Reflecting on the “disestablishment” of the mainline Protestant churches, Walter Brueggemann once observed that those churches and their members are for the time being living in a kind of exile. He offered the further challenging and comforting observation that though exile entails humiliation and suffering, it is not necessarily a bad place to be. In exile, God’s people can say and do remarkable things.
One of the unhappy realities of living in exile is that one doesn’t get to define the terms of public discourse. During the Republican National Convention I was recuperating from hip surgery, and I amused myself in front of the television by calculating how long it took for whatever speaker was at the podium to start bashing “liberals.”