Ep 13 – “A Common Humanity” with Wilk Wilkinson

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“Ep 12 – “A Common Humanity” with Wilk Wilkinson


Wilk Wilkinson joins me to discuss his journey from political apathy to toxic political engagement, followed by the epiphany that has since led him on a mission of bettering the world, one attitude at a time, by charting a course toward understanding, bridging divides, and fostering a community where wisdom prevails over discord.

We talk about how this mission shapes Wilk’s work with Braver Angels and the Derate the Hate podcast. We also discuss Wilk’s personal faith as a Christian, his commitment to individual liberty as a conservative, and his views on gun ownership and safety. This timely conversation emphasizes the importance of engaging with diverse perspectives and finding common humanity with others, even when we disagree.

To hear a prior conversation between Wilk and myself where we go deeper into “braving the gun divide” – you can listen to the Braver Angels podcast episode of that name here.

Guest Links


If you enjoy this podcast and would like to find more content like this, please visit my website at www.markbeckwith.net, where you can listen to more episodes (and read episode transcripts), read my blog, and sign up to get weekly reflections in your inbox. I also explore the themes of this podcast further in my book, Seeing the Unseen: Beyond Prejudices, Paradigms, and Party Lines.

This episode of the Reconciliation Roundtable podcast was edited, mixed, and produced by Luke Overstreet.



[00:00:00] Mark: Welcome to Reconciliation Roundtable. My name is Mark Beckwith. I’m your host. I’m the retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and currently do many things, including inviting people like my guest today, Wilk Wilkinson, to talk about their journey and their passion, their virtues, their concerns, and to hear how Their faith has grown and been challenged and deepened over the course of time.

[00:00:29] Wilk describes himself as a husband, father, Christian conservative, and host of the Derate the Hate podcast. He lives in Clearwater, Minnesota. He’s been a truck driver currently is logistics and transportation manager for a wholesale industrial goods company. We know each other through our work with Braver Angels, which is a national movement to depolarize America.

[00:00:54] He’s been part of the working people’s project of Braver Angels. And this past July, he served as the red co-chair of the convention, which 700 people, equal number of Conservatives and progressives together to talk about how we can offer the best of who we are to decolorize America and bring e pluribus unum, out of many one, he began the Derate podcast in 2020, and he’s had 200 episodes. He just said to me that next week he will have David Brooks, the New York Times columnist on his Derate the Hate podcast.

[00:01:36] He’s passionate, he’s clear. He and I have done some podcasts together on the whole issue of guns. What was wonderful about that is we had disagreed about some things, but we also had a deep respect and were intently listening to one another, and I grew from that. And it’s just a real honor, Wilk, to have you be a part of this Reconciliation Roundtable. So welcome to you.

[00:02:02] Wilk: Thank you so much, Mark. It’s great to see you again. I’ve enjoyed our conversations in the past, and I know this is going to be another one that I’ll take with me, and something I enjoy very much. It’s an honor. Thank you.

[00:02:13] Mark: Good, good. Wilk, in your blogs, you said in your own life journey you didn’t pay much attention to either politics or the news until 9/11, nearly 23 years ago. What was the energy that got you so committed to the things that you are now committed to? What was that energy impelling you forward?

[00:02:39] Wilk: You know, 9/11 was obviously a huge turning point for so many people before the internet age, before everything was at our constant fingertips and everything else. I think that was one of those things that really changed people and got people paying attention to things on a broader scale, rather than, you know, what was just right in front of us at the time.

[00:03:07] All of a sudden, the world was on our doorstep. Americans for so long had been kind of isolated from a lot of the ugly that was happening around the planet at that time. Now, all of a sudden, the devil was at our door, so to speak, we had to start kind of paying attention to this global terroristic threat.

[00:03:30] Now, for me, I mean, I wasn’t somebody who really paid attention at all to politics. I didn’t watch the news. In fact, I spent very little time watching television and I still don’t watch hardly any television at all. One of the things that really changed things for me, Mark, was the way that – immediately after 9/11 – the country kind of came together in this moment of patriotic unity and really, you know, we started seeing flags flying everywhere. More people were putting flags up in their yard and on their houses and the little things that they would stick on their car windows with the American flags on it. We saw so many of those things, right? People were really coming together.

[00:04:17] At that point, I couldn’t have told you, Mark, the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. I had no idea what the parties meant. Even when I was in the service prior to that, I served under Clinton. I knew Clinton was a Democrat. I knew I wasn’t a real big fan, but I didn’t really pay enough attention to really care one way or the other.

[00:04:37] Then fast forward a little bit, not too terribly long, when I started realizing how venomous people who are becoming towards George Bush and the things that I would hear people say on the radio. I drove cab for a long time. Right after I got out of the service, I kind of got hooked on talk radio, not political talk radio, but just kind of talk radio, like the call-in shows.

[00:05:06] And when I started hearing just this venom that people were talking about George Bush with, and then, you know, the people starting to protest the war and so I started paying attention more and as I paid attention more. The more I got frustrated with the things that I was hearing. So gradually I became more and more vested in what was going on, you know, locally, nationally, globally, and just started paying more and more attention.

[00:05:37] And eventually this led into me becoming one of those more toxic people. I felt like I had to fight back as the internet and social media and things like that grew. My animus for the people who thought differently than I did, started to grow and I started to engage in some of that online toxicity. And then I changed that around and now I do what I do now.

[00:05:57] Mark: What caused you to want to do Derate the Hate? I mean, it just came to you as you have written about and talked to me about. Where was that coming from in you?

[00:06:07] Wilk: So the Derate the Hate thing originally started with a little bit different goal in mind. Because at the time when I initially started in 2019, I started a t shirt company that was actually geared towards poking at the liberal mindset in a lot of different ways, right? Like one of the slogans on one of my shirts I use as an example was “my rights don’t end where your feelings begin,” or well, a lot of them might’ve gone back to what you and I have talked about before, whether you want to call it gun safety legislation or gun control, I would make comments on my shirts about those.

[00:06:46] Well, I would advertise those on social media, and I would get some of the most. Incredible hate mail. I mean, people would say some of the nastiest things to me, telling me that they hope my house burns down or I should go kill myself or wishing harm upon my family for my viewpoint. So, I’m thinking about different things in my head, Mark, and I’m trying to figure out how I want to react to these things.

[00:07:16] My initial thought was, “This is hateful stuff. Maybe I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing, and I’ll poke fun back at them.” And I’ll do these haters happy hour and I’ll kind of… but then I had this epiphany one day and I’m like, is that really going to accomplish anything? Is it going to get anything done?

[00:07:35] Is it really going to make things better or is it going to make things worse? Or, you know, at the very least it just accomplishes nothing and wastes a bunch of my time. And then I got to thinking about it and I’m like, what if we just tried to better the world and better people’s attitude? Because in my opinion.

[00:07:54] Most of what we can do as individuals to better the world is better our own lives, better our own attitude. So then I started thinking about that, and then all of a sudden, bettering the world one attitude at a time, you know, became my mission statement, and Derate the Hate came to mind because being in the trucking and transportation industry, the word derate is something that, We deal with all the time because if a truck D rates, it means it’s basically shutting down its powertrain system or slowing down that powertrain system.

[00:08:25] So it doesn’t destroy itself. And it just, you know, it kind of rhymed nicely. It did flow well with hate and turning down the hate just made sense. So just all these things just started coming to me. And then all of a sudden, I come up with Derate the Hate, bettering the world one attitude at a time begins with each of us as an individual. And, you know, that was the inception of it.

[00:08:49] Mark: Yeah. So, you’re making t-shirts poking at the other side and you’re getting all this nasty stuff back and you’ve had this epiphany as you just described it, to build a better world, change attitudes one at a time. What sort of feedback are you getting? Or do you still get people who come at you like they did before?

[00:09:14] Wilk: I do not nearly as often. I get a lot more accolades these days from people that maybe once would have, you know, said something derogatory, they, like our mutual friend, Monica Guzman, you know, her book, I never thought of it that way. I get statements like that. You know, people will be like, you had this guest on the other day and they said something about something I, I disagree with and, you know, I never really thought of it that way.

[00:09:40] So that always makes me feel really good. But not nearly as much hate mail anymore. I mean, there are a lot of people out there, Mark, that have a very strong invested interest in keeping us divided. But it’s awfully difficult to stand there and justify your position for wanting to keep us divided.

[00:10:04] So typically, the people that are against my mission will stay silent because not so many people try to say that quiet part out loud. You know, they know that what they’re doing is wrong. They know they benefit from it in some way or another, but they’re not going to go out and vocally say, “Oh yeah, this is what we’re doing… we love stirring the pot. We love making sure that people stay divided.”

[00:10:32] Mark: What are the joys of the work that you’re doing with Braver Angels, Derate the Hate, Bettering the World? What are the joys for you in that?

[00:10:41] Wilk: The internal peace and the things that I have learned, Mark. So, I absolutely love – any day that I learned something new is a mission accomplished day for me. I mean, I absolutely love to learn, and book learning is not my favorite thing. Real life lessons in being able to learn about somebody or really dive into and get to know somebody that I may have never ever been able to meet otherwise, or trying to figure out the mindset behind a certain topic that I just couldn’t get my mind around before. Those kinds of things make me feel awesome. But the internal peace that I get from doing this depolarization work by having these conversations with the people that I get to have conversations with these days. people that I agree with or people that I disagree with, I mean, I find equal joy in the self-control that I find I have now, you know, rather than becoming combative and ugly and starting a battle of attitudes or, things like that, being able to truly see the humanity in another human being that I completely disagree with on policy or opinion, but coming away from that conversation, knowing that, we are two human beings is still respect each other and by all rights can call each other friends. That internal peace that I get from that joy, that feeling that I have in my soul from doing things like that is awesome. I mean, it’s one of the great joys of my life to be able to do things like that now.

[00:12:26] Mark: You identify yourself as a Christian and a Christian conservative. What does that mean to you?

[00:12:33] Wilk: Well, this is something that I’ve talked about a number of times, Mark. and I talk about being a husband, a father, you know, a Christian conservative, a podcast host, all of those different things. In many ways, people will attach their identity to certain things within their life. But me, I try to think of myself as a, number of different things and no one thing really makes up my identity, but there are many things that play a part in my overall individual identity. That’s me. Now, obviously, being a Christian, Mark, you know people who are Christians, that’s a huge part of, who we are.

[00:13:18] The fact that, I believe Jesus Christ died for our sins and, you know, I believe that, one day, once, my time on this rock is over, I get to spend the rest of eternity, you know, living in the afterlife with Jesus and all his followers. You know, I believe that I believe Jesus died for our sins and I believe that takes a huge weight off of my earthly being and that’s a fantastic thing.

[00:13:43] You know, my conservatism – and I don’t believe in conservatism so much as a political philosophy anymore as just a way of life. I mean, I do strongly believe in the founder’s vision of this country, the social compact that all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. and we get to live in this country, not under the thumb of any one authoritarian figure or the authoritarian nature of the majority. But we all have those individual rights, and nobody can take those from us without just cause, obviously, right? So that idea of conservatism and just the individual liberty that comes along with conservatism, that’s part of my identity.

[00:14:38] Mark: Yeah, no, that’s great. And so many people over the course of their life have ups and downs in their faith journey, or sometimes have sort of let it go altogether. Has your faith journey been pretty consistent or have there been changes, at one point or another?

[00:14:57] Wilk: Oh man, I’m glad you asked. So yeah, imagine the world’s craziest rollercoaster and that could probably describe my faith journey, Mark.

[00:15:06] never been one to consistently go to church over and over. And I don’t think a marker of one’s faith journey is measured by the amount of time. And this is just my personal opinion, my life experience, but I don’t think that’s true marker of one’s spirituality or faith journey.

[00:15:28] Now, me personally, I went to church with my folks once in a while, when I was a kid, they were never ones to go to church on a regular basis, we’d go in spurts, you know, sometimes we’d go every Sunday for a month or two, or, you know, maybe a little longer than that. Sometimes we’d go spans of years without actually going to church, sometimes prayed before meals.

[00:15:47] So there was never a consistent thing there as a child, you know, went to Sunday school. Read the Bible when I could or felt like it. Then as I became an adult, I had so much animosity and so much internal anger and external animus and things, you know, sometimes God was just there to blame for my problems.

[00:16:13] And then there’s other times that, just to be completely honest, where I said “if you’re real, where are you give me some kind of sign because I’m not buying it anymore. I have had it. I’m not doing this anymore.” And then there was other times, Mark, where I was so mad at God. I said “you know what, if you’re real, just get me off this planet. I don’t want to be here anymore. Just be done with it.”

[00:16:35] Like I said, there were ups and downs and then there was other times where I just, you know, I didn’t have anything going on a Sunday morning. I’d go check out a church that I’d never been to, didn’t care what denomination, just went and sat in church and listened to what was being said. And then a lot of my church was nature too. I mean, just getting out amongst the trees and the animals. And I mean, I’ve. I’ve been a hunter my whole life and, you know, spending time in nature, you know, I, I read the Bible and, a lot of the stuff I know about Christianity is, self-taught or, through conversations with other Christians.

[00:17:10] But it has been a, it has been a wild ride. Everything from loving God, hating God, not believing in God, believing that God was the only thing that was going to save me. And, yeah, it’s been wild.

[00:17:25] Mark: Well, I appreciate your honesty and your vulnerability. And in my experience, honesty and vulnerability brings us closer to the one who gives us life. So I really appreciate your saying it and saying it that way. You’ve also written that you’re deeply committed to individual liberty. And I think you put a comma, period. Say more about that, about individual liberty, what hold that has on you.

[00:17:57] Wilk: Yeah. So, you know, individual liberty and personal accountability go hand in hand.

[00:18:02] And I think the concepts of personal accountability and individual liberty have provided the best environment for the greatest number of people ever in history. The individual liberty idea is that me as an individual, I don’t get to depend on anybody else or I should not depend on anybody else to, take care of me and in turn, I should be able to do pretty much what I want to do, providing that I’m not a burden on anybody else. Meaning it is up to me as an individual to make sure that I’m not breaking any laws, I’m not imposing any kind of undue force or fraud on any other person. And in doing so, I’m free to the fruits of my labor, I’m free to act as I wish, as long as I’m not, like I said, destroying the property of others, hurting other people, taking the fruits of somebody else’s labor, things like that.

[00:19:13] Where I get very frustrated is when the fruits of my labor are taken from me and then used to benefit other people who have chosen not to put in the same kind of efforts that I do. Where that individual liberty thing comes in for me is, and again, like I said, it’s all part of the individual, the conservatism, right?

[00:19:35] The individual rights, the individual liberty. We don’t impose our will on other people and expect that nobody else is going to impose their will on us either. And by rights, we should be able to get along a lot better at that point, in my opinion.

[00:19:55] Mark: And we’ve had this conversation before, and we can echo it again to a limited degree, around the whole issue of guns. And you and others that I’ve talked to who are on the gun rights side say “this is my right. I’m safe with my weapons.” And I have learned with people who hunt and have guns at home are insistent on being safe. And that to regulate guns more than they’re regulated is a threat to individual liberty. Whereas for, where I come from it’s “more guns render us less safe.” So talk more about the individual liberty of gun ownership and your commitment to that.

[00:20:42] Wilk: You know, I guess it really depends Mark on who has the guns. I mean, I think per capita, if you look at rural America, there are far more guns in rural America than there is in most of your inner city areas, right? Per capita. I mean, certainly if you look within, let’s say 20 miles of my house, I can tell you that the vast majority of households probably have multiple guns in them, multiple, and the murder or violent crime rate within 20 miles of my house is virtually nonexistent. There’s nothing going on in terms of violent crime in the event or in the unlikely event that one of those things does happen. It usually does not have to do with a gun and it’s probably in some way, shape or form, either domestic violence or drug-related.

[00:21:43] So the number of guns is typically not a true marker of, or a true measure of safety. Now there’s a lot of other things that we can look at when it comes to the violence in inner cities and how that violence is, you know, what other factors there are. Many of those violent crimes within cities do have to do with guns, but are guns the causation of the violent crime or are they just a byproduct of something else and the root cause of that crime is something else?

[00:22:25]  So when I think of “more guns, less crime” – in most cases, the guns that are being used to perpetrate violent crime in this country are guns that have been obtained illegally, or they’re in the possession of people that should not have had them anyway, because there’s already a law preventing them from having them and the idea of trying to punish law abiding citizens to try and make other people safer is just not reality in most cases.

[00:22:59] Mark: That would be punishing people? That’s your idea. If guns were restricted more, that would be a seen as a punishment?

[00:23:07] Wilk: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, anytime somebody tries to take anything away from me for reasons that have nothing to do with me, that is a punishment. That stands completely in contrast to the concept of individual liberty, in my opinion. You know, I’ve spent my whole life around guns. I’ve been around guns literally since the day that I was born. And I was trained thoroughly by my father and other family members. And then some in the military, some with volunteer law enforcement training, things like that. But I’ve been around guns literally my whole life. I’ve taken several gun safety classes, most voluntarily some because it was a government mandated thing, which is fine.

[00:23:56] You know, I’ve got no problem with people being exposed to more and more safety training when it comes to guns. But at some point, the number of regulations that they try to impose on people who are statistically no threat to anybody else, at that point, it’s just a punitive measure to try and make it more inconvenient for people to exercise their rights than to really do anything that’s to any benefit of anybody.

[00:24:29] Mark: Okay. Yeah, I think we might disagree on that. I mean, what we know now is that the greatest cause of death in children is by guns. And many of them get guns that… I remember talking to somebody who was an instructor, gun instructor, and he kept his gun in a lock box in his kitchen and he pressed three or four buttons to get the gun out, and his three-year-old finally figured out which three or four buttons to push and how she gets the gun. It just registers a greater opportunity for something to go wrong.

[00:25:07] That said, I may have mentioned to you that several years ago, I went to a gun show where I realized, oh my gosh, guns are deeply connected to the American culture. They’ve been with us from the beginning. And I’m aware that people on the gun violence prevention side, where I spend some of my time, we come at it with a level of arrogance and self righteousness, which I could imagine is just so irritating.

[00:25:37] Wilk: Yeah, and I think that same idea, Mark, can be applied to, almost any controversial topic, right? I mean, it’s surely not exclusive to guns or gun safety legislation or gun violence prevention or, however you want to term it. And the thing is, I will tell you from being part of that Americana gun culture thing that you’re talking about and having that deeply ingrained in the life that I’ve lived my whole life, that the people who own the majority of guns in this country believe the same things and they practice gun safety on a much, much higher level than most people would ever give them credit for, you know?

Mark: And that’s where I’ve learned. Yeah.

Wilk: Yeah. You know, because there is no greater nightmare as a parent than the idea of harm coming to one of our children and that harm coming as a result of our own negligence. I mean, that is a nightmare that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody. So making certain that none of my guns would ever be used in [that] way. And I don’t care whether it’s one of my children, Mark, or somebody else’s child or somebody else… the greatest nightmare any human being should ever have is the idea that either they had to take another person’s life. Or that person’s life was cut short because of our negligence, and my life experience has shown me that the vast majority of gun owners have that same mentality, you know, I’m a person who has a concealed carry permit. I believe strongly in the idea of carrying a firearm for self protection in most respects, you know, where I’m able to do.

[00:27:36] So, now, the idea that I would ever have to use that firearm to take another person’s life is nightmarish, but sometimes those nightmarish things are necessary, the same reason that we have fire extinguishers. It’s the same reason we have law enforcement, same reason we have military, you know, these things are taken into or put into action in humanity’s worst scenarios. And unfortunately, that’s just part of the world in which we live.

[00:28:08] Mark: We both are deeply engaged in Braver Angels and at the leadership level, there’s equal representation of. Blue are more progressive and red, more conservative. And the intent is not to pull one side to the other, but to come up with common ground from your perspective as a more conservative person, what do you, either through Braver Angels or your Derate the Hate podcast, what do you want to be communicating to people on the other end of the political perspective? What would you like people like me to know and to hear and to understand?

[00:28:52] Wilk: Keep having conversations. I mean, that is the biggest, thing about this whole thing, Mark. It’s just like, I’ll bring up our common friend again, Mónica Guzmán, one of my favorite people on this planet. You know, she says, those people that are underrepresented in our life will become overrepresented in our mind.

[00:29:11] And then to quote another friend of mine, Daryl Davis, those people that we don’t know and don’t listen to and don’t take the time to understand that ignorance about those people, that are now overrepresented in our mind because they are underrepresented in our life. That ignorance factor increases fear, that fear increases anger, leads to violence.

[00:29:35] That is how this polarization thing really gets out of control is by people staying in their own silos and staying away from people who have differing mindsets than their own. So we have to keep having the conversations and not just conversations with people that agree with them. We just like you and I are doing today, Mark, and like we’ve done before, and like I’ve done with countless other people. Get to really know who other people are. Get to know them deeply. Whether they agree with you or not, find out who they are as a human being, and then come to that understanding, there is a common humanity in all people. And just because they think differently than you doesn’t mean that you guys can’t relate on many different levels. I will tell you, and to quote another one of the great colleagues we have at Braver Angels, David Blankenhorn, “we all have our blind spots, but not one of us is not worth talking to.” And that means so much to me, Mark, because on my podcast, I have had people – I will give you a perfect example. One of the people that I’ve had on the Derate the Hate podcast multiple times, a friend of mine, Jeff Scoop used to be the head of the National Socialist Movement, the American Nazi party.

[00:31:06] You know, the NSM National Socialist Movement. And Jeff Scoop was basically pulled out of that movement because of the conversations that he was having with a black man, Daryl Davis. Daryl Davis has been instrumental in walking over 200 people, I think at this point, out of movements like the Ku Klux Klan and the national socialist movement, the American Nazi party, because he had conversations with people that absolutely wanted his existence eradicated.

[00:31:42] But in having those conversations and being able to show those folks that he was a another human being with the same wants and desires that all human beings have: a good job, a good place to sleep, the security and love of his family and food in his belly, you know, having conversations with people, even people that hate us, Mark, can produce incredible results.

[00:32:10] And if we are not having those conversations, if we just buy into this idea that anybody who ascribes to a ideology of hate is a monster and we will not associate or talk to monsters… Hate will never, ever eradicate hate, derate the hate. The only way we can eliminate or derate the hate is to show love. We have to have conversations with people of unlike mindsets, even some of the worst mindsets in the world. But instead of that, so often people fall into these silos because there are so many people, whether it be in the media or in politics or on social media, these “grievance grifters” and “outrage entrepreneurs” are so vested in keeping us separated and keeping us hating each other. And that is the easy thing to do. It is easy to just hate somebody and not listen to them. But if we open up our ears, open up our hearts, open up our minds, the world can be a much, much, better place.

[00:33:22] Mark: Well, I’m glad that this has been recorded and will be broadcast because that was a sermon that reminded me of St. Thomas Aquinas of the 13th century, who said that diversity is the perfection of the universe. And you just made a really strong case for us to keep in conversation, even when no, especially when we don’t want to…

[00:33:49] Wilk: Especially when we don’t want to.

[00:33:52] Mark: Especially when we don’t want to. And that is the glue that’s going to pull us back together. And as you said, there are no end of forces and voices out there that want to keep us apart. And I’m just so grateful that you are where you are and how you offer the best of who you are to. bring people together, not necessarily to agree, but to acknowledge our common humanity and that we are all vulnerable as you have expressed here in our time together. So, Wilk, I just really want to thank you for this time. And for the audience, how can people follow you?

[00:34:36] Wilk: It’s been an absolute honor Mark, and people can follow me at deratethehate.com or wilksworld.com. Either way, you’re gonna get to the Derate the Hate site, where my podcast is broadcast every week. There’s also links in there to my blog and my YouTube channel and things like that. The best thing that people can do is continue to spread this message and have conversations with people, seek out people who have differing mindsets and that you know that you can have a goodwill conversation with, and then spread that derate the hate message and let’s all get out there and make the world a better place.

[00:35:17] I mean, as I like to say, it’s all about bettering the world, one attitude at a time. And we’re trying to give you the tools to do just that.

[00:35:27] Mark: Appreciate that. Again, I’m Mark Beckwith, host of Reconciliation Roundtable. And with me today has been Wilk Wilkinson who lives in Minnesota and is a shepherd of the Derate the Hate podcast, and a key leader in Braver Angels, where we together work to depolarize America and out of many come one, e pluribus unum. Wilk, thanks so much for being with me.

[00:35:55] Wilk: Thank you so much, Mark.

[00:36:00] Outro: Thank you for listening to this episode of Reconciliation Roundtable. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform and visit markbeckwith.net to stay up to date with new episodes, blog content and other news. Please, if you could, rate and review this podcast on iTunes. It helps new listeners to find us.


Copyright © 2024 Mark Beckwith. All rights reserved. Contact for questions involving permission to use portions of the audio or transcript elsewhere.


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Last week I attended a debate watch party.  It was held in the Carthage College chapel in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the first night of the Braver Angels Convention, an annual event that brings equal numbers of red (conservative) and blue (progressive) and yellow...

The Ten Commandments: Laws or Guidelines

Last week the governor of Louisiana signed a law mandating that the Ten Commandments be displayed in public school classrooms.  In some ways I get it, in spite of the fact that like so many it challenges the constitutional separation of church and state.  The Ten...

Mistrust and Trust

It was the spring of 1970.  The United States had just announced that it was expanding the war in Vietnam by authorizing bombing campaigns in Cambodia.  Campuses across the country erupted in protest.  On May 4, four protesting students at Kent State were shot and...

Challenges to Trusting the Process

Trust the process. This was a phrase I often heard when a strategy session or a problem-solving meeting bogged down.   The group would get stuck, and in frustration someone would either suggest we scrap the whole enterprise, or would start accusing a participant of...

Time and Space Needed for Grief and Mourning

“In war, death interrupts nothing.  Time doesn’t stop; it seems to accelerate.”  So wrote David French, in a New York Times column on May 25, 2024.  A veteran of the Iraq War, French goes on to say that in battle there is no time or space for mourning the loss of a...

Whose Land is It?

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this passage from my daily reading:     “From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates,all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory.   No one will be able...

Ep 12 – “The Church Cracked Open” with The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers

Canon Spellers shares her journey from being a skeptic and critic of the Church to becoming a senior leader with a deep faith and a commitment to social justice. We explore the themes of mission, evangelism, the power of genuine curiosity in bridging divides, and ongoing efforts to address systemic issues like white supremacy within the church.

Dealing With Fear

Tornados of fear are swirling around the world, many of them invading our psyches.  Wars in Ukraine and Gaza, not to mention Sudan and Myanmar; escalating climate change; unrelenting gun violence; immigration crises.  To my mind, the storms of fear are particularly...
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