Difference can enrich us or tear us apart. Difference can make our lives stronger, fuller, and richer or it can destroy them. Therefore, how we engage difference matters. Conflicts between different peoples around the world, the movement of refugees from nation to nation, tensions over immigration, and growing diversity within our society bring difference to our doorstep daily. We can engage people who are different constructively and compassionately, or we can allow the fear of difference to distance us from others and to demonize them. At a time when racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious differences have created heightened tensions, we need more than ever to find our bearings. We need to re-examine what we think about difference.
Author Theodore "Ted" Hiebert re-examines the Bibles stories explaining difference and its beginnings in the book of Genesis, exposing the inclination to interpret these stories as a negative view of difference. These stories recognize difference as Gods intention for the world, providing us with constructive resources of living with difference today. Hiebert starts with the story of "The Tower of Babel" and moves beyond it to examine how Genesiss writers saw their unique identity and role in the world not as separate from all others but as members of the human family of which they were a part. He presents how biblical characters lived with difference and how the first Christians embraced difference. Finally, he invites the reader into new conversations about our biblical traditions that reveal a respect for difference, a generosity toward others, a desire to include rather than exclude, and a continuing interest in negotiating difference in ways that build relationships rather than destroy them.