‘Other’ – a Book for a Post 9/11 World
As we come round to 10 years since 9/11 I wanted to do a quick plug of Other, for the simple reason that it meets head on the challenges of living in a world where difference so desperately needs to be understood.
Whether it’s personal issues of depression or the alienating effects of technology, or local issues of teenage gangs or noisy neighbours, or racism, sexism, questions about multiculturalism – right the way through to political wars, religious fundamentalism and international terrorism – the problem of dealing with the ‘other’ that is right at the heart.
How can Republicans understand Democrats, Evangelicals understand Liberals, Christians understand Muslims, local people understand asylum seekers and immigrants? Technology has brought the whole world closer to us, but that has often only increased the stress and anxiety of having to deal with those who are very different to us. When asked to summarise the entire body of the Jewish Law, Jesus didn’t come out with a list of ‘thou shalt nots,’ but instead told us very simply to love. Love God, love our neighbours, just as we love ourselves.
We seem to be struggling with all three, and the tragedy of 9/11 brings all of those struggles into focus: a tragic misunderstanding of what God wants, a terrible hatred for those from a different culture, and a deep insecurity that must have led those young men to seek affirmation in such horrific ways.
How can we possibly respond, and love the other better? Well, drawing on everything from poets to pirates, that’s what the book is all about. As one reviewer put it on Amazon: ‘I’ve rarely read any “Christian” book that draws on such a wide body of knowledge. It’s the book’s freedom from the usual self-referential fare that so many “Christian” authors recycle that makes it so interesting, fresh and provocative.’
I really do believe in it as a piece of work, and some people I respect a great deal have said some really nice things about it:
This is a brilliant work. Half-mystic and half hard-core intellectual, Brewin here offers us an intimate, personable, completely accessible and, at times, hauntingly beautiful engagement with the hard questions of emergence theology. Phyllis Tickle
With his new book Other, English author Kester Brewin joins Peter Rollins from Ireland and David Dark from the US as leading public theologians for a new generation of thoughtful Christians. He moves gracefully from Scripture to philosophy to pop culture to sociology and back to Scripture again, offering fresh, honest, and needed insights at each turn. Brian D. McLaren
By turns startling, heart-warming and thousght-provoking. Maggi Dawn
A book for mystics and poets and troubadours of a new world. Brewin invites you to look into the eyes of others and squint a little — to see the image of God. He dares you to see the world with new eyes — to look into the mirror and see one who is beloved, to look into the eyes of the orphan and see Christ, to look into the eyes of those whom we find hard to like and catch a glimpse of the One we love. Shane Claiborne
In our socially networked and technologically advanced world we remain surrounded by mystery: the mystery of others, the divine mystery and mystery that we are unto ourselves. ‘Other’ masterfully explores how we might embrace this often complex reality and draws out how love of that which is other is central to the Christian experience. This is a work of rare beauty. Peter Rollins
Frank Schaeffer also just gave it a 5-star review on Amazon, and I know it’s being used in various seminaries as a key text on theology and contemporary culture. So yeah, do go buy it!