Historically, religion has focused on achieving, maintaining and enforcing group (or national) purity codes. This encourages allegiance to the group and conformity to prevailing group standards.
In An Introduction to the Old Testament (2003, p. 9), Walter Brueggemann wrote:
In the traditioning process of telling and retelling in order to make faith possible for the next generation, each version of retelling … intends … that its particular retelling should be the “final” one, but each of act of traditioning is eventually overcome and in fact displaced (“superseded”) by a fresher version.
The velocity of change makes enforcement of group standards increasingly difficult. But, long ago, the Jewish faith introduced an even greater complication with which it and other religions must deal: The continual expansion (or re-traditioning) of the meaning of “group.” We are all brothers and sisters.
We’re in a time of “us versus them” regression, but the world will eventually return to an ever-expanding awareness that we’re in this together, and ultimately there is no “them,” only “us.” This week’s theme is the challenge of inclusion in an era of renewed racism, tribalism and authoritarianism.