The Cross Contradicts Our Culture Wars

The victory of Christ was won by crucifixion, not societal conquest.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

Moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt wrote this week in The Atlantic that we are all now living on the other side of the Tower of Babel.

Haidt, an atheist, doesn’t mean that literally, of course. The metaphor points to America’s fracturing into culturally tribal factions, which Haidt argues reached its tipping point in 2009, when Facebook pioneered the “Like” button and Twitter added a retweet function.

Although culture wars have always existed, these technological developments encourage triviality, mob mentalities, and the potential for everyday outrage like never before.

For Haidt, this descent into Babel means not a new culture war, but a different kind of culture war—where the target is not people on the other side so much as those on one’s own side who express any sympathy for the other side’s viewpoints (or even their humanity).

Political, cultural, or religious extremists whose goal is to produce viral content target “dissenters or nuanced thinkers on their own team,” making sure that democratic institutions based on compromise and consensus “grind to a halt.”

At the same time, Haidt contends, this sort of outrage-fueled, enhanced virality explains why our institutions are “stupider en masse” because “social media instilled in their members a chronic fear of getting darted.” This leaves the discourse controlled by a tiny minority of extremist trolls—all looking for “traitors,” “Karens,” or “heretics” to root out.

Haidt’s metaphor might be even more on point than he realizes. Babel, after …

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