I am borrowing a term that my pastor Lisa coined
otherizing. In the denomination of my youth and to this day
across many conservative places of worship, anyone who is
deemed “other” is often cast aside, labeled as a sinner, feared,
and/or put into boxes that encourage detachment rather than
relationship. When we otherize, we reject the common bonds
we have with all of humanity and cut ourselves off from people
who can help us understand diverse points of view, live in
authentic community, and practice loving our “neighbors.”
The result is that we fall prey to pride, arrogance, and the
necessity to be right about our own perspectives.
Liberals can be just as guilty as conservatives. Any
shade of dogmatism creates a world full of “others.” But
because the early messages imprinted within my heart and
mind were of the more religiously fundamental and
conservative nature, my initial challenge was to open up to
those who were otherized by the tradition of my youth. Yet,
interestingly, as my beliefs and ideas have shifted, I am now
faced with the task of more fully loving those who represent
my earlier religious training. Whenever and however I
designate anyone in my life as “other,” I must then take action
to open my heart and mind to the other’s point of view.
On the first go round of parenting, I mostly hung out
with like-minded parents. I naively and mistakenly believed
that this would offer a shield of protection around my children.
Participating in international adoption cracked and then blew
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