Marvin Olasky – Don’t shake your spear at the other tribe

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, November 9th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here now is WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Some of our listeners are depressed about the presidential election news, but I won’t quote here the sour partisan notes I’ve received. Instead, I’ll quote one that came yesterday—one of the sweetest I’ve ever enjoyed. 

It went like this: Dear Dr. Olasky, In 1999 you told a freshman class of 500 students at The University of Texas at Austin, ‘Raise your hand if you are a Christian.’ I remember fearing the attention my raised hand would shine on me, but I raised it nevertheless. Only a few hands went up. You then said Christian journalists are becoming rare in the United States, and some who are Christians worry about publicly identifying themselves as such. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reflected on that moment in the past 20 years. It was a defining moment for me – a moment in which I was assured I would never hide my faith. I simply want to say thank you for the warning, and thank you for that defining moment in my life. Your lecture that day gave me the resolve and determination to stay true to my faith.

Wow. I had forgotten about that course. I like to think I’m a pretty good seminar teacher, but I know I’m a mediocre lecturer. I hadn’t thought anything good came of that lecturing, but one life-changer makes it all worthwhile. There’s a lesson in this: We often don’t know what we do that has a good effect on others, but the Holy Spirit might fan into flames the tiniest of sparks.

Keeping that in mind, I’ll return to politics for a moment. A research paper last year entitled “Lethal Mass Partisanship” found two of five people in each major party view the opposition as “downright evil.” About one of five agree that their political opponents “lack the traits to be considered human—they behave like animals.” Twenty percent also agree that the U.S. would be a better country if many of their political adversaries died.

Why such answers? A Brookings Institution senior fellow, Jonathan Rauch, says humans are “tribal creatures who try to ingratiate ourselves with our group. We do that by standing on the hillside shaking our spears at the tribespeople on the next hill.” That’s probably true, because of original sin. As Christians, though, we gain new hearts so we can love people of other tribes. In Christ there is neither Jew or Greek, black or white, Democrat or Republican.

So, to all the partisans among us, I have a social media recommendation. Make half of your Twitter feed people who disagree with you. Maybe some of them will follow you. Read their tweets and don’t shake your spear in response. Write and retweet what edifies. 

I’m Marvin Olasky.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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