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The Original Sin of Humanity

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Othering is a word used in academic circles, but it may be unfamiliar otherwise. This work dives deep into othering — a refined way of describing prejudice, discrimination, and scapegoating. The book addresses what othering is, how it has been practiced in varied contexts, and how it prepares the way for violence.

Dimensional anthropology is introduced, which is the idea that there are three main dimensions of reality as it is inhabited by human beings: the vertical axis (the Great Chain of Being), the horizontal plane (society), and individual selfhood. Othering can be present within all three of these dimensions, with slavery being an example of vertical axis othering, ethnic violence being an example of horizontal othering, and lone wolf or psychotic shooters being an example of individual othering.

The most thought-provoking aspect of the book for many readers will be its application to the culture wars in our current individualistic age. Rights language is also addressed at length, since it can function as anti-othering rhetoric or as rhetoric that supports othering. Drawing on the work of Rene Girard, Owen Barfield, Ilia Delio and others, Othering shines fresh light on what the theological tradition has understood as original sin — and how we can participate in networks of hospitality and liberation. 

A groundbreaking and challenging read, Othering is not to be missed.

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Othering: The Original Sin of Humanity on Amazon
Charles K. Bellinger at Brite Divinity School

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Praise for Othering: The Original Sin of Humanity

“Charles Bellinger has provided a powerful analysis of the modes of dehumanization that have tragically marred our civilization. What is needed in our moment of political and ideological polarization is a recovery of the profound wisdom and insight of the doctrine of original sin.”
Justin Buckley Dyer, author of Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning

“Charles Bellinger has written a truly magisterial and engrossing tour de force on the central theme of our contemporary world, the radical discord of our age and its many manifestations—political, spiritual, and personal. ... The transcendent God is not merely among the genus of ‘beings,’ per se, but the Holy Other against whom to harbor a resentment or rivalry (our original sin) effectively derails our golden opportunity to take the ancient confession of the Shema—and the words of the Prophets and Christ himself—to grow into full human maturity, both individually and societally.”
Nicholas A. Marziani, retired Senior Priest, Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

About the Author

Charles K. Bellinger is Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the author of The Genealogy of Violence: Reflections on Creation, Freedom, and Evil and The Trinitarian Self: The Key to the Puzzle of Violence.

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