The Crusader Online

September 05, 2008
Vol. 50 No. 1

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The Chaplain's Corner

Words that were read in many churches last Sunday speak powerfully to the Susquehanna community as we contemplate how best to respond to recent racial incidents on and around campus.

The apostle Paul exhorts his readers to "love one another with mutual affection" and follows that up with a reminder to "extend hospitality to strangers." That is, Philadelphia brotherly and sisterly love, is to be a hallmark of life within the community. But love does not stop there. Love has transformative power: the one who welcomes and the one who is welcomed are both changed as they enter into the mystery of friendship.

This is a critical insight as the Susquehanna community seeks to become more genuinely diverse. Diversity can never be a matter of welcoming "them" so that they can become more like "us," if by that we mean that you fit in here as long as you surrender or hide those things that make you different from the majority. Gay? Stay in the closet.

Conservative evangelical? Keep it to yourself. Black? What'd expect coming to rural Pennsylvania? These things are violations of the identity of those who bring difference and enriching diversity to campus.

Paul's exhortations to mutual love and hospitality, Philadelphia and philoxenos, take us in the different directions of welcoming and being welcomed, of valuing and being valued. Expressing moral indignation at the recent racist taunts is appropriate. What is needed in the long run is renewed and sustained commitment to make this a truly diverse, welcoming and inclusive community.

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