Friday, January 27, 2017

Review of "They Are Us"

They Are Us: Lutherans and ImmigrationThey Are Us: Lutherans and Immigration by Stephen P. Bouman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“They Are Us” is a book reflecting on immigration by officials from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. It engages with the question of immigration and the lives of immigrants with great kindness. Unfortunately, it was written in 2009, and looking back on these writings now it feels like we’ve crossed some sort of Rubicon, and the insights are written from a much less polarized time.
That’s not to say “They Are Us” isn’t worth reading. Maybe even the voices of the recent past can call us back to a more faithful witness.
One of the central questions asked in the book is about how 9/11 changed how we do immigration here in the USA. The question is: “What kind of community is emerging from ground zero?”
The book spends some time looking at the biblical witness around faithfully ministering to and being immigrants. It looks at the history of immigration in the USA, taking a long view that can shake off some of our recent myopic views.
It tells stories of immigrants to the US both past and present, and ends with examples of churches engaging with immigrant communities well (and becoming immigrant communities).
The focus of the book is on the meaning of immigration, but it does eventually get to four concrete ways immigration reform can be faithful. It must respect family unity, ensure human and worker rights, make sure immigrants can live without fear, and create a path to permanent legal status for immigrants.

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