Page 3 – Ched Myers and M. Colwell – Our God is Undocumented
Myers and Colwell’s argument is to believers, on behalf of the victims of imperial power. It is clear that they hold out more hope for help from the outcast church, the hands and feet of Christ, than from the state. However they do not ignore the role of citizenship, and they do not dismiss the concerns of patriots. In fact, the word citizenship and its use in the bible are important to Myers and receive treatment. A lengthy selection seems intended to address the common protest, sensible on its face, that ‘we don’t mind legal immigration. It’s the illegal part, not the immigrant part that is the problem.’ Myers asserts that almost no one wants to leave her home country. They are “pushed and pulled” by past and present global and economic forces. They are moved by impoverishment whose structural causes “lie on our side of the border.” These migrations are forced, he claims, and often by us. He offers a historical narrative to support this.
He and Colwell also express “a pastoral concern about our fractured identity as predominately a nation of immigrants.” Citing Exodus 22:21, Myers points out that it was “Israel’s own bitter experience of displacement that undergirded its ethic of just compassion toward outsiders.” He draws a contrast between the historical narrative mentioned above and the dream expressed in The New Colossus, emblazoned below the statue of liberty, and indeed much of America’s early press about itself. But the thrust of the book is that our obligation is to God’s dream. Some believers will find themselves insistent on maintaining “the dividing wall of hostility.” The authors state at the outset that neither they nor this volume are neutral, and their bias is clear: If we ultimately find that the call of Christ, the dream of God and the witness of scripture are simply unrealistic, we should know that about ourselves. But if we can be sure in faith of a lamp and a promise even greater than that of Lady Liberty, then we, the church, should hold it aloft and open our doors.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com