Is Politics Your New Religion?

In a fiercely, politically divisive time many seem to take their political passion and raise it above the values and adherence of their religion.

A big part of this rise in political passion is the emergence of identity politics fueled by Critical Theory and Intersectionality along with the reactionary Trump movement on the right. We are breaking down into 'ites' and a new tribal intensity.

Dan Ellsworth & Jeff Bennion discuss the implications of this volatile environment where not only the Left, but the Right now as well has adopted identity politics.


Dan Ellsworth and Jeff Bennion are both popular bloggers and have written numerous articles. Here are some of those articles that are referenced in our conversation-

Is Politics Your New Religion? - 

Whose Image Are You Seeking In Your Countenance? - 

And Not One Soul Shall Feel Excluded - 

Intersectional Anger on the Left and Right - 

Anger and the Modern Prophetic Voice -



Raw Transcript


thank you
so how much honesty do you want as much
as possible
we are blunt and to the point here
so let's let's go ahead okay we've got
here dan ellsworth
and jeff benion you guys recently put
together an
article um that i've seen a lot of
response on actually a lot of comments
there's been subsequent articles too and
i'm sure you guys have seen those people
that have followed up on that article
and other articles and
and uh and written on them expanded on
them a little bit but here's the topic
it's is politics your new religion
let me start off let me read the opening
statements here that you've got on that
and then i'm going to ask you a couple
of questions
you you pose this question is our
enthusiasm for politics
stronger than our conversion to christ
it's a very poignant question
here that that that certainly is very
relevant and then
a little further down you say if our
political views are answering yearnings
in our souls
that should instead be answered by love
the love of god
and our neighbor right in other words
to me you know i talk a lot about values
right and what where is our values who
what what is our god
what is what is up above there what
brought you to to come together
and write this did you guys write this
before what happened to the capitol by
the way or after
it was before right i think we started
we've been talking about this for a
couple months but we hit publish after
the sixth
yeah okay she published it after the
and so it was i mean it's very it's very
to what's happening in in our society
especially in the u.s today
what what what brought this about i
i i'll go back even further i mean jeff
and i have been
very good friends since around 2004
we were roommates um
yeah in washington d.c
yeah right so a very politically
animated culture environment um
and we were roommates and and we've been
talking politics
for you know 15 or more years as just as
good friends
and we don't always see eye to eye one
of our first political conversations
jeff and i had was um i
i had uh i had a lot of really
really conservative views but not just
conservative but kind of like rush
type views about things and one of the
things that i in one of our early
conversations i'll never forget this
i told jeff that i thought hillary
clinton was one of the most
evil people in the world like
evil you know right right and
and jeff said no she's not and i sat
there stunned
like whoa how wait a minute how did you
not just agree with what i just said
i said really and and jeff you know he
said something to the effect that no
she's not any more conniving than any
political figure and but it was almost
you know in the dog whisperer when
caesar goes
and the dog is kind of startled that was
i was kind of in attack dog mode and and
just hearing jeff say that and i
and jeff is not you know liberal by any
no way you know but he challenged me
in that moment and uh
and i had to think and say wait a minute
you know
i've been in this mindset for a long
and here's somebody i really respect who
just kind of challenged me
and i had to really think about it and
and i came around to his point of view
and and we've done that a lot over the
if if i reciprocate that uh you know
this was also the days of the war on
and the iraq invasion and all that and
dan was intimately involved in some of
that every time he'd come home from work
i'd say i hope you're connecting dots
you better be connecting with god but
uh you know he helped me see a lot more
way uh you know that we were all worried
in those days about this clash
of civilizations between judaism
and christianity on one side you know
and this
fundamentalist islam on the other and
uh you know dan dan was exposing me to
more of that and it helped too that i
had some co-workers who were muslim
who i just came to really adore so
that helped me think a little more less
you know less uh reactionary or
maybe a better word is knee-jerk uh
about that sort of thing
and it's not to say we can't have
principles that's not to say that
i agree with most or even anything that
hillary clinton
believes in but uh so it doesn't mean
we shouldn't have conviction and we
shouldn't advocate
forcefully for our ideas it just means
we want to be charitable about it and we
want to realize our discipleship
is it just goes back to the scripture
keep your eyes single to the glory of
god or
seek ye first the kingdom of god right
we are encouraged to be involved in
and we are encouraged to be active
in in politics
whatever way we find uh to do that but
we have to just keep in mind that all of
that is subordinate
to our devotion to christ or it should
do you guys see in the church today that
that's the case
overall or or are we are we are we
moving one way or the
i mean it's hard to say that the church
doesn't in many ways mirror our
our existing culture or environment
around us right so
how much honesty do you want as much as
we are blunt and to the point here so i
i there are times when i'm horrified by
what i'm seeing
and there are times when i'm really
impressed we
we have church members who have really
succumbed to cultural trends of
you know that mutual loathing between
right and left
and where it just takes over your entire
world view and
and it becomes your religion right
but we also have church members and
and they shine very very brightly these
who have strong political convictions
but really keep those in their proper
and they really love people who who they
disagree with
and they really do have that i single
like jeff mentioned
these people shine very very brightly
because it's so counter-cultural to
to be that way right so we're in a very
precarious position i mean we have
members on the right and the left who
are lashing out at leaders of the church
who say things that they disagree with
um you know informed by politics they're
lashing out at church leaders even
yeah and i i i keep thinking about
how we uh i'm a
i'm a marriage and family therapist uh
moonlight is one
and so one of the things we talk about
in marriage and family therapy is the
so and that's really informed how i see
politics even though i think therapists
and horrible politicians
when you think of this systemically
though you know if i have a married
sitting in my on the couch with me
you know they'll the husband will say
well well you
you take me for granted because i i've
worked and i work all day and then you
come home and you do this
and she said well you never want to do
anything right they just start growing
uh this onto each other and and it it
becomes about
the thing and you would you wouldn't
believe the kinds of things couples can
fight over it
it's comical uh but but it's not about
it's about our natural man to use
theological language which i don't in
session but
but our natural man it's natural to
react right
we get up we get a stimulus and then we
react to that
but really what is why is that couple
it's not about working too hard or
forgetting the anniversary or
uh you like the dog and i don't like the
uh it's about a lack of trust and a lack
of care and lack of concern
and both both people are feeling
and misunderstood they're feeling taken
for granted
they're feeling neglected they're
feeling hatred and then they
the national thing to do natural again
in the sense of natural man
is to throw that back at the other
and it just becomes this big game of tip
for tat
and i think so i look at that
systemically as a marriage and family
therapist i look at this
and i say gosh how did we get here trust
in formally respected institutions is at
an all-time low
whether that be uh the academy
you know the universities and higher
or our news media or heaven forbid
uh the federal government uh for a
variety of reasons
a lot of them justified i'm not even you
know arguing about that
uh and and you even get the impatience
you know what's driving a lot of the
the progressive you know uh concern
police brutality and structural racism
and and all of that there's an
behind that like wait you know we've
we've been working for so long
and and then it's natural for the
political opponents of that to mirror
back but see that all that have all that
happens when you do that
is it it decreases the trust and it
erodes that ability to really
communicate and
have people feel heard and seen you know
this this other thing that's happening
is really alarming where we turn people
into these
sub-humans you know worthy of being
punched or excluded or fired or
and the the worst part is there's no
forgiveness and there's no grace
again it's so contrary to what we
so many of us claim to believe that we
believe in forgiveness and believe in
grace but we're
not willing to accept an apology if
one's offered or
or we impute the worst possible motives
so one of the things that you had
written in here uh one of the points to
here is uh we decide who to love or hate
based on whom they vote for
right i am shocked i i really am i mean
and i i will say
on both sides of the aisle from church
members and
you know whether it's on you know it's
not like i'm big some big social media
guru or or follower or anything but
but on both sides of the of the of the
issues especially during a campaign
from really respected people even
right really respected people that take
everyone and and who
who did or didn't vote for
trump and say you're horrible people
right and and and say you know this is
because of you
or this isn't you know if you would have
done this this would have happened this
wouldn't happen
and i'm not just talking about the
capital or or if you're on the left
what's happened over the last four years
that you don't like i'm talking about if
if you're on the right and you you think
that um
the left you talk about institutions
jeff if the left's taken over much of
the of the government institution right
you need to rebel you know it's
respectable i mean
really respectable people that that are
doing this
and and people that i've followed for
it's it's so odd that this idea of
adjacency to to something
is it to me it's it kind of it's kind of
it's pulling the individual out of
things as much as possible
guilt by association guilt by
association exactly yeah the adjacency
is well that's what i meant
but you're the more we pull out the
the less opportunity there is to have
and and then that person themselves
feels misunderstood because you're not
really seeing them
and then when they feel misunderstood
the more they feel misunderstood the
more they lash out the more they lash
out at you
the more you don't see them as a person
but as this enemy
and it just feeds on so jeff here's a
quick question so while you're dealing
with a man and a wife a husband and a
are any of these political disputes
oh yes yes because that would be you're
kind of like getting both in at the same
time yeah okay so taking the individual
out i think is
is a big deal with this and and grouping
into you know you go to the jaredites
and what happened there over so much so
uh millennia and and see that they end
up in two different groups
and and you know the factions all move
together because there's factions and
that's that's a great analogy to dan and
i even talked about this you know
are you for shares are you for
well sometimes the answer is
they're both you know just because this
guy's wrong doesn't mean this guy's
and so often we'll see and often
accurately you know the flaws or
shortcomings of
this side and that'll ping-pong us into
this side
which might blind us to those and of
course i'm not one of these people that
says you have to vote for someone who's
ideologically pure and perfect and
quali that i could sustain as president
of the church but
but at the same time we need to do that
with our eyes open
and and and so the shiz coryantoma thing
is such a great metaphor because
at some point uh they're both fallen
systems and and the devil's trick
might be into having us present two
alternatives that are
seem diametrically opposed and force us
into either of them
when the winner is and i can probably
find that c.s lewis quote because
you know which one i'm talking about
right then
uh yes i do know and i wish i had it
i'm going to look it up well this is
from one of your recent articles to jeff
it's one we're working on okay so
but you know if we're going to get all
then let's get all scriptural sure right
i read the new testament a couple of
years ago and i and i had a
kind of a specific research objective as
i went through it
but one of the things that stood out to
me reading the gospels
was um how
little that you know we talk about
factions and how
what role those play in politics how
uh jesus was impressed with factionalism
and i you know there
so so greg here's a here's a question
for you
how many verses
in the gospels are direct quotations of
jesus or contain direct quotations of
362. i i have no idea
okay it's about uh it's about 1940.
okay it's a lot okay so the writers of
the gospels
doing their historiography gathering
their sources gathering
you know all their witness accounts of
things and
and everything they these are all the
things that they brought forward
to the world saying here are the things
that the master said
right here's what we believe based on
our best efforts at
reconstructing everything that he said
to us
how many of those 1940-ish
items are politically oriented
now this is one you can probably answer
think of
off the top of your head are any of his
political in nature
well i don't know that well i mean i
if you're thinking of the caesar quote
is that what you're thinking of
okay that's that might be let's see
let's play with it okay so let's say
that's one of them
what what where does he mention herod
who is the political figure of his day
do you recall that
i don't pharisees the pharisees come to
him and say
hey you you need to run and hide
somewhere because herod wants to kill
and he says you go tell that fox
and he calls herod a fox he says you go
tell that fox
that when it's my time i'll be there
right he can have me it's not my time
and that's it right there's nothing
about him campaigning for the overthrow
of herod
or a certain faction to become the new
establishment and fix society
there's nothing like that there's
no attention to you know preference of
one faction or
over another no envisioning a certain
to be in charge of the administrative or
legislative or any aspects of government
and render unto caesar what is caesar's
that's an interesting statement i mean
how do you guys interpret it
jeff there's a lot of ways to read it i
mean that's the beauty of the gospel
there's there's so many ways to do it
and certainly a classic interpretation
that's popular
among us latter-day saints is you know
we obey
you know we may honor we obey honor and
sustain the law
so jesus is saying there
look uh if if this is caesar's law and
you're under caesar's domain
uh render him his due under the law but
you can also read it and these aren't
mutually exclusive you can also read it
as a
damning critique of the pharisees
because as they produce this coin
you know they're revealing that they're
in the pay of caesar because here you
you have shekels you have temple coins
but what they pull out is
is uh so jesus another way to read it is
jesus is
exposing who their real playmasters are
uh and and that certainly has
implications to our
our piece because we can look beyond the
i think in the 50s there were there was
an article
uh printed in the 80s uh that talked
how uh the mainline christian
denominations basically gave up on
classical christianity and decided they
were going to preach the social gospel
in other words instead of repentance and
the ordinances or sacraments as they put
we're going to focus on uh social
programs and
social welfare and caring for the poor
through political programs and
in so doing they they neglected uh
these wavier matters we might say and i
i think
the same thing happened though more
uh probably in the late 90s is when i
would say it started on the right where
the wright got tired of losing
the culture wars uh and so decided that
that they would seek that in the
redemption or
vindication in the political realm uh
they just got impatient with that too
isn't that a lot what we see today i
mean it's it's really i mean
going back to the idea that we talked
about i think before we were recording
about the principle of creation
you you have uh the left that has
kind of i i don't know you said winning
the cultural wars i'd say one
they've won the cultural war they were
still it was still in doubt in the 90s
maybe yeah okay so they've won the
cultural war
and now now you have the reaction from
the right
right that is saying well wait a minute
here you know this is we've we've lost
this we don't like this
and and so they're and and you guys have
talked and written a lot about identity
too it's almost like they're
they're saying um
they have a grievance also yeah a lot
like the left is saying right
where you've got you know as uh um what
are the names james lindsey and helen
are uh you know the grievance
you know the grievance studies and and
you know hey we've got a grievance too
and the grievance is is that the left
has taken over the academy they've taken
over the
media hollywood uh looks like more and
more government
and and they've got all the big tech and
and public schools and you know and
we're lashing back now we're
we're hanging on by a thread we have to
fight back
and we have to show them how they're
by mirroring back their oppression yeah
and so they're doing the exact same
thing right there
what they've it seems to me what they've
decided is
hey your game worked really well
so we're going to play it now yeah right
the the criticism of the left used to be
that they
can't distinguish between god and caesar
right going back to that saying of jesus
render to
god what is due to god there's devotion
and love and commitment and covenant
that's what you give to god caesar you
give something different
right and you it's duty
and you know obedience to the law or
citizenship yeah citizenship absolutely
these kinds of uh civic responsibility
and those kinds of things
but they're different and you need to be
able to distinguish between
the what you're giving to god versus
what you're giving to caesar
and when those become the same thing
when you are
when it's all the same and god is now
caesar and caesar is now god
that's when you have this kind of a
problem like i said that used to be a
criticism of the left
but now it's increasingly with the
adoption of grievance identities on the
it has become a problem on the right um
we're no longer looking for
somebody to uh to
simply execute the law in the executive
branch of government
right we're looking for somebody to
our soul our identity our very
identity and if i can't recognize myself
in that person and they're not
validating my soul
then they're then i'm worthless
and you can see how that totally plays
into the politician's hands right that
totally gives
people more power to say yes they'll say
yes believe me i
feel your pain yes clinton said or as
trump said i'm fighting for you
uh either way so how are we at that
point then when that becomes
where the people are more susceptible
than they might otherwise be
to that kind of rhetoric i think it's
our identity uh we have confused
caesar for god uh which is the pagan
thing right i mean the pagans are the
ones that deified their emperors and
and it goes back to where is that hunger
again if you look at this systemically
like my marriage and family therapist
why would someone look to a politician
for that validation
why would they look and that's where we
have to look inside and say all right
why did i get sucked in on that why did
that cook me
and it very often goes back to our
issues where in our personal lives are
we not feeling
validated or misunderstood and and i
don't know what percentage it is but i
think a very high percentage of this
unrest we've seen
culminating on the sixth but all through
the summer
uh was a lot of that's with the
which has got people more isolated more
and and so that has people looking for
validation and acceptance in
in some places that frankly aren't very
good at providing
and so so it's filling a void yeah and
so when we
find ourselves reacting really strongly
or getting sucked into something
it doesn't hurt to step back and say
i where's this really coming from why
why is this
so either why does reading this news
article or this news quote make me so
or why does it make me so excited either
way it's a dopamine hit
and the social media people want us it's
kind of addictive
but it's also leeches out uh there's all
kinds of research on this i could
give you a link to a great book uh of
the hacking of the american mind that
just came out
uh by a guy named lustig and uh but he
talks about how
whether it's computer games or drugs
they're uh porn addiction uh and even
social media can create that light you
know there's
just getting all those likes on you
social media that is a dopamine hit
and what that does is that that then
shuts down the serotonin system which is
the one that
can feel joy if we talk about the
difference between pleasure
and joy uh they call it hedonic
and you demonic happiness in the
literature but
it's basically the more we're into that
the less we can experience true joy
and peace so you can't like if you're
coming off a heroine to use an extreme
you can't enjoy a walk in the woods dan
does these uh prayer walks
in the morning which i want to start
doing myself
but you wouldn't enjoy that if if if
you're coming off the heroin addiction
you'd think it was boring and flat
that dopamine addiction leeches all the
color out of real life
and i think that's happening to us more
and more
that's interesting by the way what you
know heroin what
do most drugs hit the dopamine up
all right so most drugs are hitting up
dopamine they've always said
that drugs that you know
you know in the church we always give
the word of wisdom argument
i don't like it very much at least i
don't like the way it's
stated usually because we always talk
about what's you know especially with
marijuana it's like well how how how bad
is this really
for you that's a totally different
discussion from
i'm told that you know i need to stay
away from drugs and the prophets have
said that i should i should stay away
from drugs right
so if we could we conflate the idea of
the word of wisdom with what's healthy
we're completely to me we're missing the
point and
and that's one of them right there right
if i'm if i'm jacked up on dopamine
and i'm i'm dropping on my uh serotonin
then where are my values and it shuts
your frontal cortex where all your
uh like higher level thinking is your
your consideration all of kind of
basically our humanity
all the stuff that makes us human rather
than animals is in our frontal cortex
that gets shut down by the way here's
the cs voice quote as from your
the devil always sends errors into the
world in pairs
pairs of opposites he relies on your
extra dislike of one
to draw you gradually into the opposite
but do not let us be fooled we have to
keep our eyes on the goal or we might
you know keep our eye on the mark and go
straight through
between both errors we have no other
than that with either of them and i want
to hasten to add
lewis didn't believe and i don't believe
that that means if
this is the republican position and this
is the democrat position
that the right way is right in the
middle some arithmetic mean in the
it's more likely up here right it's
probably not even on this line
yeah somewhere else yeah it's not some
middle muddle he's espousing here
um yeah i've always thought that was
very manmade um
on on that line there um
dan you had um well i'm going to get to
that one here in a minute
but but dan you you talked a little bit
you'd written a a another article that
said and not one soul shall feel
um and you talk in there a lot about the
idea of intersectionality something that
came about in the late 80s early 90s and
really has blossomed uh especially on
the left
and and although it is getting it is
creeping into the right quite a bit
these days and it is an ideology it is a
a world view basically what what you
would equate it to is it's rooted in a
marxist view
that is the bourgeoisie and the
proletariat except that now you've got
different races you've got different uh
sexual orientations you have different
even ethnicities that are ranked
in a way that says okay if i'm a
minority if i'm african-american
or if i'm gay or if i'm both especially
i have a higher ranking in my grievance
right or in my oppression
and this is something that i mean this
is really taking over a lot of places i
if you've probably seen as well
how uh the southern baptist convention
right it's it's started to move into
there they've actually got that in their
founding doc
another founding but they're they're
governing documents now
say that you can go in and look at these
things that are you know really
they're they're they're under the
umbrella of critical theory really
right and and that you can approach the
scriptures in a way that is
and is um
with critical theory right what and
what you dan you wrote about
intersectionality on this is and and how
does that
apply to not being excluded
so there are there are a couple of
different articles in terms of the
yeah you're talking about two different
articles i've written so one of them is
intersectionality on the right and the
and the other one is called and not one
soul shall be excluded
so intersectionality is
like you described it it is a it's a
framework that is employed
uh it was just kind of an academic
model for describing people's lived
experiences of oppression right
and you know if someone has a unique
um if someone is in a unique uniquely
class whether that's a sexual minority
or a racial
minority then you know you kind of get
this amount of points
and then if you're also in another one
then you get these
you know i'm i'm
i'm i'm using a point system as kind of
an analogy
no in my graduate class dan we they gave
us bracelets and for each thing you were
you gotta
you've got a bead and then we compare to
see who got the most
right and so the idea is is that just
for class
or did you wear that around the black
outside yeah so
so that is uh that is basically
intersectionality and and it when it
becomes your identity
you know your the your belonging to
any number or category of grievance
classes uh you you end up with an
extremely fragile identity that needs to
constantly validated and
constantly affirmed by other people and
when they don't do that
you fall apart you implode you you
explode in
outrage you flail around emotionally
and that is that's the product of
intersectionality and we see it on
you know coastal college campuses
uh especially but it's it's really
like you said i mean it's it's starting
to become
mainstream in a lot of churches as well
and i
i personally predict that it's going to
be the cause
of a lot of people leaving
our faith you know i agree with you a
hundred percent
it is its own religion and so
there there comes a point where the
the dopamine hits that you get from
view and constantly exploring grievances
and seeking validation for those those
are powerful and
and elder richard g scott years ago gave
a talk
talking about the influence of the
spirit being like a grape
and their emotions are like a jalapeno
and your emotions if you're eating
jalapenos you can't taste a grape
and so intersectionality and critical
and again i i'm i'm arguing that these
are being adopted at both extremes now
the left and the right
they are jalapenos and the influence of
the spirit is the grape
and if you are absorbed
your diet is jalapenos then
church is just going to become less and
less appealing
you're going to feel less there you're
going to relate less
you're going to it's just going to
become less
interesting less compelling over time
and you're going to fall away and a lot
of people have done that and a lot more
probably will
if you do go ahead jeff oh if
i again analogized my therapy practice i
i once had a client who was
an auditor he was kind of trained
to find problems and financial
and he messaged me and said uh
look i've got this list of things i
think my wife's doing wrong can we go
over these in the next session
she honored her
and but see if you train your mind
to look for problems right so we had to
i said no we'll do something else when
you get here and so what we did
we tried to practice teach him a new
practice without
because that was valuable in his work
life right teach him a new way to see
good things good things she was doing
and benefit and i
challenged him all right you did this
list before you come you've got to do a
similarly long list of the good things
and i had to help him
thankfully i knew her his wife a little
bit by then because he had a hard time
with it but
i think the problem with
intersectionality is it trains you to
look for difference yes and how can you
feel like you belong to the body of
when you don't when the your very
thinking and your epistemology
then that you bring to this is all about
how you're
different yes and ultimately you can't
intersectionality there's nobody like
you that's what intersectionality says
nobody has the same unique intersections
of group identities
so you can belong to all these groups
but you don't belong to any of them
right well it's like uh it's like uh
if you guys have listened to jordan
peterson at all he says about
intersectionality he says eventually
if you go as far as you can down the
hall of intersectionality what you end
up with is a bunch of individuals
yes which is where we should have stayed
right right it's like oh wait a minute
is an individual right you know we don't
have to be in a collective
in in in everything yeah and that's why
and that's the the great lie of
intersectionality is this idea that
you can create zion by
you know this all-consuming obsession
with differences and oppression and
no you can't you really do have to pick
one you
you have to pick zion or grievance
you cannot have both the only time that
zion has ever
been functioning on the earth has been
when people have been converted to
and that gives you a completely
different identity than anything being
anywhere right so
would you rather belong to the godhead
right where jesus says
in john 17 i pray that they may be one
as we are one i mean that sounds crazy
but jesus
invites us into that unity of the
would you rather belong to that club or
the republican or democrat parties
or any other identity party right yes
that are there absolutely and it's not
that you're not that identity and it's
not that you don't have that background
you know you do and it's important but
but the approach to that is charity
right the approach is uh you know i
we're all here this is me on my soapbox
here but
you know we're all here on purpose as
having differences right that's the way
it works if
i believe if none of us had any
there'd be no reason for charity there
would be no
reason for love you wouldn't need it
yeah you don't need it
it's there's what's it for and in a lot
of ways that's the war in heaven
right it's like look we're gonna flatten
the hierarchy so that everybody's the
take merit and everything else out of
the equation and and that was somebody
else's plan
right right whereas the savior said look
i mean
there might be so you're going to have
your own choice you we might lose some
but i want all of this group here that's
all different without
forcing you to be alike to work together
and let's see how this goes
right and we if if if there weren't
cultural differences which we're getting
more and more of in the church obviously
if if there if there weren't racial
differences and
political differences and different
lived experiences socio-economic
differences there's no reason for two
things to happen
one is for the person in that specific
vacuum of let's say it's wealth
to say i'm going to reach down to those
that don't have what i have
right and and then on the other end and
i think this is just as essential
as for the person down below to reach up
right you have to have that if you never
have that you never have a change of
both hearts
right and and that is it's the exact
opposite of saying here's a bunch of
that's what we usually term charity
today not that it doesn't help
but that's that's what i believe you've
got to have differences there's a reason
for the differences
and that's that's that's kind of what i
i tried to get into
in my article and not one soul shall
feel excluded
so the title of that article has an
emotional appeal
not one soul shall feel excluded right
but it's a quotation from satan there's
only one person in all the scriptures
who says
not one soul shall blank
right right that's
it's a satanic promise like you said the
flattening of hierarchies the
elimination of differences
everybody will feel included because
there won't be any differences
um or there will be
you know and so when we
talk about exclusion we
as a as members of the church and and
this really does
kind of branch off of the political
discussion as well
we make choices okay a lot of times when
we talk about okay let's create an
inclusive christian community well
yes let's do that we absolutely
have to go after the one leave the 99
and go for the one these are
core teachings of christianity we need
to be uncomfortable
in terms of you know the amount that
we're willing to
love and embrace people who are
different from
who from how we see things right and um
we need to do that and we also
need to acknowledge that this
idea of inclusion and exclusion
it takes two to tango okay if i come to
church with a new intersectional
if i come to church with a
just an all-encompassing political
right if i bring one of those things to
i can't blame my congregation
because i feel excluded i made a choice
to adopt a different worldview a
different epistemology a different
honestly in some cases so
yeah you're talking about tolerance yeah
yeah and so
the the ward you know when somebody is
in that situation
we as a ward or you know a branch a
community of believers
we can tolerate and we can love that
but we cannot make that person feel
included if they have made commitments
that cause feelings of exclusion
that drive a wedge between themselves
the community of believers
i and i remember reading that from you i
i wonder though
doesn't that person that might feel
excluded feel like they've chosen the
right thing
yes we always do i mean
they're feeling like well wait a minute
this is what is christian this is
what i should be doing i i don't know i
mean there's a lot of people that
i'm sure you read and follow as well
that that are constantly one
wanting to change the church right right
right and i
there there's no doubt in my mind that
they're sincere there's no doubt in my
mind that they are
um um you know trying to get a higher
out of the church right and and that's
honestly it's part of the impetus for
the radical orthodoxy effort
is if you want to feel included
if you want to not feel excluded
then do the thing that causes us all
even in our differences and jeff and i
have a lot of differences right and
and you know our our friends nathaniel
and jeff thane and
and all these other people who are
enthusiastic about this
radical orthodoxy stuff we have a lot of
powerful differences in opinion among
us but what we're trying to say is if
you want to feel included
then do the things that have caused
people to belong in this community
since the founding of the restoration
and first and foremost that means taking
the witness of the prophets
seriously it means seeking god in the
context of the church it means taking
seriously it means it doesn't mean that
always going to agree about everything
but you give
these things the very very
best the benefit of the doubt you you
give them the very
best uh representation in your thinking
so as long as you're doing that yeah you
will still have differences of opinion
among people around you but if they're
also doing that then you belong
it's hard to not feel like you belong
you take all of those things when you
give them the seriousness that they
yeah okay now you write here dan about
social justice a little bit
looking at intersectionality and
identity politics
you bring up a comment here about
the hebrew prophets in the old testament
say the hebrew prophets culminating in
the ministry of jesus christ
sought the development of a just and
fair society
what do you what do you mean by them
searching for a just and fair society
uh what's justin i gotta know if i
believe in fear
okay it's not what i mean by that it's
what jeremiah means by that okay right
so i quote jeremiah in that piece and
isaiah as well
isaiah 1 is a is a powerful
social justice tract right
um jeremiah 7 and and
there there are some other passages
where the prophets
so one of the things that that
modern purveyors of social justice
um get wrong is
they try to create social justice
god and the reason that the hebrew
prophets argued for social justice and
i'm not just talking about old testament
i mean john the baptist argued for
social justice
jesus argued for social justice
what a just and fair society does is
it allows israel to be what israel is
supposed to be israel is supposed to be
the image of god in the world so
you you have you know solomon in the
dedicatory prayer of the
of the of his temple saying
lord we want people to come here and
then when they go back to their lands
say we know who god is because we went
we went and we we were among these the
this nation
and we know that their god is god right
israel cannot do that if their society
is cruel and horrible and
you know wicked and all of these other
that is why the prophets cried out for
social justice
is hey we need to be god's image in the
this is how all the nations of the earth
are blessed
is by looking at us israel
so our society needs to be a fair
society and and
greg you're absolutely right that word
fair is
extremely loaded by that damn that's
it's extremely loaded but you know the
prophets talk about
um not exploiting the poor
okay um being fair with wages
um you know not and taking care of the
most vulnerable in society the widow and
the orphan
the fatherless these are these are terms
that are
and and jeremiah the the most
often repeated commandment in the old
testament is don't oppress the stranger
who lives among you
right that's a social justice
when you have a foreigner who lives
among you you treat them well and
part of the reason is so that they can
back to their relatives in other nations
and say this nation
is their god is god because look how
enlightened they are look how i was
treated among them
whereas look how horribly foreigners are
treated in our nations right
so that's that's what the hebrew
prophets are getting at is we have a
mandate as a covenant people to model
the kind of society that that god likes
and again you know our
our modern discussions of social justice
conveniently leave out this covenant
aspect of it and that's why it's
it's a mess yeah yeah i think i think
uh social justice is a bumper sticker to
today um as would be fairness as well
there's so much that goes into that um
jeff you also have written in the past
about identity
and um this is something you had brought
up about
being made in the image of god right you
so god created man in his own image in
the image of god that's coming from
genesis created he him male and female
created he them
we might think of this as a mimetic
as opposed and and what what do you mean
magnetic obviously toward
if we're in the image of god that's who
we're supposed to mimic
yes exactly okay are you are you
thinking of renee gerard in there at all
are you familiar with renee gerard or
i i am i just found him uh that's a
uh that's a different way of using the
word i had to come up with a
pithy way to describe it but i do really
enjoy his
concept of memetic desire yeah but
genetic identity
i would be totally different thing which
is we're seeking to be like
mimesis is the word you know
comes from which means mimicry like you
said you're trying to mimic
and so who do we want to imitate and we
want to imitate
christ and the alternative form of our
identity is
is what we've heard
and where what we've been talking about
with these intersectional identities
you look inside and find out what's
to you uh but it's in an introspective
process and uh
it comes and it only comes from looking
inside well
i don't care how wonderful the person
you are
you do not yet have the glory and beauty
and richness that jesus christ does in
whom the father has placed
all all heaven and earth right he is
the light and the source of light and
truth uh
no matter how good you are and how good
i am
we're good too god pronounced all of
but we're also incomplete uh until until
we're perfected in christ
and so that's where again i i wanted to
put it that way
greg because sometimes as
latter-day saints and as christians we
can feel all the defensive
because the world has all this glamour
and i use that word
advisedly glamour just means
a spell that's been cast on somebody to
make something seem
beautiful i contrast glamour with glory
uh and so the world has a lot of glamour
and sometimes that can make this feel
you know the classic example we would
use in the church would be the great and
spacious building where people point and
even though you're standing under the
tree of life right it doesn't get better
than that uh and
but but that glamour can be seductive
and make us feel
inadequate our search for identity
through being like christ it's the
and most exciting adventure
and worthy uh pursuit
than anything the world knows
and that's what i was trying to capture
in that piece
well it sounds like identity politics is
almost a
a a a temporal replacement for
being in the image of god it is i and i
i blame a man probably none of your
listeners have heard of but his name's
michael lerner and he wrote this book in
the early 90s called the politics of
and hillary clinton really glommed onto
this uh in the
second clinton term and then through the
rest of her things and then
a lot of her uh acolytes adopted it as
and it basically said that that we can
find our meaning and purpose in politics
and i just think that's really
dangerous uh here dan was i was just
defending hillary clinton
talking about that but now i'm going to
for a little bit
uh but but i i'm going to be bipartisan
in that because i think
now the right is finding their meaning
and identity
in their political affiliations and like
you said greg of course that's going to
be an aspect of it
but what is primary and we just can't
look to politics for meaning oh my gosh
if you're validated if your validation
depends on the rest of
uh you know 330 million people agreeing
with you
you are going to be miserable you know
that is the recipe for unhappiness if
that's where you need to go for
validation because
at least half the country is going to
disagree with you right
well and aren't you just going to run
through the cycle
over and over again of if i need that
validation and you're giving me
something else that's offending me
i'm canceling you you're unfriended
no longer you're blocked you're etc
i mean i'm more and more i'm in an echo
chamber and
solidifying my views and my my dopamine
hits yeah and you're all outraged
the same things so even if you're angry
you're going to be
united in your anger yeah right and
and part of one of these
when you have an identity i i think this
this issue of identity is coming up more
and more
in statements by the leadership of the
church these days i think they know that
this is
a foundational problem like when you
the the primary songs i am a child of
or i know my father lives does that sink
into your soul is that your lifeblood
is that what gets you up in the morning
is that what allows you to sleep
peacefully at night
is that your security this identity that
you're a child of heavenly parents
or is it i'm on a team
i'm on a political team or i
i have these grievances and these are my
identity i'm i'm a victim
um and one of those identities is
is going to lead you to be able to make
decisions in accordance with the gospel
and in accordance with your values
when you have political decisions to
um the other one makes enemies into your
moral compass
so it's like okay this is my political
i need to decide what is good and bad
in my political activities i'm going to
look at my enemies
and see what they're doing and whatever
they're doing i'm going to mirror that
and then they become my moral compass
instead of god
right your reaction because you become
your compass yeah
yeah so so their their behavior
determines what i think is good what i
think is acceptable
which is the opposite of whatever
they're doing yeah exactly
exactly so if they are if they're
destroying property
okay i can destroy property if they're
beating people
up okay you know fair is fair you've
lost your moral compass you've actually
given them your moral compass they
your values now okay
um what did you guys make of the uh
i mean what are you gonna say what did
you guys make of the of the first
presidency's message here
on on on on the events of january 6th
jeff well i i
i actually i i'll have to admit i
haven't seen it
okay let me let me just read a couple
parts of it here real quick president
oaks was a prophet though
in october that's i can certainly
testify to that
yep um wait let me back ello what do you
mean by that
well his his warning about
how we accept the results of elections
and about how we don't resort to
and that's never justified uh
reading it now it seems pretty darn uh
or preventative sure yeah here's what it
starts off it says principles of
government that allow
god's children to maintain human dignity
and freedom belong to all mankind i
think it's really interesting they start
off with that
right they're they're they're laying
down the the underlying
foundation of government should be built
dignity and freedom right i think that's
and then they refer to doctrine and
covenants 98 5
which talks about freedom giving you
the this is an interesting wording here
but they say your rights and your
right that kind kind of interesting
because privileges as
in identity politics is a very bad word
it is
so but anyway that's kind of interesting
but anyway he's just there
yeah with great concern we observe the
political and cultural divisions in the
united states and around the world
we condemn violence and lawless behavior
including the recent violence in
dc and any suggestion of further
violence um
uh again it's like it's like you were
saying dan i mean
it seems to me that what happened on
january 6th it was
kind of mirroring what was happening in
a lot of the protests during the year
if you can do it i can do it and two
wrongs make a right
and again it's interesting i go back to
the therapy couch
because you'll hear uh uh one of the
spouses will say well you did that
and then the other spouse will say well
you did this and that and that's
it's like well you're a worse person
than me uh
well yeah i guess so but why is it a
competition to be the worst person i
think you'll hear a lot of people say
uh and again not to ex i totally agree
with what you say
and then the common rejoinder as well at
those uh protests weren't in the capital
uh the u.s capitol but then the
other side can say well there were all
kinds of protests like that in the state
house and there were a bunch of puerto
rican terrorists in the
70s that took over the house and so you
go into this historical
when it's really not about the facts
it's about
i am more virtuous than you and here's
here's what i'm going to throw at you to
do it
and here the statement like you said
uh no other political affiliation should
that covenant and sacred responsibility
and what is that covenant and sacred
responsibility to treat one another
and all of god's children with respect
dignity and love
so if any of us have fallen short of
that in whatever measure
we need to repent even if what our
enemies did was worse
we still have to repent of our own sins
again that to me goes back to the war in
heaven right where it's it's
it's uh the title of
lucifer is diabolos
which means the accuser that
was the whole point of what he was doing
he was accusing that's how what he would
you know it's ad hominem it's
yep all right i'm reducing the argument
here to
making myself feel better because i can
make you worse
let's talk about that spirit of
accusation if we can greg
i've seen that up perfectly for you dan
dan and i talk about this a lot
yeah and i i wrote another article
that goes into that and and it's my
article on anger and how
part of um part of what we're seeing
here is
is i i was taught by my mission
president i think that was the the first
place i really received
this teaching was that mortality is a
continuation of the war in heaven
that's all it is different theater of
but it's the same war we're continuing
conversations continuing
this competition of ideas and balances
yeah yeah we're continuing what we were
doing before
and satan was called the accuser and if
you go to revelation 12
that's where you have this magnificent
um vision of the pre-existence and the
war in heaven
and the center of the book yeah
absolutely and and satan is depicted as
a dragon he's called the accuser or a
a serpent or dragon depending on which
he's called the accuser of our brothers
and sisters the accuser of our brethren
um that was the thing that he was known
in the pre-existence that was his title
the accuser
right and there comes a point where
he confronts the woman which represents
the church
and he spits a flood out at the woman
and the earth opens up and and
swallows up the flood so she's not
harmed right so
there's a flood of accusation and and
that is the point of accusation
accusation isn't really about
getting up the truth in so many things
that we in so many contexts where we're
seeing it now
in politics and critical theory and
and these kinds of things the idea is to
overwhelm and dominate
and humiliate and that's why accusation
is employed
satan is the author of that right
um and so we as
as disciples of christ as students of
the scriptures we should
there should be a bright red flag that
goes up
when we get into an accusatory spirit
when we're no longer talking about bad
ideas or
um you know unhealthy fixations
in our society and stuff like that and
we're talking about specific
people and trying to overwhelm them with
we are basically satan is cloning
right we don't want to be part of that
chain of clones that he is producing we
want to be cloned by christ
we want to be healers in the world
so accusation is is something that we
need to
talk more about it's a it's a huge deal
um you know and and in in my article on
anger i talk
about the cultural revolution in china
under mao zedong
and how accusation was the
fuel for that that's how that's how mao
dominated china was he got everybody to
be constantly accusing each other
well they they took they took ji's
right in prison yeah so
so and and they got villages of
people to just keep accusing each other
and people would accuse family members
and they would be celebrated
for that for leveling these
denunciations and
accusations that is satan's plan and it
goes back to the pre-existence
we're living it again today we need to
recognize it for what it is
and greg i have to say i take it
literally i take
what dan says very literally i really do
believe it is an
evil spirit it is a spirit that takes
like almost like demonic possession
you're talking about activity
and cast it out from ourselves when we
see it we need to renounce
that and rebuke it in ourselves and say
no i'm not going to be that i'm going to
this other idea get the hands i'm really
serious about it
well it seems to you know i mean beyond
mao whether you looked at lenin
and and and the the gulags and
and uh nazi germany they all have to do
with accusation right where in germany
one in every three kids was spying on
their parents
right and absolutely it's uh it's
accusation is a big part of tyranny yeah
and we know who the author is yeah and
we know
wherever he can implement his plan
he can orchestrate it he's going to do
that and we've seen it modeled
again and again and some of the people
who jump into it think they're actually
doing good
right and
again we're replaying things that we've
already seen in the pre-existence
uh i wanna i wanna finish on this here
how is this affecting the church right
now as far as
our politics you know going back to your
your question of the article
is politics your new religion is how is
this affecting the church today
where are we going with this and what's
what's the solution
easy answer easy questions for require
easy answers
i honestly we need i
we need to be much more
specific and
i i don't know if i mean aggressive is
the wrong word but i i can't think of a
better one at the moment
what uh yes passionate when we talk
following the prophet okay
follow the prophet is a phrase that
makes some people uncomfortable because
they think that we're being
mindless when we when we say
follow the prophet but look to president
look to his example look to his tone
look to president nelson look at his
you know they're not ignorant they're
not uh
they're not naive about what's going on
in the world
so why are they not flailing around and
yelling and accusing
and angry and panicking like the rest of
what is it what do they have that allows
them to
operate with love and with poise and
and concern but also not fall apart
and implode like everybody else is doing
what is it that they have well let's
seek that
follow the prophet this is a time to
follow the prophet and we need to repeat
that and
and like jeff said passionately repeat
it's not just some little slogan
and i i hate to be a little bit of a
downer here
greg but it's going to get harder
it is and so
i i i've always been fascinated
by the end of the book of mormon in
because of how mormon moroni or
further back ether were able to stay
in the midst of civilizational collapse
and it's so fascinating in the middle of
this civilizational collapse with
atrocities committed by lame knights and
moroni sticks this epistle in there from
his dad which
i have to wonder when it was written but
he says it's written to his fellow
church members and he says i know your
fellow church members
because of your peaceable walk
and that peaceable walk is something
that i think our church leaders have
modeled for us
and it's what gandhi said
too you must be the change you want to
see in the world
i believe that so if i want to see more
and recrimination in the world then i
can be angry and
recriminatory and if i want to see more
peace and understanding then i'm going
to need to be
more peace and understanding and i'm
just going to
do my prediction it's not going to work
the world is going to fall apart
but if i can keep that peaceable walk
if i can hold faithful the way mormon
and moroni and ether did in their times
then i'm i'm going to try to do my
little bit in my time
appreciate that that's uh because i was
going to ask uh what what is it that we
individually can do and i think that's
that's you've already answered that so
well pointed out well is there anything
else you guys want to get in here before
we conclude any other statements or some
topics on any of the anything that you
guys have written or
that would apply to what we've our
discussion so far
um no i mean not really i think we've
covered everything
my again and i don't say this flippantly
seek the savior seek the christ
and look to him in his servants
and how they model him um
like jeff said we individually can take
to to be that influence of christ in the
and we already know from who knows how
many prophetic
statements the world is not going to
accept that
you know the world at large is not going
to accept that but there are going to be
people there are going to be people in
the lord's church
and around us who actually do respond to
and love and peace and compassion and
all of these kinds of things so we need
to model that
great jeff you wrote this i'm going to
finish on this it says we might be
selling ourselves short
and living below our privileges
however unreachable it may feel and then
you put in uh
what other elder uh whiting says the
savior's admonition to be
even as i am is far from hyperbole
or figurative dan ellsworth and jeff
benion thank you so much for your time
and we look forward to seeing uh
a lot more writing and blogs and
contributions from you guys in the

Cwic Show
Identity Politics


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.