The theme of my soon-to-be-released novel, OUR DAILY BREAD is that when we view someone as “The Other” the result is inevitably–to greater or lesser degree–negative. I am certainly not the only person who believes this. For example, my friend Chris Hedges, in his book, WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING, speaks most eloquently on the matter. Robert Benchley’s “Law of Distinction” states “There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.
And today, on the Huffington Post, Bishop Desmond Tutu (one of my moral heros), has an excerpt from his forthcoming book entitled “God is not a Christian, and other provocations,” which is sure to get some folks riled up. I quote from it here:
My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don’t know what significant fact can be drawn from this — perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our particular faith. You could so easily have been an adherent of the faith that you are now denigrating, but for the fact that you were born here rather than there.
I wonder how people will respond to a Christian bishop stating such inclusive views? I suspect some of them — such as the owners of the printing house in Michigan who refused to print the advance review copies of my book saying they found it offensive (okay, the novel does criticise a certain sort of intolerant, self-righteous religious community) — will disagree, saying “Those people are simply not like us. We are special. We are saved and They are not.”
How frightening it must be to live with so small a God, to live in a cosmos of such limited scope. I prefer to rejoice in the belief that The Ineffable (as I choose to call God) is so powerful, so creative, so loving that S/He appears in a multitude of forms, images, symbols, in every tree and rock, in the wind, the sea, the otter, the eagle . . . and the face of every person I meet. Wherever I am, S/He is standing there ready to meet me, in whatever form I can best recognize, and which will, through love, resonate most deeply with me.