Conformity: Home Field Advantage

Wayne shares an article with Brad from Sports Illustrated about home field advantage in sports being traced to officiating that is inadvertently swayed by the home crowd. It actually makes them see things in their favor, even while being completely unaware of doing so. This phenomenon demonstrates the power of conformity and how we are shaped by the herd mentality of whatever group we are in or whatever group we are appealing to for respect. Sometimes subtle and other times overt, the process of conformity seeks to shape us into someone else's mold and actually undermines our ability to perceive the truth in what's going on around us. That's why Paul contrasts the process of conformity and the process of transformation in Romans 12. Only by resolving our approval needs in God's love for us can we break it's hold on us and Maybe we don't need people around us of like-mind, but of like passion to follow the Lord.

Podcast Links:
Orphanage Relocation in Kenya
The Remarkable Replacement Army
Sports Illustrated Article - Sorry it was not been posted on-line. You'll have to go to your library.


  1. Once again very thought provoking. What strikes me is (in my own life anyway) the huge distance remaining b/t knowing this (being free of conformity gives me greater freedom to live out the life and the love of Christ) and actually living it. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going.

  2. One thing that I would say about us that want to find others that are “like minded” is that we change. I really understand that desire to find others like me but we should think about this: what was I like 10 years ago compared to who I am now? Perhaps in 10 years from now it will be the same change. And if those around us don’t change into who we are becoming then we will have to get a whole new set of friends. Just a thought. I struggle with this too and understand the desire. Thanks for the podcast Wayne and Brad.

  3. Wow, what a conformation and encouragment to hear you guys talking about not being conformed to the worldly way of thinkiing, and your thoughts on what the worldly thinking is! I just was praying about that today before I heard your podcast, and God showed me the same thing, that the worldly thinking is fear based and or control based thinking that doesn’t let us cuddle up to Him and love on Him and let Him love on us! It just makes us be driven to always be doing what seems right or making others do what seems right to keep us from getting punished for either not pleasing our “leaders” or God or even friends or other aquaintences. It’s like being on a merry go round, and never being let off no matter how tired you are or sick you are from spinning around and around, and really you arent’ getting anywhere even though it seems you are moving forward and going somewhere. IT’s all an illusion, and it keeps us from His love and freedom!
    Thanks so much, I love it when someone confirms what God said by saying the same thing!

  4. Wayne, I too was shocked to learn that I was experiencing migraines as well without the excruciating headache part. I get dizzy spells usually followed by MILD headaches, but I don’t always get the headache. I would have never likened these to migraines since the headaches were just what I considered normal everyday kind of headaches that everyone experiences from time to time. I have since narrowed things down enough to know that Maltodextrin (food additive/flavor enhancer, which is in A LOT of processed foods and ALL fake sugars) is one of my migraine triggers. If you drink a lot of diet drinks, you might want to reconsider and see if that helps. I do best when I stay away from them. Take care and God bless.

  5. I immediately thought of what Merton said about “tradition vs. convention”. It’s a theme he revisits often in his writings and sometimes he expresses it in terms of “faith vs. conformity”, so, if we read “tradition = faith…

    In this matter of monastic tradition, we must carefully distinguish between tradition and convention. In many monasteries there is very little living tradition, and yet the monks think themselves to be traditional. Why? Because they cling to an elaborate set of conventions. Convention and tradition may seem on the surface to be much the same thing. But this superficial resemblance only makes conventionalism all the more harmful. In actual fact, conventions are the death of real tradition as they are of all real life. They are parasites which attach themselves to the living organism of tradition and devour all its reality, turning it into a hollow formality.

    Tradition is living and active, but convention is passive and dead. Tradition does not form us automatically: we have to work to understand it. Convention is accepted passively, as a matter of routine. Therefore convention easily becomes an evasion of reality. It offers us only pretended
    ways of solving the problems of living–a system of gestures and formalities. Tradition really teaches us to live and shows us how to take full responsibility for our own lives. Thus tradition is often flatly opposed to what is ordinary, to what is mere routine. But convention, which is a
    mere repetition of familiar routines, follows the line of least resistance. One goes through an act, without trying to understand the meaning of it all, merely because everyone else does the same. Tradition, which is always old, is at the same time ever new because it is always reviving–born
    again in each new generation, to be lived and applied in a new and particular way. Convention is simply the ossification of social customs. The activities of conventional people are merely excuses for not acting in a more integrally human way. Tradition nourishes the life of the spirit; convention merely disguises its interior decay.

    Finally, tradition is creative. Always original, it always opens out new horizons for an old journey. Convention, on the other hand, is completely unoriginal. It is slavish imitation. It is closed in upon itself and leads to complete sterility.

    Tradition teaches us how to love, because it develops and expands our powers, and shows us how to give ourselves to the world in which we live, in return for all that we have received from it. Convention breeds nothing but anxiety and fear. It cuts us off from the sources of all inspiration. It ruins our productivity. It locks us up within a prison of frustrated effort. It is, in the end, only the mask for futility and for despair. Nothing could be better than for a monk to live and grow up in his monastic tradition, and nothing could be more fatal than for him to spend his life tangled in a web of monastic conventions.

    What has been said here of the monastic Orders applies even more strongly to some other forms of religious life in which tradition is less strong and convention can more easily hold sway.

    (Vocation, from No Man Is An Island, page 150-152. Thomas Merton)

  6. — Confessions of a non-conformist —
    When I was 4 years old I was standing talking with some other 4 year olds. Someone asked the question “what is your favorite color?” Most of the boys said “blue” and most of the girls said “red” or “pink”. Probably because their parents had been dressing them and surrounding them with those colors. I recall distinctly as the question was coming around the circle, I thought to myself that I did not want to choose a color that the others were choosing. When it got me, I said “GREEN”. At that time I had no real love for green – the main attraction was that no one else had said it yet (in that little circle).

    After I said it, then I really did start to love green and I still do. I often tell people that my favorite color is green because red and blue were already taken 🙂

    The moral is that we also become “blind refs” when it comes to judging things related to our (sometimes) random non-conformity. I didn’t really like green better than blue or red when I was 4. My proclivity to not conform caused me to pick green and then after that I began to really think green was better simply because it was “mine”.

    In the same way, we that are not conforming to organized religion in the 21st century are in danger of becoming the religion of the non-religious. As always, i appreciate your thought provoking and entertaining banter – thanks.

  7. A couple of weeks ago when you mentioned Brené Brown’s TED talk, I listened to it and then bought the book she recently published that the talk was based on. The book also says a lot about conformity. In fact, the subtitle is “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.” (The title is, “The Gifts of Imperfection”). In it she describes her research on what she calls “wholehearted” people. She interviewed thousands of people and looked for what “wholehearted” people have in common. This book is a description of the results of her research. Although not based on any biblical study, what I found interesting was how her observation of wholehearted people is so congruent with what you guys talk about when you talk about living loved. She found that wholehearted people live with a sense that they are worthy of being loved in spite of their imperfections and are therefore able to be vulnerable and have genuine connections with other people. She found that that they have the courage not to be shamed into conforming and that belonging doesn’t come by seeking approval but by being authentic, even about our failures. Wholehearted people are resilient because they are connected to a power greater than themselves that is rooted in love and compassion, and they are resilient because they are willing to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions and not try to avoid difficulties through numbing behaviors. In fact, she made the interesting observation that it’s impossible to numb yourself only against negative emotions; that when you numb yourself, you become numb to positive emotions as well. Anyway, there are many other attributes of wholehearted people that she talks about that came out of her research. I just found it fascinating that someone could observe human behavior and discover the same truths about what makes us function that God has revealed in his scripture. It’s a good read and really helps to flesh out what it means to live from your heart.

  8. Gary wrote: “I just found it fascinating that someone could observe human behavior and discover the same truths about what makes us function that God has revealed in his scripture.”

    I’m wondering, what truths should she be seeing differently in people and how they function, depending on her belief or not? But, it is an interesting observation, and it seems that this is kinda of an issue with her video.

    I believe that there is an answer, if anyone is interested. She knows these truths, regardless of whether she is a believer or not. She, as does everyone else, has the breath of God put in her to live. That breath contains qualities and characteristics of God, basically “DNA” type of stuff. When people choose to be honest with themselves in what they write and observe, as she has been, they will see and describe these common qualities in common language. That is what she has done. People can, naturally, choose to either admit this heritage or not.

    One of the most powerful characteristics God has given us is that of choice. Choice is involved with the heart. Your choices affect yourselves and others, just as their choices affect themselves and those around them, and maybe even in the whole world, as when someone decides to take a country to war. That is cause and effect. Some call it Karma. This has been observed throughout history. Really, what one chooses for themselves, or what others choose for them, make up pretty much of one’s day.

    This does not change how one sees and relates to the Father. He is truly always there, and on the way with us. But again, his truths have been in effect long before the Bible was ever written.

    Naturally, no one has to agree, but this is what I have seen and observed, time and again; simple truths played out on the stage of life! Isn’t this what tgj freedom is really about?

  9. This discussion has helped me understand something that has been bothering me for some time and that is, why people stay in a group situation that is damaging? Why can’t they see the truth and get out before it is too late. The Jim Jones tragedy is one example, but I have been thinking more of a church group that I know of who are still meeting together, even though the Pastor has been accused by at least 7 different girls of sexual harrassment and the last accusation was from his own 10 year old granddaughter which went further than harrassment. I could not understand why the families of this group stayed, risking the safety of even more young girls, when they all know that this man has been charged and is awaiting trial. The church building is owned by him, on his land, and he is answerable to no one. His bail conditions state he has to behave himself, but there is nothing to stop him from continuing to have services and for young girls to continue to be put in danger when they are near him.
    In the opening comments to this podcast it says
    ‘the process of conformity seeks to shape us into someone else’s mold and actually undermines our ability to perceive the truth in what’s going on around us’.
    That has helped me in some way to understand (a little bit), why loving parents are still risking their daughter’s safety. This man has told the group that he has repented and God has forgiven him so that’s the end of it. AND THEY BELIEVE HIM!!!! Is that a classic example of conformity or what?

  10. Not only do our religious systems ask us to conform to a set of rules, they also make Jesus and His teachings conform to them as well. So when we are exhorted to “conform to the image of Christ”, what we are being asked to do is to conform to the image that conforms to the rules. The verse, “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” is interpreted to mean, “Don’t be like those sinful lost people who don’t go to church, but like us saved ones who do – and who have learned to follow the rules.”

    To be transformed by Christ means to be more like a good church member – not more like Him.

    Pretty clever, huh? 😉

  11. If you like the psychological concept of conformity, here is a related one: the personality trait of divergent thinking. It is tested by asking a person to list possible uses for a common article, like a pencil. Someone who is a divergent thinker will come up with more uses and more unusual uses than is average. You could say that this is a person who thinks outside the box, and I would guess would be less susceptible to conformity.

  12. Really loved this podcast. Inspired me to go see how the Message Bible translates -Romans 12:2-Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Msg bible says” Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. ”

    It is not our culture that brings the best out of us; it is a divine transforming work in our inner selves where God is doing the work; and as we yield to it; we change from wordly caterpillars to divine butterflies.

  13. Okay, Wayne,
    I know that what I am doing seems crazy, but have you ever reread a book. Well, of course you have. And then you find something new. That is why listening to these podcasts over and over is good and that is why starting at the beginning of the archive and moving forward is good. You and Brad keep throwing ideas before me that Papa wants me to hear and I get to see things that I am ready to listen to as I progress through the podcasts. I’ve almost caught up to you, but am thankful for the gems that are dropped in each podcast.

  14. Hi Andrew. Of course I understand. If it’s helpful for people to go back, we’re all for it. That’s why we leave them in the archive. We just joke about it so others don’t feel like they HAVE to to get the gist of the podcast. But if they enjoy it that’s awesome!

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