There’s still no Other

This week at Wednesday Night Live (my church’s weekly gathering for youth) we watched a video. Of course, in and of itself, that’s hardly newsworthy. We often use some kind of media to get a conversation going. But I don’t know that we’ve ever been able to use an award-winning short film before. Once I became aware of the film (thanks, Fred Clark!) I knew we had to show it to our students.

This piece of art is so good it was named “Best Short Film About/For Youth” at a film festival. It is so good it warrants reaching a larger audience. So I hope you’ll take five minutes – yes, it’s just five minutes long – and see what it provokes in you. However, an important TRIGGER WARNING: the film is a disturbing portrayal of bullying. It’s heartbreaking. But then that’s the point.

It seems to me that this film reminds us that there are many forces in our culture trying to separate us; trying to pit us against each other; trying to create an “Other” who can be shunned, beaten, sacrificed. To me this film is a reminder of both the power and the danger present in our desire to name some people as “Them” whom “We” rally against.

This bleak short film reminds me of Dr. King’s brilliant words on solidarity from his Letter from Birmingham Jail: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” I am convinced that in order for the church to be the church we must stand with those whom society would push out, marginalize, demean, demonize, scapegoat.

But the tragic, ugly truth is that far too often the church leads the charge to label some as Other and thus outside of God’s grace. As if it is up to us to decide. As if it is even possible to be outside of God’s grace. Yet often we can’t seem to keep ourselves from making such proclamations – and using scripture to justify those proclamations. Which is another reason my colleague, Deacon Beth Galbreath’s current series of posts is so important. She does an excellent job of breaking down the oft-called clobber verses used to Other the GLBTQ community. Be sure to read her posts too.

Jesus said (according to the gospel accounts) the life of faith is loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. The parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates just how crazy radical Jesus is: everybody is our neighbor. Even those we think of as enemy. And even those who think we are the enemy. We’re all neighbors. What affects one, affects all. There is no Them; there is only Us.

My hope and prayer is that we who long to follow God in the Way of Jesus will continue to strive to live this way, breaking down all the walls used to “Other” people. If we can, then perhaps someday films like this one will no longer need to be made. Wouldn’t that be glorious?

You’ve read my reaction to the film. What do you think?

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