Notes on Exclusion and Embrace- Chap. 2

Chapter II Exclusion

The Dubious Triumph of Inclusion

The Western story of progress/civilization is told as one of continual inclusion. “The history of modern democracies is about progressive and ever expanding inclusion, about “taking in rather than… keeping out”. By contrast, stories of ethnic cleansing are about the most brutal forms of exclusion, about driving out rather than taking in. Hence they strike us as “nonmodern,” “nonEuropean,” “nonWestern.” (p.59) Yet the nonWestern world points out that the inclusion of the west was always predicated on a previous exclusion, destruction, or colonization of the other. The real question is whether we are really as “civilized” or “rational” as we think. Is not inclusion really just a way of normalizing all that we wish to exclude? (p.60) Exclusion is not the absence of Inclusion, but the result of Inclusion.

The postmodern move, after critiquing this modern tendency to exclude, is toward a distinctionless world, a world without boundaries or divides. Yet this desire towards radical inclusion through indeterminacy destroys the possibility of a true, or just, inclusion (63). To move forward we must “satisfy two conditions: (1) it must help to name exclusion as evil with confidence…(2) it must not dull our ability to detect the exclusionary tendencies in our own judgments and practices (64).

Definitions: differentiation– “consists in “separating-and-binding” (as in creation).” which results in interdependence. “by itself, separation would result in self-enclosed, isolated, and self-identical being.” (p. 65) Human identity is not simply self-differentiation from the other, but is intimately connected to the life of another (p.66) Exclusion– “the sinful activity of reconfiguring the creation” (66). It is the “cutting of bonds,” “taking oneself out of the pattern of interdependence and placing oneself in a position of sovereign independence.” It is the “Erasure of separation”. All exclusionary practices are a result of an already excluded self. (67) Judgment– is not necessarily an act of exclusion, but is the first act of inclusion. Judgment that names exclusion as evil and differentiation as good, is the ground for inclusion.(p. 68)

The Self and Its Center

What type of person is able to stand against exclusion without continuing the exclusion through a struggle against it? Only the person whose center is Christ. The person who is centered in Christ is not lost in Christ, but given a new center, the de0centered center (p. 71) “The center of the self–a center that is both inside and outside– it the story of Jesus Christ, which has become the story of the self. More precisely, the center is Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected who has become part and parcel of the very structure of the self (70). See page 69 for a profound description of the complexities of the inner life of the self.

The Anatomy and Dynamics of Exclusion

Jesus’ battle against the sin of exclusion is based in re-naming and re-making. “The Mission of Jesus consisted not simply in re-naming the behavior that was falsely labeled “sinful” but also in re-making the people who have actually sinned or have suffered misfortune (73). This two fold strategy is used against the sin of “the pursuit of false purity… the enforced purity of a person or a community that sets itself apart from the defiled world in a hypocritical sinlessness and excludes the boundary breaking other from it heart and its world” (74). This is the sin that locates sin as other, outside of ourselves.

Exclusion is manifested in many actions. Exclusion by elimination is to throw out. Exclusion by assimilation is to swallow up. Exclusion by domination is to press down. Exclusion by abandonment is to walk by. Exclusion is first done symbolically as a distortion of the other, not mere ignorance, which refused to know the other. This leads the way to physical/practical exclusion (p. 76).

Contrived Innocence

“From a distance, the world may appear neatly divided into guilty perpetrators and innocent victims. The closer we get, however, the more the line between the guilty and the innocent blurs and we see an intractable maze of small and large hatreds, dishonesties, manipulations, and brutalities, each reinforcing the other” (p. 81). All have sinned, perpetrators and victims. But this does not entail equality of sin, nor the loss of justice here, while we wait from judgment day.

The Power of Exclusion

Where does the will to exclude come from? It comes from the desire for identity (p. 90). The separation necessary to constitute and maintain a dynamic identity of the self in relation to the other slides into exclusion that seeks to affirm identity at the expense of the other” (91-92). Going back to the understanding of differentiation, the self separates itself, destroys the proper bind-to another, primarily God, in the search for a ground of identity which is not tied up with another. This is the original self-exclusion which leads to other-exclusion.