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Jacob + Phil:
Mormon + Marxist

An Academic, Drummer, Atheist, Marxist and
A Writer, Pianist, Christian

How many people do you know who can look you in the eye, and say with all sincerity that one of their favorite people and dearest friends in all the world is also their political opposite?

Phil & Jacob can.

After spending years of visiting each other and talking across pretty much everything that divides them, neither of them have been “converted” in a wholesale ideological renovation…

But something else has changed – something deeper than conceptual disagreements alone.

It’s the value of this deeper, heart change that they’ve shared about extensively over recent years – in community talks, campus workshops, radio shows and here and here in the Huffington Post.

Oh and they wrote this book together.

Bottom line, Phil and Jacob learned for ourselves that equally thoughtful, good-hearted people can disagree about pretty much everything! (even really important stuff). If that insight changed so much for these guys – why can’t many others find the same?

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Meet Phil Neisser.

Phil is an Academic, Drummer, Atheist, Marxist, Dean of SUNY-Canton, Living with his girlfriend, Thinks the Devil is a silly idea.

Jacob on Phil: “There are few people in the world I adore as much as Phil. And honestly, our work together has become one of the highlights of my life. I find so much optimism in it. In particular, our friendship has continued to undermine the tribal demands growing louder in our ears. Oh yes, and we laugh a lot. There have been so many funny moments over the years!”

Meet Jacob Hess.

Jacob is a Writer, Pianist, Christian, Conservative, Qualitative Researcher, Married with four kiddos, Believes in the Devil

Phil on Jacob: “Despite Jacob being one of those scary Mormons (and driving me nuts sometimes with his way of thinking), is someone I’ve come to treasure and respect. He’s thoughtful and I’ve learned a lot in conversation with him. Being able to talk about any of our many differences continues to be so refreshing.”

A Little More About Jacob & Phil’s Unorthodox Friendship: Phil saw Jacob at the end of a National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation meeting. They locked eyes, and the rest is history.

Jacob on Phil: “… our work together has become one of the highlights of my life.”

Okay, well there’s a little more: Phil had just written a book called, “United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center.” Approaching Jacob he said, “I’ve been looking for a conservative to explore an idea together.” At Phil’s suggestion, Jacob and Phil spent the next year talking about everything they disagreed about in a major way – from many emails, to many phone calls. After publishing edited versions of their conversations (and their own takeaways), they appeared on This American Life before Obama’s reelection.

Since that time, they have made numerous appearances, including community and campus events, and have received an award from Public Conversations Project. They received a Fellowship from the University of Utah in 2018 to spend a few days on that campus working with students.

Phil on Jacob: “He still drives me nuts…but I love him anyway!”

Two possible titles for their joint talk:
1. You’re Not as Crazy As I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative
2. I Disagree with You, But I’m Pretty Sure You’re Not the Devil: Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative

“We would talk about our surprising discoveries in spending hours turning towards our deepest disagreements, including (a) Identifying what we really disagree about (vs. the stereotyped, soundbite portrayals of red/blue conflict), (b) Getting more clear on what we each believe and (c) Having a deeper shift in heart, without necessarily any kind of complete ideological ‘conversion.’”

A couple of themes we like to focus on include:
-Thoughtful, good-hearted individuals disagree on about…EVERYTHING
-This conversation feels scary at first…but eventually, it’s SO fun!
-Having SOMEONE to be able to ask anything…is thrilling.

What Phil & Jacob would need to come to your school: In addition to travel and lodging, we would appreciate an honorarium of $1000/each if possible.

The time-space continuum to consider: Phil is in New York, Jacob in Utah

Contact them.

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Dr. Jacob Hess
Fight the New Drug
Dr. Phil Neisser | Dean
SUNY Potsdam