daniel?
Daniel Moore: I'm an orange roll guy. I go the different route.
Keith Simon: An orange roll?
Daniel Moore: Orange rolls.
Patrick Miller: I love one of those.
Keith Simon: I've never had an orange roll. It sounds disgusting.
Daniel Moore: It sounds disgusting and it's amazing.
Keith Simon: It is, disgusting. What we found is that the teachers were really thankful. They were kind of putting on social media, hey, thanks to the Crossing for doing this. It's really appreciated. And we were thanking them right back saying, hey, you guys are doing a great job. It was going really well until one day we get an email from an administrator at one of the schools in town saying that they didn't want our cinnamon rolls. The reason they didn't want our cinnamon rolls is they didn't think that we shared the same values that they did as a school. So, this guy's like, hey, we don't want your cinnamon rolls, and we don't think that you stand for the same things that we stand for. And we were a little bit confused. I mean, what do you do when somebody doesn't accept your cinnamon rolls because you don't share the same values? I mean, I'd eat a cinnamon roll from the devil if I was offered one, but okay.
Patrick Miller: I put that on our office door, accept cinnamon rolls contingent upon agreement on all things.
Keith Simon: Yeah, don't put it on my part. That's yours. I'll eat your cinnamon rolls.
Patrick Miller: Weren't you called the devil at one point?
Keith Simon: Well, that's by my wife. All right. What do you do when somebody doesn't accept your cinnamon rolls? I think what you do is you build a bridge and you ask to go to lunch with them, so that's what I did. It's a long story, but eventually I get to sit down with this administrator and eat lunch, and we're just sitting there talking about life in summer and that kind of stuff. And finally it comes around to, hey, why didn't you want our cinnamon rolls?
Patrick Miller: How did you frame that question?
Daniel Moore: They weren't orange rolls.
Patrick Miller: What if you said, it's just we're an orange roll community?
Keith Simon: I ask him, " Why didn't you want our cinnamon rolls?" And he explained that the issue was that one of the faculty members at his school had told him that she didn't think that the school should get the cinnamon rolls from the Crossing because she didn't agree with our view on sexual ethics. Now, as he continues to tell this story, the more that time went by, he was able to talk to some other people in the school district and do a little bit of research about our church, and he realized that we weren't angry fundamentalists, that what we had said was pretty fair and pretty balanced and pretty nuanced. So, he had kind of come around to the conclusion that maybe it was okay to accept our cinnamon rolls. When I heard his story, I started to have more appreciation for him because he was just trying to defend, help out, listen to one of his valued staff members. If I had been in this situation, maybe I would have done the same thing, but here's the point, we left that lunch conversation with this commitment. We want to work with people in our community for the common good even if those people disagree with us. We don't have to agree on everything in order to work together for the good of our community, in this case, for the good of kids and the good of teachers. I think we both left with a commitment to listen to one another and believe the best about one another, even on areas that we don't agree on.
Patrick Miller: I think this is what tribalism does to us. It allows us to flatten people down into memes. So, you weren't Keith Simon and the Crossing wasn't the Crossing, it was just this memafied version of us that is easy to say, oh, they're anti, fill in the blank. That church is an evil church. They do these things. And no one is actually looking into the facts. No one is trying to be thoughtful and say, well, what do they really believe? What do they really think? How do they really talk about this? When you're in a tribe, it doesn't matter what the other person thinks. You just want to see the other person get beat. You want to see the other person lose.
Keith Simon: I think he assumed the worst. Like this guy said, the more he looked into what our church had taught and said publicly, the more he was like, hey, this is at least reasonable. I don't agree with it, but this isn't mean- spirited or hateful or hurtful or harmful in any way. But when you said earlier that everything has become politicized, this is an example of that.
Patrick Miller: Cinnamon rolls.
Keith Simon: Even taking cinnamon rolls from a church has now become a political issue because you're saying, at least according to this one faculty member, that if I accept cinnamon rolls from this church, I agree with everything that church believes. Well, I don't agree with everything I believe half the time. I don't agree with everything you think, but we still work together at the same church. If we're only going to work with people that we have to have complete agreement with, then we're going to be more and more isolated and more and more unable to work together for the common good.
Patrick Miller: And again, that's why we want to start this podcast. It's because that same tribalism, it's beginning to seep its way even into the church. 2, 000 years ago, in the early church, they also struggled with tribalism. Now, it was ethnic tribalism. You had people from different ethnic groups who wanted to contend, my group is the best group. We're the superior one. What Paul wrote to the church in Colossae is this, he said, this is 3: 11, here, there is no Gentile or Jew. Your tribes that you brought in with you, your ethnic groupings, here those things don't matter. There's no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian.
Keith Simon: Do you know what that means, Daniel?
Daniel Moore: Yes crosstalk.
Patrick Miller: Well, how about this one? Barbarian.
Daniel Moore: Barbarian.
Patrick Miller: Scythian.
Daniel Moore: Scythian. I can say the word.
Patrick Miller: Okay. I get it. Slave or free, but Christ is all and in all. Now, what Paul's trying to do is say that, all of those identities that people brought into the church with them, he's not saying that they don't actually matter anymore, that they are just totally meaningless. He's saying they are now secondary. Christ is all and in all. Your union in Christ, you being one with Christ makes you one with each other, and that's the most important thing about you. Again, what's dividing church today is not theological differences, it's political and cultural differences. I suspect that if Paul could write a letter to the church in America, he would say, here there is no Democrat or Republican. There is no black or white or Asian, but Christ is all and in all.
Keith Simon: Well, like your point, of course, there are black and white. Of course, there are racial differences, political differences. The point isn't that we're all supposed to vote the same way or all belong to the same political party. The point is that those should be relativized in importance, and that Jesus should be far more important with them. So, we recognize that we have more in common with a person of a different political party who follows Jesus than a person of the same political party who doesn't follow Jesus. Now, what we have in common in Jesus makes everything that we disagree on much less important.
Patrick Miller: One of the questions I find myself asking in the midst of this is, are things today, as far as tribalism goes, are they worse today than they've been in the past? I was having lunch with a guy who went to dental school in Chicago in the late 1960s. After Martin Luther King's assassination, there were a lot of protests that happened around the country. Some of those protests became violent. He talked about how there were fires. He said there were about 10 fires around his location. There were tanks rolling through the streets. It highlighted to me that there's nothing new about tribalism. I mean, in the'60s, people were being assassinated left and right. There's nothing new about what's happening. And yet, I wonder if today, I keep telling people, I feel like we're living through the'60s again, I wonder if today's tribalism is unique, if we've gotten worse in the last four years than we've been in the past few decades.
Keith Simon: Well, maybe the last few decades, but we didn't have a civil war. It's hard to top that.
Patrick Miller: That's kind of my point. I don't want to exaggerate. There are people who have looked and said, hey, there's a situation we can have another civil war, and these are serious thinkers who are asking the question because of these cultural and political divides. And I do want to say, I think that the tribalism we're experiencing today, specifically around politics, is worse than it's been in a long time.
Keith Simon: Okay. This might blow your mind, because it blew my mind when I heard about it. In 1950, the American Political Scientist Association came out with a statement saying that the country is not partisan enough, that there is not a big enough partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats. And they said that this was really bad for the country. I mean, can you imagine by saying that now, there is a stark difference. There's no way anybody now would possibly say, there's not a big enough divide, and the divide is...
Patrick Miller: Wrong.
Keith Simon: Is bad for the country. But here's what they were saying, is that Republicans and Democrats overlap so much that it was hard for people to know who to vote for to enact the change or the policies that they wanted. Because there were several Republicans who are more liberal than conservative Democrats, and then vice versa, Democrats who are more conservative than Republicans. And depending on where you lived in the country, you didn't know who to vote for if you wanted conservatives or liberals in power.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. So, you think about the Civil Rights Act, for example. People in both parties were for and against the Civil Rights Act. So, it made it really challenging. So, hey, I'm pro the Civil Rights Act. That's what I want to see happen in our country. Who do I vote for? Because I could vote for someone who says he's pro civil rights, but his party might not be pro civil rights. So, it really was a big challenge that America needed to face. Another illustration at the same point that might blow people's minds is to realize that, before the late 1970s, most Christians in the south were registered Democrats. Billy Graham, lifelong registered democrat.
Keith Simon: Yeah, we'll get into Billy Graham later. He always identified more with Republican policies, but he identified with the Democratic Party because almost everybody in the south was a Democrat at that time. It was really not until, what is it? The late'60s and early'70s, and maybe even into the late'70s, that the south transition from Democrat to Republican.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. There's a scholar named Lilliana Mason who wrote a great book called, Is it Civil Disagreement or is it Uncivil Agreement?
Keith Simon: Uncivil Agreement.
Patrick Miller: Uncivil Agreement.
Keith Simon: 80% sure.
Patrick Miller: Yeah.
Keith Simon: Which is pretty crosstalk for me.
Patrick Miller: I did mix it up.
Keith Simon: If I'm 80% ...
Patrick Miller: We're going to go with it. Uncivil Agreement, and one of her points is that, during this period, various identities start getting sorted together to create make identity. For example, in the early 1970s, most Southern Christians were Democrats. By the end, if you are a white Christian, you would probably also identify with the right. If you were a secular white person, you would have a merger of identity with the left. As these various forms of identity started piling up. So, it's race, it's education, it's religion, and they start uniting with political parties, it makes those political parties far, far, far more partisan, far more tribal. Part of the reason is, it used to be that you'd have a relationship with someone who disagreed with you, right? If I was a Christian, I would probably know Republicans and Democrats who were Christians in the 1960s. That's not as much the case by the 1980s. And because that's not the case, it's harder if everybody around you is a Republican to say, hey, I think that there's such a thing as a good Democrat.
Daniel Moore: That is so interesting to me because my entire life, I grew up with just one set of people and you just blew my mind right now, because now I realize-
Keith Simon: What's that?
Daniel Moore: The right. I grew up and just, I don't know a single person that didn't... George W. Oh, we loved George W.
Patrick Miller: And you didn't know anybody that...
Daniel Moore: I knew no one that went the other side.
Keith Simon: Because all your friends were Mormon. Because you lived in Utah.
Daniel Moore: Private school life.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. Dan actually did go to a private school.
Daniel Moore: I did.
Patrick Miller: What was it called?
Daniel Moore: Westminster Christian Academy. But I had the exact same experience early on. My mom became a Christian when I was in fourth grade., and so I had been around the church in and out, and it was a exact same thing there. It was a assumption of political identity, which in that case, just like you, united with the right.
Keith Simon: Yeah. See, my experience is completely different. I didn't grow up in a household that was church going at all, and my parents were both involved in politics, but we had people on both sides of the aisle and in through our house all the time. I think pretty early on, I realized that one party wasn't all good and one party wasn't all bad, and yet, having said that, I think after I became a Christian in college, I started falling into the trap that all Christians were supposed to vote for a particular party. At that point in time, it was Republican party. I know each generation Christians tend to identify with a different party.
Patrick Miller: Well, that's really a true statement. That's what we're highlighting here. There is a generational thing that happens where again, these identities start uniting. Again, the most significant thing here is to not have a negative view of someone in a different party or a different tribe. You almost certainly have to know someone.
Keith Simon: If you don't know people who are different than you, it's easy to demonize. It's easy to believe the worst about them as people.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, because the only way you know, them are these headlines.
Keith Simon: When I got together with that school administrator that I talked about earlier, what we found is that we had a lot in common and that we kind of liked each other, and that we could be friends and work together, even if we didn't agree on things. But if you don't know people who are a part of the other party, then you start believing that they are horrible people who out to kill America or take your kids away from you or take your job from you or whatever.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, and odds are that's where you live. Most Americans live in places where they will find it difficult to find others who are on the other side of the political aisle. To illustrate the point, a landside county is one in which a presidential candidate wins at least 60% of the vote. Okay? So, they win by a very large majority. That's a landslide county. Now, in 2020, we had 1, 726 landslide counties. That's 57% of all the counties in the United States. Now, maybe you think, ah, that doesn't sound that crazy to me. Half of our counties are either heavily Republican or heavily Democrat, but here's what you need to know. In 1980, there were only 391 landslide counties, only 12% of American counties were defined by one political party or the other, which meant you had a high, high, high chance of meeting and being around people who disagreed with you.
Keith Simon: Yeah, this is all called the big sort by Bill Bishop who wrote a book by that same title, and that more and more we're beginning to live around people who think and act like us, and that allows the demonization of the other side to take place. But also, what people find is that, when you talk to people who agree with you, it just solidifies that you are right and that the other people are wrong because your views are never challenged and you don't ever have to...
Speaker 4: You are fake news.
Keith Simon: You don't ever have to deal with the fact that there are good people who think differently than you do.
Patrick Miller: Well, and it's not just that, you actually become more polarized. If you don't have a relationship with someone who disagrees with you, you will become more and more and more either right or left. There's tons of studies that show this. If you have a relationship, or more importantly, several relationships with people who disagree with you, it will moderate your views. You will move towards the center.
Keith Simon: So, we call this living in the bubble. We live, interestingly enough, in a blue city, in the middle of a red state.
Patrick Miller: Okay. Can I say something? Those colors, to this day, I have a hard time keeping them straight.
Keith Simon: Red and blue?
Patrick Miller: I know, isn't that weird?
Daniel Moore: I always thought blue was Republican because it was my favorite color and that's what I grew up as.
Patrick Miller: That's what I'm saying. I always inaudible conservative, conserving, refrigerators, blue.
Keith Simon: Wow. Where did you go? Conservatives, conserving refrigerator, blue.
Patrick Miller: Conservatives, conserving, refrigerators conserve food, they keep it whole and they're cold and they're cool, whereas liberals are maybe a little more progressive, changing, fire, heat.
Keith Simon: Red.
Patrick Miller: It's backwards though. The colors are wrong. I just want to say this officially, the colors are wrong.
Keith Simon: Next time we're going to do this podcast sober. What are you talking about?
Patrick Miller: Anyways, just in case we confused anybody here, Red is for Republican. Keep the Rs. This is how I remember it. And blue is for Democrats.
Keith Simon: The New York Times had this thing on their website where you could put in your address and see how, I think it's a thousand people around you, who live closest to you, whether they're registered publican or Democrat.
Patrick Miller: Let's see right now. crosstalk.
Keith Simon: Let's just do that now and see how it goes for us.
Patrick Miller: Okay. Yeah, so let's do this. This'll be fun for us to look at our neighborhoods. Remember, most Americans live in a bubble. They live in a right- wing bubble or a left wing bubble. So, the question is, do we live in a bubble now? Now, you and Daniel live in the same neighborhood.
Keith Simon: He lives in the nicer side of the neighborhood, just to be-
Patrick Miller: That's actually true, which is funny.
Keith Simon: No, it's not even close to not being true.
Patrick Miller: Keith leaves across the street from a Mormon Church, I hear-
Keith Simon: I live behind the Mormon Church.
Patrick Miller: Let's put in your address, Daniel crosstalk.
Daniel Moore: Here you go.
Patrick Miller: Did you put it in? Okay.
Daniel Moore: I'm in. We're live.
Patrick Miller: Daniel scroll down here, and it's going to tell you... Okay, so I'm going to describe the scene. There's all these little dots that are red and blue and showing you how many people in your neighborhood go to each party. Daniel, what are total percentages?
Daniel Moore: Okay. So, we're looking at 48% as democratic, 52% as Republican, and less than 1% as independents.
Patrick Miller: That is super like even.
Keith Simon: We're right down the middle, bro.
Daniel Moore: Do you think your side of the neighborhood voted one way and mine did the other way?
Keith Simon: I doubt it. I mean, it's pretty close the same, but we live pretty close to each other.
Patrick Miller: No, I just want to say this, this doesn't shock me. I mean, our community is a very split community.
Keith Simon: It's very divided.
Patrick Miller: So, we have lots of cross- cutting relationships. Okay. Let's do my address. Scroll back up to the top.
Daniel Moore: Here we go. Okay, we're looking at 56% is democratic in your neighborhood.
Patrick Miller: I'm a little more left leaning in my neighborhood than your neighborhood.
Keith Simon: I know where you live though. I don't know what the difference is between our neighborhoods, but okay.
Patrick Miller: How many Republicans?
Daniel Moore: We have sidewalks in our neighborhood.
Keith Simon: Must be a lot of professors over there.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, we actually do have a number of professors in our neighborhood.
Keith Simon: That always makes it more liberal.
Patrick Miller: So, it's 56% Democrat and the website isn't giving us the total number of Republican and democratic, but I did the other day and it did, and it was something around, I think 43% Republican and the rest were all independent. So, we had a decent swath of independents, but still, according to The New York Times, neither of us live in a bubble.
Keith Simon: But isn't it interesting that you, more left leaning, have found a left- leaning neighborhood in Columbia.
Patrick Miller: No, it's not a left. I mean, again, remember, they said I'm not in a bubble.
Keith Simon: No, but you're a left- leaning.
Patrick Miller: Yes, I'm in a 56% left- leaning neighborhood.
Keith Simon: It fits you perfectly. Somehow I love that you're me calling be left leading.
Patrick Miller: I don't lean any direction. I just fall over.
Keith Simon: All right. You're just for Jesus. I forgot.
Patrick Miller: I don't. You can say whatever you want to. I'd probably fall into that thick swath of independents there.
Keith Simon: Oh yeah. You're so smart.
Patrick Miller: Here's the point though. We are in a community, as Keith already said, that is very split between Republicans and Democrats. That's obviously shaping our context and our experience. When I think for a second about someone who lives in a county where 70% or 80% of the vote went to Donald Trump and they hear that Donald Trump lost the election, and they're saying, someone must have stolen the votes, it actually makes you realize that's not a crazy statement. If every person you know voted for Donald Trump, you would start feeling like, oh my gosh, how could he have lost?
Keith Simon: Yeah. So, this is a story about a woman named Pauline Kael, who is a New York film critic, and it's the 1972 election between Nixon and McGovern. She lives in Manhattan. When it comes out that Nixon wins in a landslide.
Patrick Miller: It was the biggest victory in American history. Right?
Keith Simon: I think McGovern won one state.
Patrick Miller: One state.
Keith Simon: It was Massachusetts. He didn't even win in his home state of South Dakota. But that's neither here nor there. The deal is that Pauline Kael, this New Yorker film critic said she knew no one who voted for Nixon. Now, Nixon had won her state. She didn't know a soul ...
Patrick Miller: He'd won every state, but one.
Keith Simon: She didn't know a soul had voted for him because why? Because she lived in a political bubble, that the people she interacted with, and her job, and her friends all voted for McGovern. They were anti Nixon. If that's the situation where we all are hanging out with people who think like us, and then the other candidate wins, we're like, well, maybe something nefarious happened. Maybe this election was stolen because I don't know anyone that voted for the other person.
Patrick Miller: I'm not trying to make fun of anybody who thinks that the vote went one way or the other. I've already gotten in trouble for that more times than I can count. Not making fun of people, but people thinking I'm making statements about it. I'm just trying to make a point. We don't know each other, which makes us more polarized. We don't know each other, which makes us think that nefarious things are happening. In fact, there was a really interesting study that showed how poorly Republicans and Democrats know each other. Do you want to share some of these stats?
Keith Simon: Yeah, look, I get lost in numbers, so let me try to keep this as simple as possible. But what this is showing is that Republicans, Democrats have no real idea of what the other side is like and what they believe. Catch this. Republicans estimate, and this is all, by the way, of FiveThirtyEight, off their research, so a very credible source, Republicans estimate that only 50% of Democrats are proud to be an American. Republicans out there think half of Democrats are not proud to be American, but the reality is that 80% of Democrats are proud of their country.
Patrick Miller: Yet Republicans estimate that 66% of Democrats favor open borders, but in reality, only 30% do.
Keith Simon: Republicans estimate that 46% of Democrats are black, which if you just think about it mathematically, that doesn't work. I'm not a math guy, but that just doesn't work. But reality is that 25% of Democrats are black.
Patrick Miller: Republicans think that 38% of Democrats identify as LGBTQ, but only 6% do, which again is, I mean, the LGBTQ community makes up about 3% to 5%, depending on what numbers you look at.
Keith Simon: It depends on how you count it, but there's no possible way that 38% of the democratic party could be LGBTQ.
Patrick Miller: No, I mean, we're laughing because it's absurd based on the numbers. But again, it just shows how little Republicans know about Democrats. Now, let's flip it the other direction.
Keith Simon: It goes the other way. I mean, this is one of my favorites. Democrats estimate that 44% of Republicans make at least$250, 000 a year.
Patrick Miller: I mean, wow.
Keith Simon: But really only 2%.
Patrick Miller: I mean, that's insane.
Keith Simon: Only 2% of Republicans make that money.
Patrick Miller: What portion of our population makes that much money? It is a tiny and tiny fractional part.
Keith Simon: I'd become a Republican if I made that much money.
Daniel Moore: Oh, so you don't make that much?
Patrick Miller: No, I will never see that much money in my life.
Keith Simon: Democrats believe that only 40% of Republicans agree with the statement, many Muslims are good Americans, but the reality is 66% do. Now, I'd love to say that 66% is still too low that I wish more Republicans believe the statement.
Patrick Miller: Well, it just goes to the comments I hear people on the left make of people on the right. They'll use phrases like racist, xenophobic, anti, fill in the blank. The reality is that, that might be true. Some people in the Republican Party is certainly not descriptive of the majority.
Keith Simon: Okay. One more. One more because I like this one. Democrats think that only 50% of Republicans recognize that racism still exists in America, but the reality is 80% of Republicans realize that racism still exists in America. So, there is a lot of common ground, even on that polarizing issue. Now, what you do with racism existing in America, well, it gets complicated and hard and a vigorous discussion takes place, but at least we could all agree that man, racism is still an issue that we got to deal with somehow.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, so let's paint the whole picture here. So, Republicans believe on the average that Democrats are anti- American, they're not proud to be American, they are almost entirely black or LGBTQ.
Keith Simon: Or both.
Patrick Miller: Or maybe both, and that they all want a free for all at the border. That's the Republican picture of the average Democrat, which turns out to be entirely false. The other way around is equally silly. Democrats think that Republicans are all one percenters mega wealthy, who are denying racism and hate Muslims.
Keith Simon: Yeah, so no wonder there's polarization, right? No wonder you've got, I don't want to work with that party. I don't want to believe the best about them.
Patrick Miller: I don't want your cinnamon rolls, sir.
Keith Simon: Okay. Here's what we've established is that tribalism makes your life miserable. It tears apart your relationships, it tears apart communities, it tears apart churches. It causes you to believe the worst about other people and to demonize them and therefore than fear of them. How do you get to be that way? Is this something that we've learned from our culture? Is this something that's kind of hardwired into us? How in the world did we get in a point that we are all so tribal?
Patrick Miller: The question is, do we come out of the womb tribal? In the 1950s, there was a probably incredibly unethical study which was done, where they took all of these fifth grade boys and they brought them to a camp for, I think, three weeks, and they divided them into two groups, which called themselves the Eagles and the Rattlers.
Keith Simon: Fifth grade boys are the best. I mean, Eagles and Rattlers. Where do you get that?
Patrick Miller: They should have picked like third grade. I mean, third grade's a lot more fun than fifth grade, but anyways, that's-
Keith Simon: That's why they picked fifth graders because fifth graders are little bullies.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. That's right. So, they bring them in. They spend the first week just building team comradery. They don't see each other. Eagles are in one camp, Rattlers or in the other. Then they bring them all together, and immediately they start demanding competition because they want a trophy.
Keith Simon: Of course, they do. I mean, Napoleon said that men will do all kinds of crazy things for a little piece of ribbon they could put on their chest.
Speaker 2: Trophies are awesome though. Trophies are awesome.
Keith Simon: Fifths graders will kill each other for a trophy.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, they literally will. They start competing and it's just fun athletics, but then things start getting violent. They almost get into a fight. They begin to throw rocks at each other.
Daniel Moore: This is legitimately the plot of The Hunger Games.
Patrick Miller: That's where she got the idea for The Hunger Games, right? There we go.
Daniel Moore: There it is.
Patrick Miller: That is the summation right there of the Eagles and the Rattlers, and they become irrational too. One boy gets into the pool early one morning, and lo and behold, it's cold. He gets out and he says, oh, the other boys, they came over, and they must support ice inside of our pool.
Keith Simon: Who would've thought that the pool would be cold in the morning. I mean, crazy.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. Here's the deal. Does it show that we come out of the womb tribal? Yes. All you need is a trophy on the line, and fifth grade boys will literally try to kill each other. They'll go straight up Hunger Games.
Keith Simon: Because if you will fight over a trophy, if you'll immediately divide yourself into groups that will go at it concoct false stories, attack one another, accuse one another, come up with names for each other, how much more will we do that when there are really important things on the line?
Patrick Miller: Yeah, and I think a lot of adults respond to this and they say, well, look, we know fifth graders are immature, but I'm an adult, and I don't think like a fifth grader. That might be true of them, but it's not true of me now that I am a rational thinking person.
Daniel Moore: But are we really smarter than a fifth grader? Do you guys remember this show? Did you ever watch this?
Keith Simon: I didn't watch it because I knew I'd probably get the questions wrong and my little fragile ego couldn't handle.
Patrick Miller: You couldn't take it.
Keith Simon: It was tough.
Patrick Miller: So, there's a scholar named Anri Tajvel, and he develops a study to determine what's the minimum requirement to get adults to go at each other's throats.
Keith Simon: Yeah. What he does, he gets a bunch of people together and he has to sort them into two groups, and so he tries to think, what's the most meaningless group I can assign them to? So, he shows them a bunch of dots on a wall and he asks them how many dots there are. Then he divides them into groups of overestimaters and underestimaters.
Patrick Miller: Do you think you would've been an over or an under? You don't know?
Keith Simon: I haven't any. Does that answer your question?
Patrick Miller: You're definitely an under you've just got this like downer personality. I'd be an over. I've got hope.
Keith Simon: Yeah, I have no hope. Okay. So, he divides them into these groups, almost randomly. They don't know each other. They know they'll never see one another, so there's nothing personal on the line. Then he asked them this question, would you like everybody to get$ 5 or would you rather have$ 3 and the people in the other group get$ 1? What you should do there is you should say, we all get$ 5.
Patrick Miller: You take the $5.
Keith Simon: Because who cares if I'm an overestestimater or underestimater? But of course, that's not what they do.
Daniel Moore: This legitimately reminds meme I saw recently. It said, if you could get paid$ 50,000, but the person you hate the most in the world gets$100, 000, would you do it? First response, why would I not want$150, 000?
Keith Simon: Self- hating pays off.
Patrick Miller: It does, but that's exactly what happens inside of this study. People begin to select, you know what? I want the$ 3 as long as the other group makes less money, and it's all based, like he said, on something totally meaningless. What's crazy is that Anri Tajvel, he assumed that everybody, based on overestimating and underestimating, he assumed they'd all pick the$5, because why would that matter? But as it turns out, even the tiniest, most inconsequential thing will turn adults, these are all adults, will turn adults into tribalists.
Keith Simon: Yeah. If we come outta the womb tribal, and if it really doesn't take much at all to separate groups and to make them fight and hate each other and try to punish the other group, now, what happens, when there are really important values at stake, like life or economic or racial justice.
Patrick Miller: Or a political candidate.
Keith Simon: Not only will we war against each other, just because our tribe likes to win, but we will concoct stories about how the other tribe is bad, all in the name of what we define as justice.
Patrick Miller: What we would see as winning, because we want our team, our side to desperately win. In fact, we care more about winning than we do about the truth. Now, there's one more little wrinkle we need to throw into this, which is social media. If you go back to the 1500s, actually late 1400 when the printing press is invented...
Keith Simon: Gutenberg.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. Gutenberg, it causes 200 years of wars. Why? Well, it's because it's this new information technology that allows people to spread both information and disinformation, and people begin using that machine to tribalize it, to break up into their groups and to get into little echo chambers where they only hear their perspective and they have to be right. Wait, wait, echo chamber. I feel like I know what that word means, but what does it mean?
Keith Simon: An echo chamber is when we only listen to people who already believe what we believe. And so we're just hearing other people confirm or affirm our prior beliefs. So, you get out of the echo chamber, you begin to listen into people who challenge your beliefs.
Patrick Miller: And the printing press was really the first time we had information echo chambers, where you could live in a world where the only pamphlets you read, the only books you read agreed with your position and demonized the other side. Now, fast forward, 500 years, and we're living in the era of the internet, and all of a sudden, we have social media, which as it turns out, allows us again to go inside of these echo chambers, where we only hear perspectives that agree with our own.
Keith Simon: And that's exactly what social media is motivated to do. It's motivated to tell you what you already believe, because what that does is it gets you outraged at the other side. It gets you fearful about how the other side is going to hurt you. And that's how these social media companies make money. They make money when you stay on their platforms, and the way to keep you on their platform is to make you scared and angry.
Patrick Miller: Yeah. I mean, you've heard it said that sex sells, but what all of these social media platforms have realized is that actually one thing sells better than sex, and that's outrage, it's anger. You will stay on Facebook longer if you are reading articles that make you angry, that make you fearful. By the way, this is literally their business strategy. In 2018, Facebook had a presentation on one slide, this is what it said, this is from an internal Facebook presentation which was leaked to the Wall Street Journal, but this is what they said, our algorithms, so machine learning, machine intelligence, which is probably smarter than anybody sitting in this room, is our algorithms exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness, to tribalism, in an effort to gain user attention and increase time on the platform. Facebook's business model is literally to force you into an echo chamber where you only hear people who agree with what you agree with, and then to cause you to become outraged at the other or tribe, at the other group, because they know that when they do this, you stay on their platform and then they can put ads in front of you and they can make money from advertisers. We're living in kind of the repeat of the beginning of the printing press all of a sudden. I do think we're at risk of the same kinds of wars, maybe not literal wars, but we're certainly living through figural wars as we're trying to figure out how to live in this new media environment.
Keith Simon: So, if the fifth grade boys teach us that tribalism is innate, and if the over and underestimaters teach us that it really doesn't take much to cause us to hate the other group, and now on top of that, this new form of technology is causing us to spend time only with those who already agree with us, this is the recipe for disaster. This is the recipe for tearing apart communities and families. This is the recipe for human tribalism and to exacerbate all those dark tendencies that lie within us. It's had a tremendously negative effect in our personal lives and in our culture.
Patrick Miller: I think that the church has something to say to this, or actually more to the point, Jesus has something to say to this.
Keith Simon: There's gotta be some way to escape this, and Jesus offers a way out, and that is to be a part of his tribe.
Patrick Miller: When you think that Jesus in his day and in his age, he lived in a world that was as tribal as our own. There were Pharisees and Sadducees and Romans and Herodians and zealots, and crosstalk.
Keith Simon: Jews and Samaritans, they all fought against one another. They lived in their own isolated bubbles.
Patrick Miller: They didn't know each other, which we've already talked about, and Jesus, all these people, they wanted to claim Jesus for their side, which I feel like is what's happening right now. There's people on the left and the right, and every other place, trying to claim Jesus for their side. But back then, Jesus refused to pick a tribe. Like he said, instead, he started a new tribe, a tribe which welcomed all people from every tribe, a tribe for people from every tongue, every nation. It does not matter. Everybody is welcomed into the Jesus' tribe.
Keith Simon: And he told us that all of his followers, all who are going to join the Jesus' tribe, they must love their enemies. They must build bridges, not walls. They must put others' interests above their own. In other words, what Jesus does is he destroys the kind of tribalism that pits us against one another and asks us to join his tribe, a tribe of diverse people, a tribe that is based on grace, not merit, a tribe that loves outsiders.
Patrick Miller: I think if you're looking for a healthy church, this might be one of the best signs you could look for. Walk inside of that church. Obviously you can look for ethnic diversity, you can look for socioeconomic diversity, but right now it seems like the biggest thing you might look for is ideological diversity, political diversity. If you can be inside of a church where there are liberals and there are conservatives, it's a sign that those people have said, yes, we have differences, but we have something which binds us, which is greater than that, and that's Jesus, because he's welcomed us into this collective tribe where those differences aren't what matters most.
Keith Simon: I guess that's part of our point here, is that this podcast, Truth Over Tribe, isn't designed to get you to change your mind on all the important issues.
Patrick Miller: That's good.
Keith Simon: What it's designed to do is to relativize the importance of those issues. What it's designed to do is to say that your allegiance to Jesus should trump your allegiance to a political party or to a political candidate.
Patrick Miller: And along those exact same lines, Jesus said that the truth will set you free. So, the way out of the act go chamber the way out of this us versus them tribalism, it's joining the Jesus tribe and saying, okay, Jesus, you know what the truth is. I don't know. I don't have the corner and the truth, but you know what the truth is, and that truth can set me free from hating the person on the other side of the aisle. That's exactly what we want to do. We wanna bring the truth to bear on politics, on culture, on current events so that we're not discipled by the media, by our echo chamber, but instead, are being discipled, first and foremost, by Jesus.
Keith Simon: That's really good. Are you discipled more by the media or by Jesus? Does the kingdom of God set your agenda or does Twitter? Because we are going to try, now, we're not going to do it perfectly.
Patrick Miller: No, not at all.
Keith Simon: We have all the same problems you do. We're prone to tribalism, just like you are. But what we're going to try to do is let Jesus set the agenda. Now, that's going to mean that we are too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals, because there's no political party, no political candidate, no church that is completely aligned with Jesus's platform.
Patrick Miller: There's never a point where we probably shouldn't be open to hearing other perspectives. Because one thing I've learned in my life is that, the less tribal I've become, the more I'm open to outside perspectives that then I realize, wow, I had that issue wrong. Jesus is in a different position than I am. Along these lines, just you're wondering, hey, where's this podcast going to go? Here's where it's going, we want to start with our own house. Keith and I, and Daniel, we're all evangelicals, and we all became Christians inside of these evangelical movements.
Keith Simon: But we're not sure if we want to still be called evangelicals. I mean, even hearing you say that there's part of me ...
Patrick Miller: You get a little itchy?
Keith Simon: That well, there's part of me that wants to embrace it, and there's part of me that's embarrassed by it, and that's what we're going to explore, at least at the beginning, right? Where to did this term evangelical come from? What does it mean to be an evangelical today? Is it a term that we should embrace or one that we should run from?
Patrick Miller: And maybe what's some of the baggage that comes with the term evangelicalism. When we think about issues like race, gender, sexuality, how do those things interface with that particular identity? Why are we doing this? Because we don't want to be tribal evangelicals. We want to look at our own life and detribalize from our own groups that we can put Jesus first, even Jesus before being an evangelical. So, what's your next step? Well, obviously you can subscribe to this podcast and you can go on this journey. It's going to take us about a year to get through a lot of these thoughts, and we're going to interview a lot of people, some who are going to be strong disagreement with us, but that's part of the goal, is we want to listen to everyone graciously and kindly.
Keith Simon: Look, we've got this next year planned out and it's a pretty cool year, a lot of interesting topics, a lot of interesting guests that we're in the process of speaking with, and they're going to push your buttons. You're going to have to wrestle with people who love Jesus and who think differently than you. And hopefully you're open to that. Hopefully that's what you want. Hopefully you want to escape the echo chamber and just listening to the same news sources that you've always listened to and be confronted with ideas that maybe you disagree with. That's healthy.
Patrick Miller: It's healthy, and it's fun. I mean, I think it's fun. Maybe I'm weird. I'm glutting for punishment.
Keith Simon: You are weird, but it's not for those reasons.
Patrick Miller: Different things that's good. No, go to our website, choosetruthovertribe. com. That's choosetruthovertribe. com, and you can take our, how tribal are you test? It'll tell you how tribalized you are, which side you're tribalized on, and then it'll offer you the opportunity to detox. You can detox from the left, you can detox from the right, and then go on this journey with us. Set down your arms, set aside those things which are secondary in your life and say, I want to put Jesus first and I want to be in his tribe. The tribe that welcomes all and loves all.
Keith Simon: Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave the review.
Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars.
Keith Simon: Stop. No, just be honest. Reviews help other people find us.
Patrick Miller: Okay. Okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.
Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter, @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thought it's in an upcoming newsletter.
America is more divided now than at any other time in history (except the civil war, of course). The church is no different. The fissures aren't healing. They're expanding. Why? Is there any hope to heal? Keith Simon and Patrick Miller explore the roots of tribalism with executive producer Daniel Moore and look at Jesus' answer to the problem.