When we think about religion, whether Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism etc…, we’re immediately confronted with the “other.” It’s built into our framework and language (e.g., I’m Hindu, I’m a Jew, I’m Muslim, I’m a Christian). It’s also built into our cultures and social and political structures. In a very real sense we identify ourselves in contrast to the “other.” There’s a big problem with this.
When we live out a worldview of “otherness,” it creates “hostility instead of hospitality,” to borrow from Brian McLaren. Instead of loving each other, instead of compassion, instead of acts of kindness, we tend to tear the other down as less than, not worthy, not good enough, not “us.”
Speaking from a Christian background, the doctrines of the faith have historically been used as divisive weapons, separating true believers from unbelievers – orthodox from unorthodox. Today all one has to do is scan the news to see the hatred spewing from the mouths of those that profess Jesus Christ as King.
And yet, in discussing “otherness,” one has to walk an extremely fine line. To point the finger at those that foster otherness simply creates another group to dislike, hate, kill. An example is needed – someone who truly pulls down the barriers of otherness. I stumbled across a short video below. It’s a Hindu – a Brahmin – who is not supposed to touch the unclean. Check out what he’s doing.
The video reminded me of Jesus. For Jesus there were no sides – no otherness. He repeatedly embraced what society deemed as unclean, unworthy, other. He even spent time with those that hated and mocked him trying to get them to understand. Jesus loved them. Among other things, Jesus is the master teacher of hospitality. For Jesus, the King, there is only one side – His. The more one learns about his life, the more they’ll see.
Enjoy the video and let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson