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EDITOR'S BOOKSHELF INTERVIEW

Biblical books like Ephesians and Luke give us examples of inclusion, but the language of inclusion is not itself scriptural language. Where does the language of inclusion come from? And how did it come to be dominant in mainline Protestant circles?

I really don't know, but I hear it all the time. I hear inclusion and inclusivity, and statements like, "We are an inclusive parish." When I looked up the word inclusion, I found that part of its root meaning has to do with commitment. And so if I am to be included in a family, a congregation, or a club, then there's some commitment on my part to what that group stands for. And then there's some commitment on their part to be with me.

I think that we are, as Christian congregations, called to be always welcoming the stranger. But inclusion is more serious than welcoming because it has to do with commitment. I get nervous when I hear people say, "Everybody is included here." I want to say, "Yes, but what do you stand for?"

You talk about how a commitment to the essentials is necessary before we can choose how to work things out. How do we decide what the essentials are?

First of all, it's a community exercise to determine the essentials. It's not something that Caroline and David figure out on their own.

Also, it must be done prayerfully.

And there are certain basic documents. For me, it's the baptismal covenant, those five promises we make. Does this respect the dignity of every human being? Does this proclaim by word or deed the good news of God in Christ? Does this work toward justice? Just keep asking all those questions. Does this do that? And so we must have community and prayer and prayer in community. And we must have some plumb lines against which ...

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Sloppy Inclusiveness
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December 2004

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