Online Conversation | After Babel: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World with Andy Crouch & Jonathan Haidt
Online Conversation | After Babel: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World with Andy Crouch & Jonathan Haidt

We were made for relationship — to be seen, loved, known, and committed to others. And yet we increasingly find ourselves, in the words of our guest, sociologist Jonathan Haidt, whose recent Atlantic article has ignited a national conversation on social media: “disoriented, unable to speak the same language of recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.” As we have grown increasingly reliant on technology and social media, he notes, “something has gone terribly wrong.”

In his most recent book, The Life We’re Looking For, bestselling author and Praxis partner Andy Crouch explores how the technology era has seduced us with a false vision of human flourishing—and how each of us can fight back, and restore true community. Jonathan Haidt and Andy Crouch discuss the seismic effects of our technology on our personal relationships, civic institutions, and even democratic foundations — and how we might approach rethinking our technologies and reclaiming human connection.

On Friday, May 6th, The Trinity Forum hosted an Online Conversation with Andy Crouch and Jonathan Haidt to discuss how we can restore true community amidst the distractions and divisions that our society presents.

Transcript | Crouch and Haidt | May 6, 2022

Cherie Harder: Let me add my own welcome to all of you joining us for today’s Online Conversation, “After Babel: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World” with Jonathan Haidt and Andy Crouch. I’d like to also thank our sponsors, the Fetzer Institute, whose support has helped make this series possible, along with the Murdock Trust, Carol Childs and Peter House and Patrick Wilson. We so appreciate your very generous support. 

And we’re delighted that so many of you have registered for today’s Online Conversation. We had over 3,200 registrants when I last checked and just really appreciate the honor of your time and attention. And I’d like to add a particular welcome to our more than 700 or so first-time guests, as well as our many hundreds of international guests joining us from at least 51 different countries that we know of, ranging from Afghanistan and Algeria to Zambia and Zimbabwe. So drop a note in the chat feature. Let us know where you’re from. It’s always a lot of fun to see where everyone is tuning in from.

If you are one of those 700 people or so who are joining us for the very first time or are otherwise new to the Trinity Forum, we work to cultivate, curate, and promote the best of Christian thought leadership and provide a place where one can wrestle with the big questions of life in the context of faith, and come to better know the Author of the answers. We hope this conversation will be a small taste of that for you today.

The Genesis story of the Tower of Babel opens with a scene of resourceful people united by a common language, collaborating on an ambitious enterprise. It ends just a few verses later with utter confusion and fragmentation, cooperation frustrated, plans abandoned, and people divided. It’s the metaphor that one of our guests today used to describe the effects of social media on our country and our fellow citizens, where, in his words, “something went terribly wrong very suddenly.” We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language, or recognize the same truth. It’s the story of the fragmentation of everything and why, he claims, the past ten years of American life have been, in his words, “uniquely stupid.”

But the effects of social media and many of the broader imperatives of technology in general are not limited to distorting and corroding the civic structures defining and uniting us as a people, our other guest has argued, but also what defines and defends our very personhood. Persons are made in the image of God to flourish, and being known and being loved are now withering in mass from alienation and loneliness, which somehow spiked just as media became social, our technologies personal, and our machines learn to recognize our faces.

So what hope is there in reversing the structural stupidity constructed by our devices, remastering the machines that warp us and wound our children and damage our democracy? How might we approach rebuilding community and reclaiming relationship in a technological world? It’s hard to imagine a deeper or more important question to wrestle with or two people who have done such wrestling with more expertise, insight, and wisdom than our guests today, Jonathan Haidt and Andy Crouch.

Jonathan is a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at NYU’s Stern School of Business. In addition to his numerous scholarly publications, he’s the author of three major books, two of which became New York Times–best sellers, including The Happiness Hypothesis, The Coddling of the American Mind, and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. He’s been named a top 100 global thinker by Foreign Policy magazine, one of the world’s 65 best thinkers of the year by Prospect magazine and his four TED Talks have been viewed more than 7 million times. He’s also the author of the much-discussed and fascinating cover article in the current issue of the Atlantic, “After Babel: How Social Media Dissolved the Mortar of Society and Made America Stupid.”

Joining him is Andy Crouch, a best-selling author, speaker, and musician whose works have shaped the way an entire generation understands culture, creativity, and the gospel. In addition to writing widely for Time, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications, his books include Culture Making, Playing God, Strong and Weak, The Tech-Wise Family, My Tech-Wise Life, which he co-authored with his daughter Amy, and his new and wonderful release, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World.

Jon and Andy, welcome. Great to have you here.

Jonathan Haidt: Thank you so much, Cherie.

Andy Crouch: Thank you, Cherie,

Cherie Harder: Good to see you both. So let’s just dive in. We’re going to have a lot to cover in the next hour. And, Jon, I want to start with you and ask you both about sort of the metaphor and the diagnosis that you just made. You’ve just published this really important article, essentially arguing that our social media platforms have transformed our core institutions and industries, destroyed our trust, rewired our ways of thinking, and left us in a place akin to Babel, inhospitable to cooperation that’s necessary for either happy lives or a healthy democracy. But, of course, the last dozen years have brought lots of upheaval: geo-political, political, cultural, and the like. So I’d like to ask you both about the metaphor itself, why you chose it, and why you believe that out of all of the changes that have been going on in the past generation, social media is really the root cause.

Jonathan Haidt: Sure. Well, thanks so much, Cherie. And it’s great to be paired with Andy, because, you know, I’ll be focusing on how this change in technology changed things in the last ten years very suddenly. But just in our prep call yesterday, talking with Andy and getting to know his work, it’s clear that a lot of what we’re talking about here are trends that have been going on for more than 100 years, just part of modernity, part of modernizing, part of technology. So I’m really glad—so I’ll start us off, but then I’m really looking forward to Andy really putting us in a bigger picture here.

So my story is that I’m a professor at NYU. I’ve been a professor since 1995 at the University of Virginia before that. And I love being a professor. I love teaching. And all of a sudden in 2014—it wasn’t there in 2012—in 2014, things got really weird. And some of our students started attacking us and using technology to shame us, and we had to start walking on eggshells. And again, it was like so sudden. And then it became clear. So I wrote this article, “The Coddling of the American Mind” with Greg Lukyanov about that; that was happening in colleges. And then a few years later it was clear, “No, it’s not just colleges.” It’s all of Gen Z, even if they don’t go to college. And it’s our institutions as well.

And I’ve been struggling for metaphors. I love metaphors. We need metaphors to think about anything complicated. So I played with all sorts of different metaphors to get at the polarization. But it was only when I reread the Babel story—can’t even remember what brought me back to it. The key line is—God, you know, he doesn’t just come down and knock over the tower like, “Oh, I’m angry at you. I’m going to destroy your tower.” It’s, “Let us go down and confound their language so that they may not understand one another.” And when I read that, I reread that like two years ago, I said, “Oh, my God, yes, that’s exactly what it is.” Because it’s not just like we hate each other, red, blue. It’s like everything is shattering: within families, within colleges, within companies in which people are generally even similar politically. So I really grabbed hold of the Babel metaphor and just played around with it, and it really perfectly explained what it feels like.

And then the question is, well, what caused it? And of, course, technology—going back to cable TV and all sorts of things—have led to the spread of fake news and more anger. But none of those technologies made us afraid of each other. This is what is new, and this is the key idea in my essay. It’s an 8,000-word essay, but I can tell you what the central idea is. It’s structural stupidity. We didn’t get stupid as individuals. We got stupid in groups like universities or newspapers where our job is to put difference against each other within norms of civility. We debate, we argue, and then we come up with truth. But that can’t happen if we’re literally afraid of dissenting. And in 2012, you could dissent. In 2012 you could say, “Well, wait, that doesn’t make sense. The data doesn’t support your hypothesis.” But suddenly in 2014, 2015, if you challenge certain received notions, you’re going to be destroyed socially and become an outcast. And once we silence ourselves, then as a group, we get stupid. So that’s what I think has happened to us, not everywhere in society, but in most of our institutions, especially those that try to create knowledge.

Cherie Harder: Wow, that’s fascinating. You know, Andy, as Jonathan was saying, a lot of his articles really kind of focus on what’s happening to us as a people. Your book seems to focus a lot more on what is happening to us as persons and how technologies essentially distort who we are as a person. And you’ve argued that, in many ways, the central crisis of personhood in our time is loneliness and that we’ve lost some of the ways of becoming fully human, being known and being loved. And so I’d love to hear you talk a little bit more about how you believe that our devices have undermined our personhood and whether you believe social media is primarily to blame or is there a larger problem going on?

Andy Crouch: Yeah. You know, as I was listening to Jon, I was thinking, I think part of the problem of social media is it’s actually not very social compared to the institutions that it displays. That is, it’s very thin in what it offers us and asks of us as human beings in relationship with each other. And I think we’re all seeing a very sudden kind of bankruptcy in our common shared life. There’s this very, very oft-quoted line from Hemingway. “How did you go bankrupt?” “Gradually and then suddenly.” So I’ve been thinking a lot about the gradually part, like what was gradually happening in the history of technology that made us so willing to accept a definition of relationship and sociability that could be so thin.

And I would trace it, Cherie, to a set of decisions we made when we really began to understand how the world works through the discoveries of modern science. And we started to put those to work—we thought for the benefit of human beings. The dream of the Enlightenment was this would “relieve the human estate.” That was Bacon’s phrase, that this would be so much better for people if we could just leverage what we know about the natural world. And in certain ways it has been better for people. But two things happened. And there’s a guy named Howard Hodgson, who’s an intellectual historian at Oxford who says, “We decided to turn our attention to the maximization of profit and the minimization of effort.” I think both of these are very striking. The maximization of profits—so the reality is that a lot of technology is developed not with primarily in view what’s best for human beings as persons in relationship with one another, but what maximizes profit for certain actors and the people who deploy the technology. 

But the other really interesting thing—and I don’t even think this necessarily had to go along with the demands of capital, or, in my book, I call it Mammon, the demands of Mammon—is the minimization of effort. And I trace this back to the dream of doing magic. We’ve had this dream in different forms for all of human history in the West. It particularly comes alongside science in the form of alchemy, the dream that if we just figured out enough about the world, we’d be able to do kind of wondrous things. But I think of magic as effortless power. And part of what all these layers of technology have given us as human beings, up to and including kind of our social lives, is a kind of effortless power. And, you know, you asked what effect does this have on us as persons? The problem is most of what really develops us as healthy human beings involves effort. It involves certain kinds of disciplines, certain kinds of patience, certain kinds of vulnerability. And we have had this dream for 100-plus years now of eliminating vulnerability, eliminating effort, things that would operate on their own without requiring much skill, and all that, I think, added up to the conditions that social media was just ripe to, in a way, exploit and distort ultimately the most important thing about us, which is how do we actually do life together as human beings? So that’s how I see maybe the bigger frame.

Jonathan Haidt: Cherie, if I can just jump in here. This is perfect. This is just what I was hoping to get from this conversation, because before I started working on this project, the biggest and best idea I’d encountered in the previous five years was the notion of anti-fragility. The notion that humans, especially children, are not fragile. They’re anti-fragile, which means they need challenge, setbacks, shocks, even some suffering. And if you protect your kid from challenge, setbacks, shock, and suffering, you’re going to have a child who’s weak. Just as if you protect your child from all bacteria and all germs, the immune system can’t develop. And so this is fascinating, Andy, because it’s like our technology was giving us this philosophy of “let’s all think how we can help people do more with less effort.” And in the same way we’ve been doing this with our kids. How can we help our kids do more homework or achieve more, but with no suffering. We don’t want them to suffer. And so the subtitle of my book with Greg Lukyanov is “How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” And boy, did we do that. And how interesting to link our child-rearing philosophy to our technological philosophy.

Andy Crouch: Yeah, completely. Completely. And I would just add, I think when you don’t have those developmental experiences, the self you bring into the world, including into social media, is such a thin self. You know, this is the problem with dreaming of connecting people, which was Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s mission statement for a long time—very bad idea if the persons you connect have not been formed as persons. And I think that’s part of what we’re all kind of sensing and experiencing.

Jonathan Haidt: That is such a good phrase: “the self you bring into the world is a thin self.” I would say a fragile self, because that’s exactly what happened in 2014. The students in college in 2012 were all Millennials. There was no Gen Z. Gen Z begins with birth year 1996 or ’97, depending how you count it. It was the students who came in 2013, 2014, they were like nothing we’d ever seen. And the proof of this is that if you look at the capacity of our mental health centers all over the country—it doesn’t matter rural, urban—right around 2013, 2014, it starts going up. And by 2015, you’re seeing articles how we’re all flooded. We can’t hire therapists fast enough. The number who required mental health services had more than doubled in just a few years. So something about kids born in 1996 and later, we didn’t give them a chance to develop. And now I realize I’ve been saying “we parents,” now it’s like “we parents and our techno bubble around them.” Because what’s new about Gen Z is that they’re the only ones, the first ones, ever to get into this techno bubble in middle school. And there’s actually a brand-new study just out a month ago [that] found that when you look at how harmful social media [is], how time on social media is related to bad mental health, and the answer is, for girls, it’s especially bad from ages 11 to 13, which is when they’re going through puberty. And for boys it’s 14, 15, and they go through puberty a little bit later. So it’s that vulnerable period. So the Millennials, they didn’t get Facebook and they didn’t get sucked in until they were in college or later. But Gen Z, they got it in middle school because all you have to do is lie. You just say, “Oh, you know, I’m only ten. Oh, yeah, sure. I was born in, you know, in 1807. I’m old enough.” You can say whatever you want. They don’t check. So that’s, yeah, that’s I think what happened. They’ve developed these, they bring into the world a fragile self.

Cherie Harder: Well, let me ask you a little bit more about that, because there’s a certain irony in that, in that in seeking basically ease, protection from suffering, we’ve actually exposed children to far more harm. You know, quite ironically. And, Jon, just Wednesday, I believe, you testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and you detailed just some of the really shocking harms, particularly to teenagers, and particularly, as you were saying, to teenage girls. Why is it that our devices are making us so anxious and depressed?

Jonathan Haidt: Yeah. So think about, you know, like, we’re omnivores. We need to eat a varied diet. In the same way, we’re a very flexible species. You know, if you’re a koala bear, you don’t need much of a childhood. You’re just going to sit in a tree and eat eucalyptus leaves. That’s all you need to learn. But if you’re human, you need to practice for adulthood. You need to play and play and play. Tens of thousands of interactions. And they have to have conflict in which they resolve it themselves. And they have to decide, what are we going to do today? Should we play this game or that? No, let’s play— You have to work together, have a lot of conflict, learn to resolve it. In order to develop social skills, you have to do that unsupervised. The whole point of attachment theory is that we stay close to our attachment figure when are afraid, but that we don’t learn anything there. We then can go out into the world. That’s where all the learning takes place, not around your mom. The learning takes place when you leave and you go out and engage in the world and you do pretend hunting, pretend fighting, play, whatever it is. So this is normal human childhood.

And, you know, Andy, I don’t know how old you are, but I’m sure all three of us—I know this because I’ve asked this all over the country—around age six, seven, or eight, that’s when American kids went out to play without adult supervision. And this was during the crime wave. I think the three of us grew up during the great crime wave of the seventies and eighties. Well, the crime wave recedes in the nineties, but we freak out about child abduction and we say, “you can’t go out because you’ll be abducted,” which is ridiculous. It almost never happens. 

Andy Crouch: It’s also when the “Baby on board” signs appear.

Jonathan Haidt: Yes, that’s right. That’s right. And it’s in part because we have fewer kids, but we invest more in them because college is getting more competitive—for a lot of reasons. We switch over into what’s called “concerted-cultivation parenting.” I am going to shepherd you through childhood, which means you will never get a chance to learn anything because I’m always there for you. And just to add one more metaphor, so this is what kids need: they need lots of unsupervised experience, of a great variety. And what we did to them around 2010 is we put them all on experience blockers. So an experience blocker is the thing that once you have it, you don’t have any other experience. And I’ve got one right here. [Holds up a smart phone.] So this is an experience blocker. It is a kind of experience, but it knocks out all other kinds of experience. So it’s sort of like we said to kids, “Okay, you can sit in this tree and you can eat eucalyptus leaves and that’s all. Nothing else.” And then we’re surprised that they develop scurvy and all kinds of other diseases because they’re not having a normal human childhood. Okay. I just mixed way too many metaphors in there, but that’s what happened in 2010, because the kids didn’t have cell phones, they didn’t have smartphones in 2008. Iphone comes out in 2007. It’s expensive. But by 2012 they mostly do. So that was the transition period.

Andy Crouch: Can I just build on that briefly, Cherie? To say, I think one thing that distinguishes us from the koalas is not just diet or—. 

Jonathan Haidt: Fur.

Andy Crouch: —activity. Or fur. But I was sort of casting about as I worked on this new book: What is the essence of being a person? And for me as a Christian, it’s hard to do better than what Jesus says is the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” And of course, this is just Jesus channeling the Jewish tradition and the Shema Israel from the Hebrew Bible. And I was struck that that four-fold—the way Jesus presents it’s four-fold; in the Hebrew Bible, it’s only three—Jesus adds mind for some reason. Heart, soul, mind, strength. I think that this is a beautiful kind of specification of what it is to be a person. A person is a heart-soul-mind-strength complex, designed for love. And one of the really damaging things about our technology is very little of our technology develops all four of those qualities, the kind of emotional capacity of human beings, our mental capacity, our bodily capacity. You know, this eucalyptus tree we’re sitting in does not require us to move very much. It’s taking us away from the three-dimensional world that those 6- to 8-year-olds played in so naturally. And then soul, whatever that is. I think it’s something about depth of self that only is discovered in communion with other selves and perhaps with the divine. And technology is not designed by and large—it could be—but in fact it just doesn’t attend to this multidimensional human experience. It really constrains us. I love that experience-blocker metaphor, Jon. And it’s affecting all of us, I would say. But it’s no surprise that it affects adolescents the most vividly because they’re the ones who are on the fastest growth curve and the most vulnerable in a way.

Jonathan Haidt: Yeah.

Cherie Harder: So there’s those of us who are hanging on eucalyptus trees munching away, and then there are also those—just to pick up on another metaphor, Jon, that you talked about—running around with dart guns. There have been those who have—well, some of us are just, you know, half-anesthetized, comfortably numb. Other folks have, to incredible degrees, monetized and weaponized social media, to the point where, Jon, you have argued that we are on a path that is not compatible with sustaining democracy. That there’s actually a clear, present, and urgent danger. And I would love to ask you a little bit more about the danger that you see and what this is doing to us as a people and as citizens, not just as distorted, eucalyptus-munching people.

Jonathan Haidt: Yeah. So the dark kind of metaphor is this: Mark Zuckerberg often says how could it be wrong to give more people more voice? And there was an era of techno-utopianism when we really thought in the 90s and early 2000s that the Internet and then social media specifically are going to be incredible gifts to democracy. Give everyone a voice, empower everyone. The Arab Spring—how could a dictator stand up to the people empowered? And, you know, it looked like he couldn’t. It turns out, though, that when everyone got a voice and especially—now, Twitter is the worst here because Twitter is designed so that there will be no context, no mercy, no truth, just, you know, just little things, and it’s mostly complaining. It’s mostly negative. Facebook, a lot of good stuff happens on Facebook. Most of what’s on Facebook is very nice, but, of course, but there’s so much of it that a lot of it ends up being very powerful. It shifts elections, does all sorts of things. Anyway, the point is that it makes it super easy for anyone to complain about anyone, to slander anyone, to call them names, and what we care about most—speaking as a social psychologist—what we care about most is our reputation. That’s what people are just desperate for. And teenagers, my God, they’re just beginning to explore this. So it’s really painful for them if someone calls them a name. So the metaphor that I used was, it’s not that it gave everyone a voice. It’s like it gave everyone a dart gun, where you can shoot anyone at any time with no accountability. You can do it anonymously. And most of us don’t want to shoot anyone, so most of us don’t do it. But who does? Four groups: The far right, the far left, trolls, which are mostly men, but they are people who just enjoy harassing and being cruel. They get kicks out of it. And then Russian agents. The Russians really did master it, and they really amplified our strife beginning in 2013, 2014, when they activated their networks. So these four groups. And the other 80 percent of us are like, we just don’t want to get shot. It’s really painful to be slandered and slimed and humiliated online.

So what I found after I published the article, you know, this is— You know, I really put some blame on what the left is doing, what the right is doing, and I expected to have a lot of people, you know, yelling and screaming at me and calling me names. Zero. Nobody is criticizing me. What’s happening is everyone is so exhausted. Everyone’s exhausted, and especially anybody who runs anything, they’ve been shot thousands of times. They are so exhausted. And anybody who’s a moderate, if you’re center-left, center-right, you’re so exhausted, and you just keep your head down. So even though when I wrote the article, I was very pessimistic about our future as a country, because if we don’t speak up, if it’s only the extremists and the trolls who are speaking, then our institutions get structurally stupid and without good democratic and epistemic institutions, that is, things that generate knowledge, we can’t have a democracy.

Latin America, other places, have had a lot of trouble having democracy without strong institutions. In America we got good British institutions and then we improved them. So that was our secret. In the 19th and early 20th century, we had good institutions. But now our institutions are decaying. People are losing trust in them, in part because they’re becoming less effective. So on our present course, I do believe that we will fail as a nation. If we don’t change things, I believe we are on a track—. You can’t have a large, diverse, secular democracy, nothing holding us together, if we don’t trust each other or have good institutions. Of course, if you have a broadly religious public, especially if you share religion, that really binds people together. But social media has dissolved the mortar of society. Everything is coming apart. Americans as a religious people are coming apart. As you well know, mainline Protestant denominations are plummeting and “spiritual, but not religious” is the thing that’s rising among our young people. So, yes, I’m very, very concerned. But the good news is just that most Americans are really reasonable, decent people who love this country and want to live together. So we just have to figure out how do we undo the damage of these technologies so that we get better— well, we have better technologies or better use of technology. And for that, I think we should turn to Andy Crouch. Andy, how do we do that?

Cherie Harder: You know, actually, Andy, I want to hear your answer to that. Before we do that, though, I want to ask you another question, which is essentially, why are we doing this to ourselves? You know, in that we know that there’s a lot of data supporting the fact that when we basically hand an iPhone or whatever to a 12-year-old, 12-year-old girl, the chances are quite high that they will suffer from anxiety or depression, that they’ll be harassed and bullied. When we log on, we rarely log off feeling better about things. We are much more likely to leave feeling addicted, distracted, upset, or what have you. And some of us are chomping eucalyptus and others are shooting darts into reasonable leaders, trying to keep it all together. At one point in your book, you said that “we have lost our souls without even gaining the world.” So why are we torturing ourselves by essentially playing into the games as it’s currently structured and not asking for more?

Andy Crouch: So I think there’s probably a couple of layers. I mean, there’s this very interesting work—I believe the neuroscientist who did it, who won the Gruber Prize for it, is Wolfgang Schulz, if I’m not misremembering his name—on how addictive patterns, especially drugs, but also patterns, hijack our learning system so that we never actually learn that something doesn’t produce reward. We know with, like, strictly addictive things, any addict knows the next hit is not going to be that great. But what actually happens on a neurological level is that system that’s meant to help you learn just is interrupted and you never actually learn. So part of it is we just forget at a kind of brain-body level that it’s not going to be better this time. And there are these kind of little micro rewards that are sort of the compensations for a vulnerable life. I mean, another layer of it, honestly, is we dream of life being easier. The reason parents give their kids cellphones is basically to make life easier. It’s not to expose their kids to a maelstrom of shame and regret and, you know, thinned-out relationships. It’s to find out when soccer practice is, you know, to be totally honest. 

And then I would also say the first time kids get a glowing rectangle put in front of them is almost always—quite early in life now—it’s because they’re in distress. They’re upset because they’re having to sit in a plane or sit in the backseat of a car and “Oh, here, I’ll hand you this thing. This thing will make your life easier.” And really what we mean is it will make the parents’ life easier. It relieves the parents’ distress as well as the child’s. And that starts to train us that maybe this thing will relieve distress.

So I think, Cherie, my fundamental answer to that is being human is vulnerable. Being human in the world that we were actually given is vulnerable. By the way, I cannot help pushing on your metaphor a little bit, Jon. Babel is understood in the arch of Genesis as a mistaken project from the beginning. They use their technology to do something they’re not meant to do, which is settle down in the plain of Shinar, I think it’s called. And rather than continue to fulfill—God instructs his image bearers to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, right? So they’re supposed to be spreading out. They decide, actually, that sounds kind of vulnerable. What if we just collect? What if we consolidate power, use our technology to kind of shore up our power? In a way, what humanity is presenting as doing in that story is avoiding the vulnerability of the kind of vastness of the world that they’ve been entrusted with by the Creator. And I think at an individual level, this is also what happens to us, that we assess the vulnerability that would be involved in relating to our spouse, in stepping out our door and relating to our neighbor, in really wrestling with a complex political issue. And there are these affordances and devices available at every moment that we can turn to that will relieve that distress, that will give us some micro rewards, even though we kind of know it’s not going to work.

So the very, very deep kind of question is how do we create the environments where we can be properly vulnerable again, which we’ll only do if we feel sufficiently loved that we can risk it? And I think starting at a very small level, but scaling all the way up to the kinds of institutions that used to make people feel, you can engage in the vulnerability of not being sure what you think, of disagreeing with someone, of raising some contrary evidence, all these things that we used to be able to do. Those are kind of collapsing and they’ve been replaced by these systems that give us momentary relief from it, but also just undermine that anti-fragility that we were all meant to develop, I think.

Cherie Harder: And Jon, I want to pick up on your question, but ask you that. What then do we do?

Andy Crouch: Because it’s not fair to make me answer. [Laughs.]

Jonathan Haidt: Well, you’re the big picture guy. I’m the medium picture guy. You’re talking about the soul. I’m just talking about the brain.

Cherie Harder: You’ve mentioned that, I mean, not only are we in a pivotal time, but in many ways it is likely to get worse because we are right on the cusp of A.I. essentially being able to enable highly believable misinformation. So from a structural standpoint, from a democratic point of view, what structures can we put in place and what institutions can we harden to protect democracy?

Jonathan Haidt: Sure. So, yes, so at the end of this long, very pessimistic piece, I said there’s three buckets of reform. So let’s call them three reform imperatives. Three things we have to do. And I may be wrong about the particulars, but I think these are three things we have to do. One is we have to harden our democratic and epistemic institutions so they can continue to function even if we have more polarization. Odds are we’re going to be more polarized, more hateful in five years than we are now. There’s no sign of a turnaround coming any time soon. Odds are there’s going to be more political violence, as there was, say, in the 1960s and 70s and at other periods. So how can we function even when things are worse than they are today?

And there are a lot of smart people that have been suggesting reforms, the biggest single one being open primaries. And so these are things that any state—Alaska has done it, a few states have done it. If you have closed-party primaries, then your congress-people, they don’t care about the people in their state because they don’t matter. All that matters is the 10 percent that vote in their party primary. So that makes them much more extreme. Congress-people are mostly reasonable people who go to Washington to make things better. But they—I’ve talked to many of them—they’re so frustrated because to survive, they have to do things that they know are bad for the country. So let’s help them out. Every state, please start an initiative. Do what Alaska did: open primary followed by something like final five voting, final four voting, approval voting, there are a variety of mechanisms. But the key is that everybody runs together in the initial primary and that means more reasonable people will join that initial primary. So that’s the most important one. A lot of other pro-democracy reforms. Redistricting: it shouldn’t be a partizan process. It shouldn’t be gerrymandering, things like that.

The second reform imperatives, we have to make social media less toxic to democracy, which means [we] have to make it so—everyone’s focused on content moderation: “Oh, my God, Elon Musk is going to do less content moderation” if you’re on the left. The left is freaked out that he’ll do less and the right is celebrating that he’ll do less. That’s it. But that’s not where the action is. Content moderation is not that important. You have to have some, otherwise everything is pornography and Nazis. So he’s going to find, you have to have some content moderation. But that’s so trivial compared to what really matters, which is the dynamics. What messed us up isn’t that people post crazy stuff. It’s that after 2009, any crazy stuff can get out to millions of people within a day. That’s what’s messing us up. It’s the dynamics, the viral dynamics, and the fact that any jerk or Russian agent can open 1,000 accounts in a day and just use them to harass people. There’s no stop. There’s no reason they can’t. And so Elon Musk has actually said that he at least will crack down on bots. I think we need to go a little further, have identity authentication. You have to prove that you’re a real person in a particular country and you’re old enough to use the platform. And this is crucial. We have to have age verification. We have to. Because there is no way to keep our children out of everything, including pornography, if we don’t have age authentication.

And that’s the third bucket, is we have to now, we have to—. Because, look, my God, if everyone born after 1996 is more fragile and unable to deal with competing opinions, we can’t have a democracy. And, of course, these are our own children we’re talking about. So we have to get them out playing and keep them off of the phones and especially social media until after puberty. Now, I’m not saying you can’t have an iPhone till you’re 16, but you shouldn’t be on any platform where you get rated until you’re 16. And so I would urge everybody here if you’re listening and you have kids, go to It’s a nonprofit I co-founded with Lenore Skenazy because it’s hard for you to just take your kid out because then they’re excluded, they’re isolated. It’s a social trap that we’re all in. The platforms put us in this trap. So Let Grow is about let’s change state laws so that parents can actually allow their kids to play in a park without worrying about getting arrested for child neglect. And let’s find other free-range parents so that our kids can play together, which is what they really want to do anyway. So it’s hard to solve this on your own. There’s a lot you can do, but if you combine with others in your neighborhood or your friends or your kids’ friends’ parents, then you’re very powerful. So that’s, I think, the way out for parents. 

Cherie Harder: Andy, let me ask you the same question in a slightly different way, which is, Jon opened his article with a metaphor about Babel, and you end your book with a very different architectural metaphor, and that is of a canopy, a canopy of trust spread to essentially cultivate being known, being loved, and becoming fully human. So how can we build canopies of trust in the rubble of Babel?

Andy Crouch: You know, the verb that we were drawn to a moment ago was to how do we harden some things? How do we kind of reinforce some institutions? I do see the need for that. In a way there’s another side, which is how do we soften our closest relationships? So I was very struck in the past few years thinking about that all risk has to take place in an environment of trust. And I started to think of it as like a— at first I thought it was an umbrella. Like you and I, even for this conversation, we made a set of explicit and implicit promises to listen to one another, to show up for an hour, to be prepared, to not be multitasking, at least I’m not, to like really be present. And there’s an expectation of a certain regard for one another, a certain attention to one another. All these things that in some ways are so obvious, but not actually to be taken for granted in our public world. And that creates this little umbrella under which a really fruitful conversation can happen, because I can trust not that we’ll agree about everything or have the same perspective on everything, but a certain kind of trust between us.

And then I thought about how, in a way, all of human life takes place under these kind of cascade of umbrellas, because it’s not just the three of us. Jon teaches at a university. A university has been at least a kind of umbrella of trust for a certain kind of pursuit of knowledge. Cherie, you work at a nonprofit. The structure of the modern nonprofit is a kind of umbrella of trust, of donors and implementers and so forth. And that goes all the way up to the canopies of trust of whole nations. And I turn to the metaphor of canopy first because of this very influential book in sociology of religion called The Sacred Canopy by Peter Berger, who argued that actually human beings, perhaps to survive and thrive, have to ultimately feel that when they look up at the heavens, they experience a kind of sacred canopy, that there is some way to trust what’s going on in this seemingly wild and chaotic world.

And then I realized, there is this very interesting detail about Jewish weddings, which is that they take place under a canopy, the chuppah. Right. Which interestingly has to be outdoors. You can’t get married, if I understand accurately, you can’t get married inside. Or if you get married in a Jewish wedding hall, there’s an open space, open to the sky, but with a canopy over the couple. And I think that’s such a powerful metaphor, that we have to step out into the wildness of creation under the huge sky. But then we create this canopy of trust where two people initially, and then perhaps the children they beget and so forth, can shelter.

It seems to me, the basic work of repair for the rest of my lifetime certainly, probably for several generations—because I think these canopies have been eroded in all kinds of ways by modernity—is for us to rebuild at many different scales, but certainly starting with our closest relationships, the canopies of trust where human beings do not go into the world fundamentally fearful, fundamentally ashamed, fundamentally on edge, but actually go into the world sensing there is room to be human here. That’s a really tall order. In the book, I talk some about how I think that’s been done through the last 2,000 years by the Christian movement. But it’s the task of our time.

Cherie Harder: That’s fantastic.

Jonathan Haidt: Wow. If I could just comment on that very briefly. So I’m reform Jewish. You know, weddings occur indoors in hotel rooms under a canopy. But no, no, you’re probably right there for the Orthodox. There probably is a rule that you have to be outdoors. I don’t know. But I just want to point out, again, the incredibly close fit with what you just said with attachment theory. That is, when you feel that you have a secure base, that you’re not going to get slaughtered, like you actually, “Okay, God is looking out for me,” then I can venture out. But when I’m afraid, when there’s nobody protecting me, then I’m not going to take chances. And so, yes, that is beautiful. We’ve lost that canopy of trust. And that is why we’re getting stupid. Our kids are getting fragile. Yes, I love it. I love it.

Cherie Harder: Well, as you can imagine, there are tons of questions that have come in. So we’re going to take the last 15, 20 minutes or so and try to get through some of these excellent questions in from our viewers, and we’ll take the first one from Sean Gallagher. Sean asks, “Given how politics reflects the people and political reforms can only go so far, have you thought about some of the anti-fragile ways in which we can grow better as individuals in personal relationship and in civic society in this post-Babel century?” Jon, you want to take the first shot at that one?

Jonathan Haidt: Sure. So first, I do not think it’s true that politics reflects the people. There is no way to know what the people think. On Election Day, you know, yes. Then we do get a view, not of everybody, but of those who vote. On every other day, in the post-Babel world, in the social media world, we have no idea what people think. All we know is what the loud, angry people think. And when I was giving my Senate testimony, there was a senator in there who famously was caught a few weeks ago giving a speech—big, you know, big speech—and then he sits down and he was caught on camera, like, checking his Twitter feed to see how he did. So he is not responding to the people. He’s responding to his followers on Twitter or what people are saying. So that’s one of the fundamental problems is that our politics does not reflect the people. It reflects a distorted image of what some people are doing and saying.

But I like the way that Mr. Gallagher was thinking about this. Are there anti-fragile, are there strength-building things we can do as a people? Yes, national service. Military service. I think given how badly Gen Z is doing and given the fact that when an 18-year-old shows up on a college campus today, they have the maturity, they have the life experience, of a 15-year-old from 20 or 30 years ago. So I don’t think that 18-year-olds should be coming to college. Please don’t send your 18-year-old to college. They’re not ready anymore. If everybody took two years off—. I would love it if—my son is 15—I would love it if he would go work in Arkansas or Alaska. If he would go work—you know, I’m in New York City—if he would live in a red state and get a job, you know, and there’d be some family that cares, you know, not just go out there and, you know, hope for the best. But I would love to have like an exchange program or a national service program. And then if he comes to school at 20, he would really be able to, you know, he’d be ready to really grow and learn from it.

Cherie Harder: I’ll toss this next question to you, Andy. It’s from Jason Montoya. And Jason asked, “How can we best live with a post-Babel mindset and how do we teach that to our kids?”

Andy Crouch: Well, I might take the question kind of literally and say the post-Babel mindset in the Hebrew Bible—Babel is Genesis 11—what comes next is really important. It’s Genesis 12. It’s the selection by God of this wandering Aramaean named Abraham and his wife Sarai, at that time. They become Abraham and Sarah in the course of the story. And it’s this redemptive intervention in a world that has been undone by human hubris. Genesis 3 through 11 are sort of the downward spiral of a human project of trying to establish itself apart from God. And then in Genesis 12, there’s this interruption in the story and this kind of restart with a redemptive people, initially a couple, then a family. It really takes three generations to even get the story going. The Book of Genesis is a book of three or, depending on your account, four generations, all the way down to the generation of Joseph and his brothers. And so, you know, what I would do and what we tried to do with our children who are now young adult children is inculcating in them the idea you are not just part of this messed up world, you are part of a rescue mission within it. You’re part of a redemptive community within it, and you’re part of a multigenerational story of repair.

I think we have to, I mean, there are some— I mean, I would love to see us do many of the things you described, Jon, immediately, if we could, and as quickly as we can. But real repair, I think, is going to take several generations. And so preparing our children to see themselves as part of a redemptive intervention, at least if you’re a religious person, that God is actually active, that God has—just because everything’s scattered and messed up— The truth is the confusion of Babel is actually mercy of God. It’s rather than let them do this consolidated project of forgetting their human calling and settling down and becoming like God, the confusion is a necessary step in the reestablishing of the image bearers. So teach your children— I mean, I say in Tech-Wise Family, every child needs to hear over and over “Our family is different.” There’s a version of this in the Jewish tradition. “Why is this night different from every other night? Why are we a different people from just the empires of the world?” Well, it’s because there’s a story. Tell your children the story and then make the connections to our time and our place. And that’s part of what I try to do in the new book.

Jonathan Haidt: And I love what Andy said. If I could just add very briefly, I would just add, to live in the post-Babel world, once you understand what’s happening to us, why we’re fragmented, that means we really all need to go easier on everybody else, even people who attack us. And the line that comes to my mind is “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Andy Crouch: Wow. Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Cherie Harder: Oh, that’s great. So our next question comes from Kevin McKieran. And Jonathan, maybe you could start us off here. Kevin asked, “How could a person in the technology sector add a redemptive thread through the industry? In other words, what would a large-picture moral compass look like to help keep our work pointed in a redemptive direction?”

Jonathan Haidt: Hmm, that’s a great question. I’m a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, and I teach courses on professional responsibility. And one of the things about moral leadership and ethical leadership is you have to, you have to talk about it frequently. And then you, of course, you have to live it. If you talk, it is empty, then it’s bad. But you have to bring up the moral issues, especially in business, because if you don’t bring up the moral issues, they fade. And everyone’s doing the imperative of how do we maximize revenue and minimize costs or whatever it is.

So for example, one thing that Tristan Harris, now of the Center for Humane Technology, brought up in a famous talk when he was a Google employee, is we’re destroying everyone’s attention. We’re sucking out all of their attention. There’s an attention apocalypse. What can we do at Google so that we don’t constantly destroy everyone’s attention? So depending on if you’re doing anything with user interfaces or whatever it is, bring up this issue. Are we really serving our customers? And this is especially important if you’re in a business in which the user is not your customer. So Facebook and Twitter, the user is the product, not the customer. The customer is the advertiser. They’re the ones who pay the company. So there I would say there is a moral responsibility that unfortunately conflicts with the business imperative. And so if no one stands up against it, it’s going to be the business imperative.

Andy Crouch: Can I just add to that, Cherie, because this is so important to me and it’s an important part of my new book. In the book I talk about we need a very fundamental redesign of our aspirations for technology. And the way I put it in the book is moving from devices to instruments. So if we take devices to mean technology that replaces human effort, that displaces human beings, that doesn’t require much skill, things that just sort of operate on their own. There’s a place for those things, I think, especially when it comes to safety and certain other narrow applications. But there’s another kind of technology, which I borrow the word “instrument” for—think of medical instruments, musical instruments, scientific instruments—that is super high tech, but it fully involves human beings. Ideally, heart, soul, mind, strength. My wife’s an experimental scientist. When she goes into her lab and works with the laser table and all the other things she uses as a physicist, all that high technology is totally there to help a human being fully engage. And rather than just using that human, like you were saying, Jon, as this sort of input into a machine that feeds out money to some other customer, asking “How is what I’m building instrument-like?” And there’s so much room for us to develop more instruments using all the technological stack that we have, rather than devices that ultimately just reduce people to very thin shadows of their selves rather than what we were meant to be in the world, I think.

Cherie Harder: That’s great. So our next question comes from Nathan Swanson, and I’ll probably throw this to you, Andy, first. And Nathan asked, “What steps can local congregations or community groups take to help foster more reasonable tech use and content diets for adults and kids alike?”

Andy Crouch: Well, yeah. Two thoughts. One, I just cannot say enough how important I think Sabbath is. Sabbath, the idea of a rhythm of use and non-use, of work and rest, it’s the great gift of the Jewish people to history because empires don’t care about Sabbath. But the people of God had this command that one day in seven they would rest. And it’s very hard—as you were saying, Jon, about in a slightly different context—it’s so hard to do this kind of thing alone. But if you’re a congregation, that means you are a group of people bound by a kind of sense of the sacred, and, probably, I’m guessing, either a Jewish or a Christian expression of faith. And what these have in common is it’s a command, one day a week, to set aside all the things that give you status, significance, self-provision. And I have found it so valuable in our own family’s life to have—we actually think about it as one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year where we turn off everything that has an off switch. Certainly all the glowing rectangles get turned off, and it’s kind of crazy how effective that is in defanging these devices of their spiritual power. It’s, I mean, you would think it’s only one-seventh of a difference—in my experience, it’s actually, it makes all the difference that I don’t start my day with my phone. At the dinner hour we don’t have anything glowing for an hour in our house, including the electric lights. We turn those off, we turn on candles, because dinner is better with candles than with electric lights. I don’t care how good the lighting is in your house. And then that one day a week, I just don’t look at the screen. And then one—for me, actually two—weeks a year, I’m totally off email and totally off social media, for goodness sakes. And I’m out in nature, playing in nature the way we’re meant to do our whole lives. 

Really to sustain that requires a community that cares about it. And if there’s one thing I would love to see religious communities do, it’s teach and to some limited extent enforce or at least strongly encourage the Sabbath. And then I would also say get behind efforts like Jonathan was describing in your neighborhood, in your schools, to push back against the reliance on devices for the convenience of the institution and that often overlooks how much unintended consequences we’re paying. Get behind efforts to get this out of childhood. I mean, we just need to get this stuff out of childhood, above all.

Cherie Harder: So a final question, which I’ll pose to both of you, and, Jonathan, maybe we can start with you. And this comes from an anonymous viewer who writes, “Knowing what we know about technology, how do we hold on to hope in the face of such a challenging topic and begin to recover some of our humanity?”

Jonathan Haidt: Yeah, well, that’s especially a challenge for me as I’m writing about all this doom and gloom. And people have told me, “Hey, you know, you better not demoralize people.” And so the hopeful thing is to realize that history doesn’t go in a straight line, that there are ups and downs. And many scholars from ancient Greece and Ibn Khaldun and the Islamic world in 14th [century], I mean, a lot of scholars have noticed things go up, things go down. There are cycles. And we were due for a change. The political patterns we’ve had since the postwar world were not working. So a lot of people predicted, a lot of theories predicted, we’d have a crackup around 2020, actually. And here it is. So in a sense, it’s inevitable that there would be some breaking. And then there’s always rebuilding and there will be another cycle.

It’s always been wrong to bet against America, and it’s almost surely wrong now. We are on a downslide. We are on a downslope, and this is our great challenge. My parents were born in 1926 and 1931, and they lived through a previous era that was much darker than our own. So things will turn around. Trends don’t continue forever, and they will turn around because Americans will do things. This is what Alexis de Tocqueville noted about us in the 1830s. When there’s a problem, we don’t sit around waiting for the nobles or the king to solve it like they do in Europe, he said. Americans roll up their sleeves, they meet. They say, “How are we going to build this bridge?” “How are we going to build this school?” And then they do it. So I think coming together, and I think congregations are one of those really important, that’s probably the largest way in which Americans come together in ways that can do things. Of course, many Christian denominations are fragmenting. So you’ve got to work through a lot of that in some of your denominations. But I’m with Robert Putnam, who wrote the book—what was it? Something “Grace.”

Cherie Harder: American Grace, wasn’t it?

Jonathan Haidt: American Grace. Yes, American Grace. Yes, that’s right. That American religions are actually incredibly positive. They generate a lot of social capital. So look for ways to come together because the middle 80 percent of the country is really reasonable. And despite our differences, we have differences of the sort that make it good. That’s what democracy is all about, is bringing people together in that way. That’s what I’m trying to do at Heterodox Academy, an organization I founded with others to promote viewpoint diversity in universities., a program we made to teach people how to have conversations across difference. So there are many tools out there. There are hundreds of groups that are doing this. That’s what I think is going to turn it around.

Cherie Harder: Great. Andy?

Andy Crouch: I certainly think there are proximate reasons for hope. And then I also think, I mean, this is, a lot hinges on what you think the ultimate story is. Is Babel just a fortuitous thing or is it actually part of a larger story that leads from Genesis 11 to Genesis 12? In the new book, I had to wrestle with this, like where do we locate our hope? And I actually locate it in the first century of the common era, the first century AD, which took, you know—the early Christian movement arose in the midst of a really, really brutal empire. It was definitely as bad for people as our technological empire is, and in some ways probably worse. And a world where it was very hard to be a person and just a very lonely place for powerful and let alone the powerless. And in the midst of that empire arises this community born out of the ultimate kind of hope-giving event in history, I would say, who begin to live a different way. And they live that way for generations. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not a proximate solution to the challenges of Rome. In fact, Rome in some ways gets worse and more powerful at the same time for another couple hundred years. But at the same time, there’s this redemptive community that’s playing out its story in the midst of the Roman Empire. And I really do not know what happens to the American story. I, of course, wish good for this nation because it’s my home and these are my neighbors. So, of course, I wish good for it and hope that there is proximate hope. What I do believe is that there’s a larger story going on in human history that is really, really good for people and that’s really good news and we get to be part of it. I am not at all pessimistic in the long run. I just have some slight concerns right now.

Cherie Harder: Andy and Jon, this has been really rich as well as a delight. And in just a second, I’m going to give you both the last word as we close out. But before that, a few things just to share with our viewers. First, immediately after we conclude, we’ll be sending around an online feedback form. We’d really welcome your thoughts. We read every one of these. We try to incorporate your suggestions to make this program ever more valuable, including the suggestions we heard from many of you to include “read ahead.” So hopefully you have received both Jonathan Haidt and Andy’s recent articles that kind of shed light on this topic in advance. As a special incentive for sending along that online feedback form, we will give you a coupon code for a free Trinity Forum Reading download of your choice. Among our more than 100 titles there are several that would be particularly germane to this discussion today, including “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which we highly recommend, “Bulletins from Immortality,” “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” as well as “Politics and the English Language.” Many others as well. So hope that you will send us your thoughts and your comments.

In addition, for everyone who registered, we will be sending around an email tomorrow, probably around noon, with a edited video for today’s Online Conversation, as well as additional readings and resources. And we’d love for you to share this with friends. Start a conversation about what you’ve heard today. In addition, for those of you who signed up to participate in breakout discussion groups, they’ll be meeting right after this program is over. Just exit, as you normally do, and log on to the link that’s suggested. If you would like to enter a discussion group and talk more with others about what you’ve just heard, there should be a link in the chat feature where you can join.

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As we close out our time together, as promised, Andy and Jonathan, I’d love to give you the last word. So, Jon, maybe we can start with you.

Jonathan Haidt: Oh, sure. Well, thanks, Cherie. So my first book was called The Happiness Hypothesis, and it was about, I collected psychological statements from all the wisdom traditions I could find, and it analyzed them to see whether they’re still true. And what I discovered is that the ancients were not smarter than us, but what we get from the ancients was filtered through 50 generations. So it’s really, really good concentrated wisdom. And part of the problem with Babel is we’re cut off from that. We’re drowning in trivia that was created yesterday. And what I found, the greatest, the richest sources of wisdom were the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Bible, the Buddhist tradition, and the Stoic tradition. Those three turn out to be just the richest in psychological insights. So I just identified two Stoic quotations. It’s as though they knew what social media was and they were warning us not to do it. So here they are.

Epictetus says, “If your body was turned over to just anyone, you would doubtless take exception. Why aren’t you ashamed that you’ve made your mind vulnerable to anyone who happens to criticize you so that it automatically becomes confused and upset?” I mean, that’s Twitter. He said, “Don’t go on Twitter.” And then this is Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius said, “The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.” So avoid degrading things. Avoid things that lower you. Focus, expose yourself to things that elevate you, like the Trinity Forum, for example.

Cherie Harder: [Laughs.] Indeed. Thank you, Jon. Andy? 

So interesting you put it that way, Jon, because I was thinking about what I would say and I wanted to quote the great wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Bible and the most important line in the whole thing: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind,”—Jesus would say—”and all your strength. And then it goes on this way. And I think it’s significant for us. “Keep these words that I’m commanding you today in your heart, recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home, when you are away, when you lie down, when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand. Fix them as an emblem on your forehead and write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.” Ultimately, it comes down to what’s written on our heads, our hands, the gates of our homes, the life we’re living with our children and our neighbors in the world.

Jonathan Haidt: Amen.

Cherie Harder: Andy and Jon, thank you so much. What a joy.

Jonathan Haidt: Thank you. Thank you, Andy.

Andy Crouch: Really, really fun. Thank you.

Cherie Harder: Thank you to each of you for joining us. Have a great weekend.