138: Prosociality, Societal Shifts, and Religion

Today’s show focuses on the Prosocial movement, a network of people who are studying and testing and putting into action practices guided by principles that put people first. Our guest, Jordan Harmon, a therapist with strong Latter-day Saint roots who practices in Utah, is part of this movement and brings it into focus for those of us who may never have encountered it. In the process, we learn what study has shown to be key factors in the success of groups whose goals are focused on the well-being of people, the biosphere, and this planet with limited resources. He draws us into the work taking place in many fields, including his own, and leads us through the movement’s guiding principles. In the final third of the discussion, he and Latter-day Faith host Dan Wotherspoon turn their attention to religion and how certain ideas, ideals, concepts, and phrases might align with prosocial notions and practices. And, of course, as they discuss religion, Mormonism and some of its notions make their appearance.

Listen in! You will learn a lot and find yourself chewing on many of the conversation’s wonderful morsels.


Latter-day Faith Retreat, “Creating Intentional Faith Journeys,” November 4th to 6th, Salt Lake City, Utah

Harmon Psychotherapy and Counseling

Lists and Charts discussed in the episode:

Core Design Principles (CDPs): first conceptualized by Lin Ostrom’s research data gathered by observing common elements of groups that are successful in managing common pool resources. then adapted by Ostrom and David Sloan Wilson from descriptive to prescriptive principles of prosocial design. 

1. shared identity and purpose

2. equitable distribution of costs and benefits 

3. Decision making process is perceived as fair by group members

4. monitory/ transparency

5. Graduated sanctions for unwanted behavior (as well as reinforcement for wanted behavior)

6. Conflict resolution mechanisms

7. Autonomy needed to enact CDPs 1-6

8. Ability to collaborate effectively with other groups using CDPs 1-7

Video of David Sloan Wilson discussing the CDPs. He’s a major scholar in this area and President of the non-profit “Prosocial World” 

Shorter video about the CPDs

A functional contextual (Pragmatic) Gospel

Gospel TermJordan’s Functional Contextual Term
GodCosmos, Reality, Truth, Life (the unfolding of), Values, Presence, “Unconditional Love,” a regulative ideal, “God insists more than exists”
Law of GodMechanisms of reality, principles of cause and effect, Love as reinforcing
Jesus ChristHuman embodiment of God & healing compassion
Spirit of God/ Holy Ghost/ Holy SpiritState of being; characterized by peace, clarity; balance of apparent opposites
AtonementAlignment with one’s deep sense of self, their “higher power” and others.
ZionInternal and external communities of peace & unity amidst diversity
Disciple of ChristAny being that seeks to embody healing compassion
Body of Christ, Church of Christ, “True Church”A group, org, ecosystem that seeks to embody healing compassion.
FaithAwareness with values based action
Love/ Charity/ compassionbeing with, suffering with, feeling with and actions that alleviate suffering
Gospel/ Religious TermsJordan’s Functional Contextual Definition
HellPeople stuck in intense suffering
SinMaladaptive Behavior (individuals, groups, systems)
Justification/redemptionValidating the valid, phenomenological empathy
RepentanceChange that aligns one with what matters most to them
ForgivenessAcceptance of other and self
Natural ManTendency toward experiential avoidance
Original SinEvolutionary mismatch
GraceAccepting we’re already accepted (Peter Rollins)
The spiritConnecting to reality (things as they are)–mindfulness & contemplative practices

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