The new tribalism

. . . Socially, many of us rarely mingle with people beyond our own “family.” Bill Bishop, in The Big Sort, observes that Americans tend to organize themselves into like-minded communities, both politically and religiously. We live in fragmented tribes in which we only interact with people we already agree with on most issues. Bishop notes that when communities are homogenous, opinion becomes far more absolute and dogmatic. Conservatives become extremely conservative, and liberals become radically liberal.

Some geographic areas are so overwhelmingly Republican or Democrat that it becomes inconceivable to residents that people could hold differing opinions. As playwright Arthur Miller asked during the 2004 election cycle, “How can the polls be neck and neck when I don’t know one Bush supporter?” We live in echo chambers where our perspectives are not tempered by alternate views.

The church is also at risk of living in theologically homogenous echo chambers. We sort ourselves based on doctrinal tradition, church polity, or worship style. We fight over issues like young-earth creationism or intelligent design and whether moms should stay at home or not. We question the salvation of Christians in different tribes. Our reading lists only have books from our theological perspective, or only male authors, or only North Americans. . .

Al Hsu – Family Ties

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