Resident Aliens

Hauerwas and Willimon’s “Resident Aliens” (1989)

This book’s cover’s quaint font betrays its late 1980s publication date. The main idea still pertains, however, and now even moreso: we Americans don’t live in a Christian culture today, if ever we did. I don’t mean this, as some do, in a narrow, nostalgic-for-lost-morality way: restoring purity to naughty words in song lyrics would not restore Christian culture. The idea is more radical: there is no such thing as a national culture that is Christian. To be a follower of Jesus is to be– more or less, but never not– counter-cultural. It is, in a way and always, to be a foreigner, an alien, in this land. Home is not here.

Many of us live in a material luxury and physical comfort unprecedented in the history of the world. Seemingly removed from the struggle of keeping body and soul together (no one who reads this blog is concerned about a failed harvest leading to famine), the soothing strum of American consumerism in which we participate (with varying degrees of investment) lulls us into a sleepy, false sense of security: we’re safe here; this is home.

To be a follower of Jesus is to snap out of that narcotic snooze, and recognize that lie. Our only security is with Him; our true home is with the Transcendent One. From that awareness will come a re-awakened church, re-committed to proclaiming the gospel and re-dedicated to exposing the false twin-gods of our culture: invulnerability and control. Such a re-awakened church will embody and practice a trust in the Holy One– the Holy One who always defeats the false gods who spawn neurotic anxiety, ruptured relationships, fear-based violence, and exploitative economic and political arrangements. Home is not here. Home is where reconciliation is complete, and the lion lies down with the lamb.

In the meantime, we walk in this foreign land, and point toward home.

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One thought on “Resident Aliens

  1. Courageous and provocative theme this week, Chris. Thank you. As always, I enjoy your thoughtful perspective and book recommendations.

    You may wish to read “Clash!” by Alana Conner, Ph.D. if you haven’t already.

    Warm regards, HD

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