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Name Calling

How we label others and ourselves gives life and takes it away.

(Editor's note: What is a Christian response to the flap over radio personality Don Imus's description of the Rutgers women's basketball team? Is his firing a concession to pressure groups or an appropriate judgment? In this debate, is there something deeper to be said about language and the coarseness of public conversation? This column by Mark Labberton, appearing in the Spring issue of Leadership and arriving in mailboxes this week, was written before current controversy. In it Labberton speaks to the deeper issues of naming and labeling. He offers a biblical perspective on the words we apply to others and to ourselves.)

Every day our naming of the people around us gives life and takes it away.

Really? Really. I can still feel the impact of a highly musical friend who one day called me musical. No one had ever called me that. I didn't really play an instrument. I was no soloist.

Yet what made this comment so remarkable was that I instantly felt known and loved. Why? Because I was being ...

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