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The Othering

by Chris Corlett

Each January, the unwritten stories of the upcoming year offer promise of a fresh start and an expectation that accompanies the new and uncertain. As a public high school mathematics teacher and tennis coach for over twenty years, each new class or team had this same vibe – every student started with a perfect grade book, and every team could enjoy an undefeated season.1

January also brings three stark reminders of the horrors and atrocities brought about by the othering” of a group of persons. Othering – “the process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as essentially alien or different”2 – is the foundation of discrimination and apartheid. The distancing from, and the diminishing of, groups of people provides a rationale and even recommends their unjust treatment.

The Bible demands a completely different approach. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”3 Jesus taught, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Rather than divide His one creation into countless groups of two, He “create(d) in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”4 Apart from God, man has created Jew versus Gentile; Left versus Right; Rural versus Urban; Male versus Female. Caucasian versus BIPOC5; Vaccinated versus Unvaccinated; White-collar versus Blue collar; Rich versus Poor; Neighbor versus Stranger; US VERSUS THEM. Jesus came to make the two into one, not the one into two!

I wonder what came to your mind, O Gracious Reader, when I suggested three stark examples of the divisive “Othering” commemorated each January. The following events should serve as reminders and warnings of what has happened throughout recent history.6

These issues go beyond the scope of this article. Sufficient for the author’s thesis is the following:

The strategies and sentiments above are alive and well today, with the object of the othering being the unvaccinated and those opposed to a vaccination mandate. Howard Stern said earlier this year, “And I’m really of mind to say, ‘Look, if you didn’t get vaccinated and you got Covid, you don’t get into a hospital.’”13 “Fox News examined Merriam-Webster’s current definition of ‘anti-vaxxer’ compared to its definition from 2018, and found it omitted the word ‘laws’ in favor of ‘regulations.’”14 Redefinition, propaganda, misinformation, thought control, public shaming, peer pressure, accusation, and so many more are captured under the broad umbrella named othering.

We have one Creator – “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”15 We have one Condition – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”16 We have one Confession – “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”17 We have one Commission – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”18 We are one Church – “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”19

Creator. Condition. Confession. Commission. Church. What God has joined together let no man or board or policy or ruling tear asunder.

The author invites comments sent to chrisc@khouse.org.

This article was originally published in the
January 2022 Personal Update NewsJournal.

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1 The only team I coached to a perfect season is the 2003 Varsity Boys Tennis team.

2 Othering – Wiktionary

3 Micah 6:8 NKJV, emphasis added.

4 Ephesians 2:15b NKJV

5 Black, Indigenous, People of Color

6 “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke

7 Dr. King’s actual birth date is January 15, 1929

8 Three-fifths Compromise – Wikipedia

9 Der ewige Jude | Holocaust Encyclopedia (ushmm.org)

10 “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

11 To the Pharisees, Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” – John 8:44

12 Planned Parenthood – Wikipedia

13 Howard Stern to anti-vaxxers: “You had the cure and you wouldn’t take it” - CNN

14 Merriam-Webster’s ‘anti-vaxxer’ definition update sparks allegations of an attempt to ‘redefine’ meaning | Fox News

15 Genesis 1:26 NKJV

16 Romans 3:23 NKJV

17 Romans 10:9 NKJV

18 Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV

19 Ephesians 5:27 NKJV