Friday, November 25, 2022

Beyond Welcome by Karen Gonzalez, A Review

“Centering immigrants in our Christian response to immigration means that we make room for their integration but do not pressure them to assimilate. We recognize that people are allowed to bring their full selves into every space even as they are adapting to a new country. The act of speaking another language, eating the food of one’s homeland, and listening to music from our cultures is not a threat to the host country’s way of life.”

This is a major theme of Karen Gonzalez’s new book, Beyond Welcome: Centering Immigrants in Our Christian Response to Immigration.

Gonzalez uses the example of Rahab, from the Old Testament – a sex worker whose life “challenges everything the Israelites believed about goodness, worthiness and inclusion.” Despite this reality, Gonzalez points out that: “[U]nlike many of us, she does not seem to question whether she is worthy of inclusion. She seems to know deep in her soul that her status as a human being is enough to make her deserving of belonging.”

Gonzalez challenges the dominant (white) culture’s view. “I do not know any good immigrants. Good immigrants, according to American mythology, work hard and keep their heads down, never dreaming of accessing public benefits. They are eternally grateful for admission to this great country and never critique it. They speak English fluently without an accent, and fully assimilate into American culture…”

And as they perform jobs nobody else wants, “they are invisible but essential.”

In describing pitting immigrants with DACA status vs. other immigrants, including those with disabilities, Gonzalez asks: “…[I]s it biblical or even practical to think of people as good or bad immigrants?”

As Gonzalez continues to challenge the dominant culture’s view of immigrants, she brings up an interesting point. Many (white) evangelicals and fundamentalists use the bible to quote scripture to defend their views, claiming that the bible is the word of God. Says Gonzalez, “Many of us were taught that the Bible itself is the Word of God, but John’s Gospel opens with a clarion declaration: Jesus is the Word of God.”

So, it would seem, especially to a Christian, how Jesus treated others would be much more relevant than a scripture quote.

Gonzalez is very good at describing the linguistic tightrope the U.S. uses to define its immigration policy.

“Refugees flee a place because their lives are at risk… Refugees are literally running from persecution, violence, or the threat of death. It matters very much whether we call people ‘immigrants’ or ‘refugees,’ whether we think they are coming because they might have a better life here in North America or because it is the only way they will have any life at all…

"[W]hen you tell refugees to go away they suffer, and they die.

"We don’t like to think about that, so we change our language, calling these same people ‘immigrants’ or worse yet, ‘illegals’ – nameless, faceless immigrants without the legal right to be in the United States. Never mind that ‘illegal’ is an adjective and not a noun – it allows us to reduce a human being to their legal status, thereby absolving ourselves of all responsibility for our neighbors in need.”

The issue of who is more sovereign, God or the Bible, is actually a reflection of a bigger question. Gonzalez writes: “For many Christians, the challenging part of becoming recovering ethnocentric people is that most of us do not realize that our expression of faith also carries a culture… When we do not pay attention to how God has been present in another culture and how the Spirit is revealing God’s very self in local cultural expressions, we will then impose our own Christian culture on others.”

Karen Gonzalez
The issue of ethnocentricity extends itself into the practice of Christian hospitality.

Gonzalez offers a different type, called reciprocal hospitality. “What I am referring to,” she writes, “is the kind of hospitality that is truly engaged, where nonimmigrant Christians listen and learn at the feet of immigrants they have welcomed to their countries… the kind where their [immigrants’] dignity and choices are respected and decision are not made on their behalf.

“When hospitality is not reciprocal, those belonging to the dominant culture unconsciously begin to think of immigrants as having less in every way."

Gonzalez quotes Dr. Christine D. Pohl who describes the danger of ethnocentrically driven hospitality. “There is a kind of hospitality that keeps people needy strangers, while fostering an illusion of relationship and connection. It both disempowers and domesticates guests while it reinforces the hosts’ power, control and sense of generosity. It is profoundly destructive to the people it welcomes.”

Hospitality founded on the expectation of assimilation or payback isn’t the hospitality that Jesus practiced.

“In Jesus’ understanding, Christian hospitality should extend to those who could not benefit you in any way – those who were poor and others on the margins…”

Gonzalez goes on to reflect on the original meaning of “Mi casa es su casa.”

“It is an expression that is well known in English – almost like a hospitality cliché. But like many expressions that have become cliches, we do not think about what they are expressing or the deep truths found within them: what is mine is also yours. Make yourself at home because you are in your own home. There is no mine and no yours, only ours.

“How does that phrase reimagine the way we think about hospitality to strangers and immigrants? How does it move us beyond the host and guest dichotomy and into reciprocal hospitality?”

Taken further, this idea opens us up to wonder: who owns the land in the first place?

At this point, Gonzalez turns to the example of Native Peoples’ culture.

In this worldview, “The land cares for humans, and the humans care for the land. People and land are different but equally valuable in this worldview because they need one another.

“Furthermore, the land does not belong to human beings – it belongs to God, the Creator.”

Unfortunately, the history of the earth seems to be one in which many dominant cultures treat the earth as something to be exploited for commercial gain, with no thought of relationship; without thought to consequences.

And under this mindset, the earth is artificially sectioned off into countries and borders between them.

Which leads Gonzalez to pose the question: “Perhaps rather than condemn immigrants who enter the country unlawfully, we should applaud them for subverting an unjust system, for obeying God’s laws above human-made ones.”

Rather than throw up her arms in dismay, Gonzalez offers hope. “Change can and does happen, but it requires us to take the first step of reimagining the world and changing the narrative… [W]hy is it radical to believe in open borders? Why is it radical to proclaim that the earth is the Lord’s?”

For anyone interested in pursuing a thoughtful discovery of immigration from a theological point of view, Beyond Welcome: Centering Immigrants in Our Christian Response to Immigration by Karen Gonzalez is a must-read.

Beyond Welcome: Centering Immigrants in our Christian Response to Immigration
By Karen Gonzalez
Brazos Press
2022


Saturday, November 19, 2022

My Last Tweet?

According to several news sources, we may be headed toward the end of Twitter.

Of course, Twitter is prone to hyperbole, but just in case...

Dear Friends,

It's been fun being with you since 2015.

I'm actually grateful for the (small) audience it's given for the blog I have (https://lifesomethings.blogspot.com/). 

The blog was set up to help me think through thoughts on faith, God and social justice. It also has included many interviews and book reviews along the way.

So, the primary emotion I have, if the end of Twitter comes to pass, is - believe it or not - gratitude.

I wasn't looking for a full-throttle way to express personal opinions when I joined Twitter. The book reviews I've done are more like a book report, getting at the essence of the book, rather than my opinion of it.

From the start, it was all about sharing and growing.

When I did offer an opinion - it was always contexted in fact - and usually only when it felt necessary.

I'm a writer at heart. Have been since I was six years old and wrote a morning edition newspaper for my Dad, which I delivered every Saturday - the one day of the week he and Mom could sleep in. (Thank you, Dad, for always encouraging me!)

Writing is the best way I know to make sense of complex subjects. I read to learn and understand, but I write to help personally apply it.

Back in 2015, a local library offered a venue for local writers to sell their books. I went and sold nothing. But I did meet a writer who told me about Twitter. She encouraged me to join because it would be a way to gain a community. She was right.

There's been a lot of negative tweets on Twitter, and in that way, it can be polarizing. But I tended to ignore the rants and hone in on the folks who had deeper, clearly thought-out things to say. 

Photo Credit: caveman, wallpapercave.com
Thank you to everyone who sent out tweets that made me think and learn and broaden my perspective. Thank you to the authors who I met on Twitter and your books and for taking the time to be interviewed.

Thank you to faithful followers who have read the blog posts via Twitter. I very much appreciate your interest.

It's been fun!
-----

I also wanted to mention that I've written two books - collections of short stories.

One is  20 Short Ones: 20 Tales of Hope

It's very autobiographical, with stories taking place in New York City, Michigan, Colorado and Northern Ireland. 

The second book, just released, is Metropolis: Tales from a Small Town. (Yes, there really is a Metropolis, in southern Illinois. (A few of my stories mention the statue of Superman found in the town square. The town is the official "home" of Superman, but none of the stories are about him).

Both books are works of faith-based fiction. Both have themes of hope. 

And it is on that note of hope that I end this post.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

A Holistic Guide to Voting

photo credit: Pexels
If you are eligible to vote and haven't already done so, you've got two days to decide to cast your ballot.

At this point, you've most likely seen many of the typical, adversarial, fear-based ads, coming from both sides of the political spectrum.

What I'm offering is another view, outside of that red-hot political firestorm.

Here, for what they may be worth, are a few thoughts about voting.

Voting Out of Fear

Fear is probably the most expensive emotion we can experience.

It doesn't normally result in positive behavior, but in behavior that is, at best, reactive and backward thinking. That isn't geared towards positive, forward-thinking solutions. 

Voting Out of Nostalgia For the Past

The past is the past.

Sometimes, fear is coupled with nostalgia in an effort to avoid imminent change.

For instance, it won't be long before, demographically, white folks will be the minority in the U.S. 

It's a simple, statistical fact.

But emotionally, it points to a big change, and in general, we humans tend to choose to stay rooted in the past.

Combining fear with nostalgia is a mortar that can cause distraught and inaccurate thinking, i.e. conspiracy theories. [Think of refusing to recognize the results of the 2020 election.]

Speaking of which, there is a case to be made for doing away with the electoral college.

In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore won 48.4 of the popular vote, compared to 47.9 percent for George W. Bush. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won 48.2 percent of the popular vote, compared to Donald Trump's 46.1 percent. In the 2020 election, Joe Biden won 51.3 percent of the popular vote, compared to 46.8 percent for Trump.

Despite the obvious flaw of the electoral college, there is still a valid point to be made for voting.

The U.S. is a democratic republic and voting is an important part of ensuring that the will of the public is maintained.

To abolish or alter the electoral college, the will of the people needs to be respected. That simply can't happen if people refuse to vote.

The Percent of Eligible Voter Turnout

It's no secret that a large chunk of the eligible voting population in the U.S. doesn't vote.

Take a look at the most recent presidential elections:

ElectionVoting-age population (VAP)Turnout as % of VAP
2008229,945,00057.1%
2012235,248,00053.8%
2016249,422,00054.8%
2020257,605,08862.0%

source: Wikipedia

This is sobering information. And points to a variety of challenges. 

But the bottom line is, although the rate of turnout in 2020 was significantly higher, the percentage of eligible voters who actually vote needs to be increased if the U.S. wants to continue any tradition of democracy.

Legislation that inhibits voting is also a challenge. But it can't be blocked unless eligible voters get out and vote, despite those challenges. In many statewide elections this year there are candidates running who simply deny the results of the 2020 election. And many of them will not say if they will accept the results of the 2022 mid-terms.

A democracy can't survive if election results are denied. No matter who wins, we need to respect the results. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur: A Review

“America does not know how to grieve black lives, because doing so would mean accepting that there was never complete abolition: Slavery transmuted into segregation, which morphed into discriminatory laws, and now into policies that appear neutral on their face but still disparately violate people of color.

… A nation that cannot see its own past cannot see the suffering it has caused, suffering that persists into the present. A nation that cannot see our suffering cannot grieve with us. A nation that cannot grieve with us cannot know us, and therefore cannot love us.”

This seems to be the core of what Valarie Kaur asserts in her book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.

Specifically, Kaur, a Sikh, is talking about the effects of this deliberate blindness towards her own community. Especially as she relates her experience after 9/11.

“I thought back to how it started,” she writes. “Before Americans even had time to process our shock and count our dead after 9/11, our energies had been redirected for war… Grieving is a process that takes time and stillness and presence. It is impossible to grieve and prepare to kill at the same time. So, despite all the performances of national mourning, we as a nation had little time and space to be present to our pain and all that it had to teach us.”

Kaur concludes, “Unresolved grief inside a person is tragic; unresolved grief inside a nation is catastrophic: It releases enormous aggression.” Along with a surge of hate crimes that has not abated since 9/11.

Kaur points out the cost by mentioning that the “war on terror,” in Afghanistan spanned more than two decades resulting in the killing of more than one million people, with a price tag of over $5.6 trillion.

For Kaur and other people of color, it’s an old pattern. “State violence has been tethered to hate violence throughout U.S. history for indigenous people, black people, queer people, and immigrant groups in every generation.”

Going beyond pointing out this unfortunate history, Kaur seeks to find causal factors. “When we cannot see that evil is driven by a person’s wounds, not their innate nature, we become terrified of each other. But the moment we see their wounds, they no longer have absolute power over us.”

She states that both love and rage are primal forces. When we bottle up rage, it eventually explodes (i.e. in the form of hate crimes and discriminatory policies). Particularly among people of color suppression of rage has been linked to survival. But Kaur tells us that rage needs to be processed. “Safe containers [to process rage] take many forms: shaking, weeping, venting, writing, art, music, dance, drama, meditation, trauma therapies, rituals and ceremonies of all kinds. Only when we give rage an external expression outside our bodies can we be in relationship with it. Then we can ask: What information does my rage carry? What is it telling me? How do I harness this energy?”

Kaur takes a quote from Toni Morrison to help us learn how to handle our hate. “Hate does that,” writes Morrison. “Burns off everything but itself, so whatever your grievance is, your face looks just like your enemy’s.” Kaur adds: “I refuse to let anyone belittle my soul, or diminish my own expansive sense of self. The more I listen, the less I hate. The less I hate, the more I am free to choose actions that are controlled not by animosity but by wisdom.”

Valarie Kaur Photo Credit: valariekaur.com
She continues, “Laboring to love my opponents is how I love myself. This is not the stuff of saintliness. This is our birthright.”

Kaur calls listening a “strategic choice: The more I listen, the more I understand… Listening enables us to fight in smarter ways for justice – not only to remove bad actors from power but to change the cultures that radicalize them. Listening is how we succeed.”

Another ingredient to promote justice is to reimagine an alternative to what currently exists. Kaur uses the rate of incarceration in the United States as an example.

The U.S. prison population in 2022 is around 2.1 million. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, it’s at a cost of $81 billion a year. According to Kaur, one-third of all black men in their 20’s are incarcerated or on parole. Any way you look at it, the costs are enormous.

It takes an effort to reimagine a better response.

Kaur relates the experience of the Sikh Coalition, formed in response to the Oak Creek massacre [of 2012 when six people were killed and four others wounded while attending services at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.]  

“In 2015, for the first time,” records Kaur, “the U.S. government began tracking hate crimes against Sikh Americans, along with Arabs, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Christians.”

A Serve 2 Unite group was also formed to promote love and compassion in the face of hate.

“Hate paralyzes our bodies and silences our voices,” says Kaur. “Hate strips us of language and denies us recognition… Our turbans mark us as terrorists, not seekers of truth and justice. America forgets us, or never knew us to begin with. Yet we go on living; we refuse to die… That is our defiance – to practice love even in hopelessness. And to show you. So that you might take our hand, and love us, too.”

For Kaur, it’s necessary to love ourselves, and transition into loving in community. This is the mortar that knits social justice work together.

At this point, in See No Stranger, Kaur quotes James Baldwin: “I think the inability to love is the central problem, because that inability masks a certain terror, and that terror is the terror of being touched. And if you can’t be touched, you can’t be changed. And if you can’t be changed, you can’t be alive.”

This sort of love is grounded and maintained in deep wisdom, writes Kaur. “Whatever name we choose [Spirit, God, Jesus, Allah, Om, Budhha-nature, Waheguru…] listening to our deepest wisdom requires disciplined practice. The loudest voices in the world right now are ones running on the energy of fear, criticism, and cruelty… My most vigilant spiritual practice is finding the seconds of solitude to get quiet enough to hear the Wise Woman in me.”

Although the practice takes discipline and time, Kaur is optimistic. “We all have the ability to participate in this great love story. Imagine the stories we will tell, the institutions we will build, and the lives we will lead when we affirm that every person is a person. Imagine the world we will birth when we see no stranger.”

---

Valarie Kaur has formed the Revolutionary Love Project. You can find out more about it via their website.

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, 2020 by Valarie Kaur
Published by one world, New York


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

U-Pick Season Winding Down at Canaan Orchard

The apple season is winding down at Canaan Orchard.

My brother Dave, has done a spectacular job at managing this 4-acre piece of heaven. [That's him on the tractor.]

It's hard to believe that the season has gone by so quickly. Starting the Thursday after Labor Day, which is Canaan's traditional opening. That includes six weeks and weekends of U-Pick.

Of course, the operation, this time of year, has been a family affair. My brother Dominic has been faithful to staff the Info Booth on Sundays. I take Saturdays. So, between us, we had the weekends covered. Normally, that's when the busiest times occur, but, as with the Michigan weather, you never can tell!

On Sunday. my sister Deborah and her husband, Barry were on hand to help.

We picked out a row of Golden Delicious. A tote-full. Headed to the South Michigan Food Bank. It took us about an hour, which is remarkably quick. Evidence of the old saying: "Many hands make light work." [From 15th Century writer John Haywood.]

From left to rt. Dom, Barry, Dan, Dave & Deborah
Canaan is a place that has a very high percentage of folks coming back. About 95 percent. But this year there's been a notable increase in "first timers." Most of them hear about Canaan through Google maps. 

And Eldred Homestead, a bed-and-breakfast in the village of Climax, has referred folks to us. They have also featured apples from Canaan on their dining room table! The homestead getaway is breathtakingly beautiful!!!

At this point, it looks like the U-Pick season will be extended through the rest of this week (week of October 17th) and the upcoming weekend. The varieties and number of apples are winding down, but if you live nearby, the trip is worth it. 

Nestled among a horseshoe of cornfields, with or without the U-picking, there's no denying Canaan is a friendly place. 

Photo Credit: All photos by Deborah Salerno

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A Trip to Oberlin, Ohio

Over the Labor Day weekend, I traveled through Ohio to attend a nephew's wedding.

Along the way, I met up with siblings and a brother-in-law in Oberlin.

Oberlin is the home of Oberlin College, founded in 1832, by Rev. John Shipherd a Congregational minister, and Philo Stewart. (Twelve years later Shipherd founded Olivet College in Olivet, MI.)

According to Oberlin's website, from early on, the college was noted for its progressive causes. "Oberlin was coeducational from its founding and regularly admitted black students beginning in 1835."

Oberlin's website also notes that in 1844 George Vashon became the first black student to earn a bachelor's degree and in 1962 Mary Jane Patterson earned a BA in education, becoming the first black woman to earn a degree from an American college.

The town of Oberlin was also noted for its progressive stands. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War.

I had the good fortune of arriving in Oberlin about an hour ahead of my siblings so I used the time to do some exploring - despite the drizzly skies.

One of the places that caught my eye was the town's Ben Franklin store. It featured a prominent book store, taking up about a third of the store! The books were arranged alphabetically by author, within categories. There were several comfortable seats along the perimeter of the book section, to encourage browsing. 

It was a rare opportunity. In the 1970s there were about 2,500 Ben Franklin stores across the country. But today there are only a handful.

At one time, Ben Franklin was the second largest franchise in America, next to Singer Sewing Machine.

My visit happened to occur during the Oberlin Poetry Walk, which featured poems written by middle school children in town.


One poem, titled "Light" by Aarohi Mehta, an eighth grader, reads:

Don't let the cracks in the dark seep into the light
Let peace be the only word in our vocabulary
Let Friday be everyday
Let Monday be never
Let college tuitions be free even for the rich
Let jump rope in the Olympics
Let graphite be unbreakable
Don't let the world revolve around you
Let the light shine no matter what

Mehta's poem was framed and placed on a downtown Oberlin storefront, along with several others from different teen poets.

Another plaque I came across acknowledged the life of Mary Burnett Talbert, who grew up in Oberlin and graduated from Oberlin College in 1886. Burnett Talbert led the National Association of Colored Women. After teaching in Arkansas, she married and moved to Buffalo where she helped to set up a settlement house and organize the first chapter of the NAACP.

One of the more eye-catching buildings on the Oberlin campus is the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Since its founding in 1917, the Museum offers free admission to view over 15,000 works of art. 

The collections include: African and Oceanic, Americas, Ancient, Asian, Modern, and a collection from Eva Hesse, a post-minimalist sculptor. According to the Museum's website, Hesse is widely considered one of the most important and influential figures in postwar American art.

Between 1886 and 1919 Andrew Carnegie donated over $40 million to pay for 1,679 libraries across the United States. One of those libraries was built on the campus of Oberlin College.

Another stunning piece of work is the Finney Chapel. 


According to the college website, the chapel was built on the site of the former home of Oberlin President Finney, being dedicated in 1908. It has a seating capacity of close to 2,000. 

The building's architect, Cass Gilbert, designed the space to be used both for worship and for music performance - a key part of Oberlin College.

All in all the visit to Oberlin was truly eye-opening. With a population of just over 8,200 there's a lot to see! 

As a side note, while in Oberlin, we had lunch at The Fevre on S. Main Street, a stone's throw away from the College. We waited about twenty minutes for a table for four, but the wait was definitely worth it!

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Photos by Dan Salerno







Monday, September 12, 2022

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine D. Pohl, A Review

Christine Pohl's Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, starts off as a somewhat academic exploration of how Christians, through the centuries, have handled the act of hospitality. 

Right away,  Pohl explains that hospitality isn't entertaining. It's offering basic human needs - like shelter and food - to those living on the fringes. 

The first quarter or so of the book lays out how the Christian church started off as a group of "strangers in a strange land," misfits who, like Jesus, didn't fit the culture they lived in. Because of this reality, the early followers of Jesus naturally focused on helping others.

Midway through Making Room, Pohl turns her attention to the specifics of hospitality - and, for this reader - that's where the real heart of the issue became clearer. 

Writes Pohl: "Although as a society we seem enamored with those who project self-confidence and offer ready answers to even the most complex questions, the best hosts are people who recognize their own failures and weaknesses. When we offer hospitality, our faults as well as our possessions are open to scrutiny. If we need to hide either, we are unlikely to offer much hospitality...

"A life of hospitality means a more continual interaction with others, and fewer opportunities to carefully project a 'perfect image.'"

Pohl points out that hospitality shouldn't be used to gain an advantage, like soliciting new church members. "To view hospitality as a means to an end, to use it instrumentally, is antithetical to seeing it as a way of life, as a tangible expression of love... When we use occasional hospitality as a tool, we distort it, and the people we 'welcome' know quickly that they are being used."

She also discusses the human tendency to distinguish between the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor. "Echos of such concerns ring loudly today in complaints about welfare abuse, in questions about whether some people are 'really' homeless, and in distinctions between political and economic refugees."

Pohl makes the point that "[T]he potential for misuses of hospitality cannot be eliminated. Most gracious hosts and hospitable communities know that they will sometimes be 'used,' but they provide welcome anyway. There is no perfect solution to this issue."

There's also the reality of individuals receiving hospitality who come from broken homes. She quotes Edith Schaeffer, who with her husband, Francis, founded the L'Abri community. "For some young people, L'Abri homes are the first really happy homes they have ever seen."

The paradox seems to be that offering hospitality is one of the most powerful things a church can do, yet it is often the most difficult. "Churches have generally done better with offering food programs and providing clothing closets that with welcoming into worship people significantly different from their congregations. Because we are unaware of the significance of our friendship and fellowship, our best resources often remain inaccessible to strangers."

Christine Pohl/Photo Credit Asbury Theological Seminary
And the author is very up-front in describing challenges faced when engaging individuals living on the edge of society. "When we focus on hospitality to very needy strangers, we encounter additional strains. In the midst of a larger society that can be hostile to the very people we welcome, it can be extremely difficult to absorb the pain of rejection and loss which our guests bring with them."

It's no wonder, writes Pohl, that "Hospitality will not occur in any significant way in our lives or churches unless we give it deliberate attention. Because the practice has been mostly forgotten and because it conflicts with a number of contemporary values, we must intentionally nurture a commitment to hospitality. It must also be nurtured because the blessings and the benefits are not always immediately apparent."

It takes grace, writes Pohl. And it is at this point in Making Room, that Pohl offers practical bits of wisdom.

"A life of hospitality begins in worship, with a recognition of God's grace and generosity. Hospitality is not first a duty and responsiblity; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God's love and welcome to us."

The rest of Making Room could be used as a "how-to" manual for loving our neighbors in need.

"Our hospitality both reflects and participates in God's hospitality. It depends on a disposition of love because, fundamentally, hospitality is simply love in action."

"We make a habit of hospitality when we remember how much Jesus is present in the practice."

"We nurture hospitality as a habit and a disposition by telling stories about it. We retell the Bible stories of guests who turned out to be angels. We remember the stories of Jesus' life - how he welcomed all sorts of people..."

"We nurture hospitable dispositions and practices by explicitly teaching about them. A number of communities of hospitality are intentional about education; community life includes regular reflection on what hospitality means and looks like."

"Every contemporary practitioner of hospitality learned the practice from someone else's example... a gracious grandmother, or a wise and generous coworker. People for whom hospitality seems natural are wonderful models from whom to learn the practice... As contemporaries, they help us work out the practical details of an ancient practice."

Towards the end of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Pohl sums up brilliantly: "Because hospitality is a way of life, it must be cultivated over a lifetime... We do not become good at hospitality in an instant; we learn it in small increments of daily faithfulness."

Making Room:  Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
by Christine Pohl
Published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI.

Beyond Welcome by Karen Gonzalez, A Review

“Centering immigrants in our Christian response to immigration means that we make room for their integration but do not pressure them to ass...