Dierdre Cornell – Jesus was a Migrant [Feature Review]

October 24, 2014


[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”1626980403″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51foavueUdL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”103″]Kindle[/easyazon_image]Page 2: Dierdre Cornell – Jesus was a Migrant

Surely we recognize that migrants are not to be demonized or de-humanized; but more importantly, they are not to be merely tolerated. They are not one-note caricatures used for political purposes, they are not the sum total of their migrant experiences. They are complex, full of blessing and despair, unwelcome foreigners, gracious hosts. Cornell asks us to think of them in a Biblical way: as people of faith and suffering, they bring a theological and spiritual richness to our country, our communities, and our faiths. They are blessings to us, if we only have eyes to see.


This is not a book for the politically charged in a particular direction. The cover, while confrontational, is not entirely a fair representation of what the author is bringing to us. When I finished the book, I was reminded of a different vision of Jesus. I was imagining him as characterized in Luke 15, sitting around with a bunch of supremely confident religious people, who grumbled to him that he so often hung out with the drunks and the wayward types, the drains of society. Why do you do that? They asked him, for they really did not have the ability to understand. When faced with the prejudice and lack of imagination that so often plagues the self-righteous, Jesus did what he often did: he told a few stories. Instead of deigning to answer the question (and somehow validate their own fears and unmovable hierarchies) he told stories. About a radical shepherd that leaves 99 contented and fat sheep in order to go search everywhere for the lost one. About a woman who tears her entire life upside-down to find a single coin. About two brothers who didn’t understand their father, and how in the end it was the screw-up who was able to experience grace.


I am still constantly asking the wrong questions of Jesus, questions that expose my own fear and selfishness and ignorance. And this is why I continue to need stories, why I needed to read Deirdre Cornell’s Jesus Was a Migrant. It is a reminder that our world is blessed by the people that the Empire forgets and disdains and shuns. It is a re-orientation towards a position of learning, of recognizing who Jesus always declared would be our teachers anyway.


And the more I hear stories, the more I am pierced. The more I am encouraged to make room for them in my heart.
D. L. Mayfield lives in the exotic Midwest with her husband and daughter. Recently they joined a Christian order among the poor, where they are currently seeking life in the upside kingdom. Mayfield has written for McSweeneys, Geez, the Curator, and Conspire! among others. You can find her on Twitter at @d_l_mayfield or on her blog http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com.