Now On Sale! Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise

My newest book Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise is now available on Amazon.

In 2011, I published Unclean and began to receive calls from churches and faith communities to come and talk about psychology and hospitality. Specifically, we know we are called to be communities of hospitality, but churches struggle mightily to cross social boundaries. Why is that so hard?

Well, the answer is Social Psychology 101. We are attracted to sameness, the similar, and the familiar, and are wary and apprehensive toward difference and the unfamiliar. Strangers are strange, and that makes us uncomfortable. Which makes the God who comes to us in strangers strange, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable.

So as I've talked to churches about hospitality, I've highlighted these emotional and affectional issues as our biggest obstacles to welcoming the God who comes to us in strangers.

In the early years doing these presentations I spent most of my time describing and diagnosing these dynamics. As readers of Unclean know, outside of advocating for open communion as a Eucharistic practice, I didn't have specific and practical recommendations about how, in the language of Stranger God, to "widen the circle of our affections" to welcome strangers.

Frustrated by this lack of practicality, I began searching for spiritual practices that could help cultivate the affectional capacities necessary for welcoming the God who comes to us in strangers. That search brought me to the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux. Discovering the Little Way allowed me to connect hospitality to spiritual disciplines, intentional practices aimed at cultivating what Miroslav Volf calls "the will to embrace."

Finally, back in 2011 when I wrote Unclean, I hadn't been living into a life of hospitality. I felt that disconnect keenly. So I started to practice what I was preaching. I started visiting the prison. I began to share life at Freedom Fellowship, where we walk alongside friends who are poor, homeless, addicted, disabled and paroled. And I formed a friendship with Kristi, and now spend time each week befriending the residents at the Highland Assisted Living facility. Now, six years later, my best friends are poor, disabled or incarcerated. Stranger God tells the story of how God has saved me through all of these friendships.

Many churches want to welcome their neighbors. We discern God's call to cross social boundaries to meet the Jesus who comes to us in disguise. But we are so, so divided by politics, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and class. Tribalism is at a fever pitch.

Stranger God was written "for such a time as this." The book was written for a popular, general audience, the kind of book anyone can read and enjoy. Stranger God shares the biblical call to hospitality, walks through all the emotional obstacles we face in welcoming strangers, introduces practices of hospitality rooted in the Little Way, and ends by connecting those practices to a larger vision of kingdom and mission. Stranger God is a hospitality manual, from A to Z, from the Bible, to social psychology, to practices anyone can do in their everyday life.

As you probably know, I'm not on Facebook or Twitter. So if you've enjoyed this blog and would like to say "Thank You" one way you could do that is to shoot out a Tweet or Facebook post about Stranger God. Any social media help would be much appreciated.

But mostly, I hope you like the book, and that it prompts us to get out of our comfort zones to welcome the stranger God.

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