You have to be able to imagine lives that are not yours.
Wendell Berry
When I bought into the idea that my particular
religious herd was fundamentally different from the rest of our
fellow humans, the result was that walls were erected between
me and anyone labeled as “other.” Not only did I have a judge
and jury in my mind ready to condemn myself, they were also
making judgments about all those around me. This mindset led
to suspicion and an inability to fully enjoy and connect with
others. I was too busy sizing them up to determine if they were
in or out. In time and as I entered into relationship with various
people, I began to see the walls that the herd had built around
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
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