Us against them - exclusion and embrace


I'm still digesting M.Volf's 'exclusion and embrace'. In chapter III he talks about 'exclusion polarity', how we form around the 'us and them' whether on battlefields, or living rooms, and I guess we could include blogs.

He goes on to say, 'the stronger the conflict, the more the rich texture of the social world disappears and the exclusionary polarity emerges around which all thought and practice aligns itself'.

In other words, there is a tendency in issues of conflict and dispute to exit the complexities of the world that enable us to talk, and instead chose sides, and use language and behavior that are fueled by hatred of others.

We see this, be it cartoons about Islam, or blog posts about homosexuality. I'm sure christians are called to offer something different to the world, and engagement over conflict in ways that draw people to Christ, rather than offer religious polarity.

When I started High School, there were posters on the school walls of various animals, mostly cats and dogs with cute cliches about life and living, designed to have an impact on us. We thought they we so uncool. Yet 26 years later, one of the posters comes to mind now. It was a monkey with his/her fingers in their ears. The tag line said, 'I can't hear what you are saying because of who you are speaks much louder'.

I wonder, if in all the ongoing critiques of emergent, emerging church, of the modern church, so many of the posting, and writings, are so hard for people to hear because of the character revealed of people in their writing.

Volf suggests that for christians there is an alternative to this polarizing interaction over conflict, to the language and behavior of that modern and emerging church are equally guilty of and I'm sure at times I have been.

So why would we aspire to ask questions, to talk to one another in love, to avoid name calling, to avoid polarizing into 'us and them'. Because as Volf put's it 'God's reception of hostile humanity into divine communion is a model for how human beings should relate to the other'.