Last week I began Part 1 of this series on immigration reform asking:
What do you think we should do as Christians regarding immigration reform?
Although I am not going to conclude to the answers of this question in this article, I am going to begin providing building blocks to construct a biblical theology for immigration. I want to remind you as readers that I have not chosen to delve into the topic of illegal immigration just yet.
Last week I read an article in the Washington Post- On Faith section by Lisa Miller called “The biblical case for immigration reform” and a section really caught my attention.
Immigration is the most dramatic of American narratives. It involves hardship and persecution, and then — finally — relief and the opportunity to start again. When we put our hands over our hearts to pledge allegiance to the flag, we remember the people whose struggles gave us everything.
For me, this section highlighted the point “to talk story” that I have been learning this year through my involvement with New Wine, New Wineskins at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. In “talking story” we learn to value the culture, experiences, and beliefs of others through listening and sharing together dialogically in a group or one-on-one setting. My friend Brandon, from Hawaii, has been very influential in teaching me this.
So before we hate Emma Lazarus, what do we know about her? The Jewish Women’s Archive documents this about her:
One of the first successful Jewish American authors, Lazarus was part of the late nineteenth century New York literary elite and was recognized in her day as an important American poet. In her later years, she wrote bold, powerful poetry and essays protesting the rise of antisemitism and arguing for Russian immigrants’ rights. She called on Jews to unite and create a homeland in Palestine before the title Zionist had even been coined.
As a Jewish American woman, Emma Lazarus faced the challenge of belonging to two often conflicting worlds. As a woman she dealt with unequal treatment in both. The difficult experiences lent power and depth to her work. At the same time, her complicated identity has obscured her place in American culture.
Therefore, for what we know about her from this we can impart that she had a strong sense of her belief as a Jew, that she valued activism for social issues of her people, and that her identity as a Jewish American woman, a very distinct minority, has left her almost veiled in the history of American literature and public interest even though her poem, “The New Colossus” is on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Valuing people for their worth as the imago Dei, made in God’s image, is the first step towards a biblical theology of immigration. Individuals all share one thing in common outside of this spiritual and theological factor, that is, they all have stories to share. One thing that I implore you as my readers is, take time to learn people’s stories around you in your neighborhood, workplaces, schools, and even churches. You might be surprised at what you find!
Read “Hating Emma Lazarus Part 1”: http://wp.me/p1oVBU-hD