Exiles and Aliens
Imagine yourself sitting at lunch. Who is at your table? In what ways are all of you alike and different? Traveling to a bay island off the coast of Honduras, known as Utila, opened our eyes in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined. We felt like outsiders and experienced a bit of culture shock. There was a language barrier, a diet we weren’t used to, a difference in amenities (such as flushing toilet paper), and a difference in appearance that caused people we didn’t know to judge us. So, why is this relevant? What impact does this have on our lives?
In our three weeks on the island, we were asked to keep a record of dislocated exegesis moments in a journal. We went to unexpected places on the island, opened up our Bibles, and observed how our environment changed the way we read it. We also unpacked a few of the gospels and Justo Gonzalez’s Santa Biblia in a way that exposed faults within American Christianity. This experience showed us how to read the Bible from a different perspective and how to observe the world from the outside looking in.
In Gonzalez’s chapter titled Exiles and Aliens, he discussed the meaning of being a foreigner. In exile, you leave what has been the center of your life and move it to the periphery. We experienced things that aliens and exiles experience daily. A main point in this chapter was that foreigners are a gift to society. An example he used is the story of Joseph and Potiphar. Joseph was sold as a slave into a strange land, with strange people, and was forced to make the best of it. He didn’t know why he was there but God used him to save Egypt and the Israelites.
Gonzalez encourages people of the dominant culture to read the story of Joseph from the perspective of the Egyptians:
The text no longer speaks so much about how good Christians ought to try to influence the powerful but rather about how the powerful, particularly if they seek to do the will of God, must seek the alien, discover their gifts, and seek whatever wisdom and guidance those gifts might offer.”
Applying this information to our lives sheds new light on President Trump wanting to close the borders. American Christians should see immigrants as a gift to culture rather than the people who are taking jobs away from Americans.
We want to encourage you, as students of Greenville College, to put yourselves in unexpected places. Make the most of the uncomfortable moments and listen. You never know what wonderful surprises might be in store.