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In religion, we talk about the "nones" (those who have left faith) and the "dones" (those who are over church). But I want to talk about another group: The Exiles. 1/

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Embed Diana Butler Bass @dianabutlerbass Follow Read on Twitter

Exiles would be part of a faith community if they could. But something keeps compelling them to move on, to not settle. 2/

Some are forced into exile, others go into self-exile. 3/

But their spirituality is related to movement. Like nomads following streams through the desert. 4/

Nomadic spirituality is a rich tradition in biblical faiths -- Abraham and Sarah, of course. But the Exodus is also an exile story -- exile from a settled life of injustice toward a journey of justice. 5/

The prophets were typically exiles of some sort. 6/

The people of Israel lived in long periods of exile, often the most theologically and liturgically rich times in their history. 7/

The truth of the Hebrew scriptures is that people long to settle, to build a Temple, but they most often mess that up -- and they have to move on in order to find God. 8/

As a politically oppressed person, Jesus was an exile -- his religious tradition was marginalized, his people held no political power. 9/

His earliest followers were women and slaves and other oppressed people, all exiled from place, position, power. 10/

Islam is, of course, an entire religion built on the spiritual experience of exile and nomadic faith. 11/

And throughout the history of Christianity, its greatest spiritual movements have been made up of exiles -- like Celtic Christianity, mendicant monks and nuns, travelers and pilgrims of all sorts. 12/

So, here's my question: Why do contemporary church leaders want to "reach out" to exiles and bring them "home"? 13/

As if these nomads and wanderers need to be fixed? 14/

Shouldn't it be JUST THE OPPOSITE???? That Christians who want a more vibrant faith should be following the exiles??? 15/

That is, after all, the biblical and historical example: That new birth happens at the edges, where people are willing to wander, to let go of what is settled and comfortable and walk into the desert. 16/

I'm just so weary of hearing the desperate cry, "We have to bring people back to church!" 17/

What if we said instead, "Where are people going and finding life? Can we tag along on the journey?" 18/

Maybe we are supposed to be exiles right now. After all, we've been colonists for a while and it hasn't been so good. 19/

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, without knowing where he was going." Hebrews 11:8

Maybe the nones, dones, and exiles know more than we think. Are hearing the call more than we think. 21/

I'm wondering if wandering is a sort of settling for Christians, and that our settling must always be open to wandering. Not one or the other, but the beautifully intertwined spiritual experience of both. 22/

Listen to the stories of contemporary exile. Learn from them. Let questions rise. 23/

(And yes, I know. I have 280 characters now. But it is more fun to do it this way.) end/

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