Tuesday, February 2, 2016


To say that I'm not a SJW or a major proponent of PC is an understatement. However, I think there is something to be said for the concept of "othering:" making it clear that a person or group is not "one of us." Tonight I was treated to a prime example of it during a discussion with our pastor regarding all the clearances and steps required to volunteer. After being treated as guilty until proven innocent (if then) by our Safe Environment Coordinator, I contacted our pastor, expressing concern with how volunteers are being treated. If our goal is to encourage people to volunteer and be active, then, while we do need them to follow the required procedures, we also need to make sure to treat them with consideration and respect and not leave them thinking "Screw it! I have better things I could do with my time." When I expressed that concern, Father commented that most volunteers have been through it before, volunteering at their kid's school or coaching or whatnot. So... the only people who volunteer are those with kids? Or do you just not notice those without? 

It also happens when we talk about parish events. Though we say that a new family is created when a couple marries, what are "family" events? If your parish is anything like mine, "family" events center around activities for the children, with food and fellowship for the parents. Why would we go to Breakfast in Bethlehem? Is there truly anything for us at the Halloween Howl? No, I guess I'm not "like you." 

I am not the same; I am different. And it's not that different isn't okay, but do we make room for the other or do we try to shunt them off into tiny little silos? Yes, it's great that there is a Widows & Widowers group, but do we make room for them at other events? Do we encourage them and young families to mix and encourage and help one another? Or are they just stuck in their own little group, clearly "other," not "one of of us?" It's fantastic if your parish or diocese has an Elizabeth Ministry or Apostolate of Hannah's Tears, but do those couples without children feel welcome anywhere else? If they are only comfortable there, maybe at Mass, and the parish picnic, then we are failing. 

As Christians, there can be no "other." Galatians 3:28 makes that clear: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (NIV) While we won't necessarily have that much in common with every single person, we must keep in mind that they are all like us, all sinners, all children of God.


  1. I have to say, as a single, I don't even feel comfortable at the parish picnic. I agree that we need to be able to make our welcome a little more widespread- and I admit to having as much need as anyone else to do a better job!