This post will wrap up my series on exile, using Walter Brueggemann’s book Cadences of Home as our frame of reference. Though each post functions on its own, be sure to check out PART ONE, PART TWO, and PART THREE.
In previous posts, we’ve established that life as a Christian believer in much of the Western World feels disconnected from feelings of home. While few are geographically in exile away from home, the emotional and spiritual sense of home is fleeting in society today for those who desire to follow Jesus. To be a Christian today feels counter-cultural and embraces that life will look different than the prevailing notion of how to live by those around them.
These realities cause a variety of responses, most notably a movement toward assimilation with the dominant trajectory of society, or despair over these new realities with little strength to endure through them. Though these are common responses, Brueggemann shares that in order to be part of the remnant of exiles who continues to seek a home of faith we must embrace living a dangerous life.
What Is a Dangerous Life in Exile?
1. Dangerous Memories
Exile causes us to either forget the past or embrace weak memories. We need the memories of faith lived before us to instruct us and empower us today.
When we forget the past we subsequently overvalue the present and lose a bigger perspective.
When we embrace weak memories we lose the opportunity for “sustained remembering, bearing daily and concrete testimony to the way in which God works life in the face of death, to the way in which God creates newness out of nothing, to the way in which hopeless faith discovers the power for life” (pg. 121).
2. Dangerous Criticism
“To be an exile and to resist assimilation and refuse despair, one must not grow too cozy with the host empire. It was a powerful temptation for exile Jews, whose story had run out, to live themselves into the story of Babylon and to reidentify themselves as citizens of Babylon.”
3. Dangerous Promises
In exile, who is able to have hope? “Only the baptized, only those who regularly enter a zone of alternative possibility that is not rooted in present technology, but in gifts yet to be given, in promises yet to become visible, in gifts and promises guaranteed by God” (pg. 126).
4. Dangerous Song
“There is even more to be said for unruly, unruled imagination that dares to sing what is prohibited and outrageous and subversive, for such singing enthrones and dethrones, and the restless exiles sing until homecoming” (pg. 129).
5. Dangerous Bread
“There will not be genuine freedom until, having new bread, we refuse the offer of Pharaoh’s tasty bread” (pg. 131).
The embrace of this kind of dangerous life does not mean God will move at our beck and call, but we will be ready for this new move of God as it comes.