This book lends itself to be a self-help book. In The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff argue that well-intentioned adults are unwittingly harming young people by raising them in ways that implicitly convey three untruths and that the explicit threats are commonly from the right side of the political spectrum:
- The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
- The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.
- The Untruth of Us vs. Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.
Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt focus on students demanding “protection” from arguments they find challenging and the professors and administrators who cave in to them. The first section elaborates what the authors call the “Great Untruths” that supposedly dominate college campuses: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker; Always Trust Your Feelings; Life Is a Battle Between Good People and Evil People. Their targets are “safetyism”, the language of microaggressions, identity politics, and intersectionality.
The methods they teach come from cognitive behavioral therapy, which Lukianoff credits with having saved his life when he suffered from depression. He and Haidt argue that student demands for social justice are expressions of “cognitive distortions” that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can correct, and that the problems that young people and their parents worry about are not as grave as they think; they are simply, “problems of progress.” The lists and diagrams distributed throughout this book make it clear to me that their genre is self-help. Maybe quasi self-help for community-help of sorts.
Their framing of the arguments leaves little room to consider how historical and social change might legitimately change institutions or individuals, or that individuals might want to change their world. Scripture focuses on our change coming at the mind and heart level then affecting the rest of life (Ps. 51:10, Rom. 12:2, 1 Thess. 5:23-24).
The Coddling of the American Mind is less interesting for its anecdotes or arguments, which are familiar with being the embodiment of a contemporary lifestyle. For example, the labeling or terms expressed by their “privilege to power” wheel that helps to describe “intersectionality,” yet I am not the same labels would be expressed in the 1600s when Jamestown, VA was being established. There is nothing on this wheel of intersectionality expressing the surge of English farmers growing by an African workforce. And, there is nothing said about different professions have less credibility in contemporary societies by either the right or leaning political positions.
And, yet, the power of visuals is effective in helping us see where there might be intersections as see above in the chart.
The authors speak to the reality of “the polarization cycle.” “you have to start by recognizing the mid-twentieth century was a historical anomaly.” The foundation of the argument that the anomaly for the political bipartisan state, particularly between 1940 and 1980s in the USA were the number of common enemies within our borders and beyond. Since the 1980s the authors convey in this chapter that the common enemy is for the most part coming from the right side of the political spectrum (see the dialogue on page 137-138 for example). However, the same could be said in equal balance from the left towards right-leaning political views. This silo effect can create more focus and comradery by any view in particular. And, yet, the resistance to stay siloed can only do harm in the end.
I refer you to what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” To make this even more complicated the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:16-18. “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. The essential truth here is that we are all slaves to that which we give our affections and reasoning to. And, we can be free from truly harmful political commodifying if we give our affections and ourselves to Jesus Christ as Savior then Lord.
In my research, I seek to utilize a portion of the theory behind intersectionality to help prove that neither fully funded nor co-vocational pastors have major stock in helping congregations become more mature. Around the world, we are witnessing church growth exceeding in different sectors and stagnating where there was once abundant advancement of the Gospel. I will aim for creating a network or an institute for co-vocational pastors that produces resources, retreats, book reviews, virtual assistants, shared cost centers, and more.
For me, it seems that we all have the same mission yet can be carried out in different even somewhat opposing visions. The mission is, Matthew 28:19-20, “19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”