Displaced Persons

Theological Reflection on Immigration, Refugees, and Marginalization

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Timothy Moore
  • Nashville, TN: 
    General Board of Higher Education & Ministry
    , September
     210 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


In the book Displaced Persons: Theological Reflections on Immigration, Refugees, and Marginalization edited by Matthew Charlton and Timothy Moore, the reader will find a variety of chapters exploring a range of human experiences of displacement. The introduction makes the volume’s targeted audience clear. While it casts a wide net addressing churches, ministries, and families, the book particularly attends to the university. They do so as the authors understand college campuses to be a unique nexus where diverse cultures and persons come together and therefore where a variety of human experiences of displacement are encountered. 

As with all multi-author volumes, different readers will find some essays to be more helpful than others, and while the theme of displacement ties the chapters together, the various human experiences addressed are quite diverse. The span of the topics include: an American missionary pastor in Germany examining the challenges of geographical-spiritual migrant dislocation; a university minister addressing the difficulties faced by young people in the Methodist Church; a reexamination of the place of the body in Methodism’s sexual ethic; and recommendations on how to help make people of all faiths feel welcomed at a campus interfaith center. What connects the chapters is their Methodist identity and their dominant focus on the experience of displacement on the university campus.

Throughout the chapters, a wide range of methodologies are employed in the discussion of dislocation. Chapters 1 and 9, focus on the role of the sacraments in reminding us “that our entire existence in this world is but a migrants’ experience, that we are all strangers in a strange land” (30). Chapter 7, examine the theological concepts of incarnation and sanctification to critique Kantian rational and moral categories. Chapter 6, demonstrates the results of collected statistical data using both qualitative and quantitative approaches to better understand the displaced experience of Native American young adults in the Methodist Church. Chapter 4 shares anecdotal stories and personal experiences regarding how to create and maintain a hospitable environment in a campus’s interfaith center. While the variety of methodologies make for enjoyable reading, there were a few places, particularly on page 43, when the author would provide a quotation without any citation or footnote. This was confusing, as it was unclear if the author was referencing a book but failed to provide a citation for the quotation or if they were referring back to a prior personal conversation they discussed earlier in the text.

Ultimately, the book is well-suited for a diverse readership among academics, university chaplains, and college administrators especially though not limited to those in the Methodist Church. Yes, this reviewer is not sure the book would be a good fit as a required text for a university class. With the notable exception of chapters 6, the chapters written about young adults are more likely to be beneficial for chaplains, professors, and administrators than actual young adult college students as most of the chapters do not ask or require anything of the student. Young adults are examined as parties to be understood and made comfortable. The book could be better adapted for the classroom if the chapters offered a vision of the university campus in which young adult students were not merely accommodated to but were also invited to join in a purposeful and intentional calling—one in which their participation was necessary. However, this single critique should not detract from the overall merits of the book which I for one hope receives a wide reading.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Michael Spalione is a doctoral candidate at the University of Aberdeen and Adjunct Professor at Bellarmine University.

Date of Review: 
June 18, 2019
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Matthew W. Charlton is Research Associate of Theology at Wesley House, Cambridge.

Timothy S. Moore is Director of Donor Development at Union Presbyterian Seminary.


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