Belonging has never come easy to me.
Growing up, there was my mutated national identity to deal with—my not-quite-American, not-quite-Indonesian soul, restless in both countries. Later, when I came out as a celibate gay Christian, I found I didn't fit into the church as easily as I used to. I've often wondered what it means to belong to others even when I can't manage to blend in with them.
The way Jesus tells it, if we give up on belonging in order to follow him, we'll find ourselves belonging anyway. We might not belong the way other people do, with normal homes and normal families and normal ways of fitting in. But we'll belong in a way that's a hundred times better. We'll be fully in place because we know we are out of place. We'll belong like aliens.
Maybe you're caught in the same tension as me, wanting to fit somewhere even as you're permanently out of place. Maybe you feel like an alien.
If so, let's be aliens together.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want and is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and Moody Bible Institute's Today in the Word. She earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in literature from Northwestern University, and she belongs to Redbud Writers Guild and INK. Wife and mother of five, Jen lives in Toronto, Canada, and is an enthusiastic supporter of HOPE International and Safe Families.
Table of Contents
Foreword Jen Pollock Michel 1
Tentacles: An Introduction 5
Part 1 Belonging In
1 Womb Nostalgia 13
2 Home Sweet Airport 19
3 Poohsticks in an Open Sewer 29
4 The Man Who Coughed Blood on Me 35
5 Hide and Seek 48
6 Dengue Days 55
7 How to Deal Drugs 65
Interlude: A Glorious Dark 72
Part 2 Belonging With
8 A Jedi's Training 75
9 Santai Sundays 83
10 Friendship Costs Twenty-Five Dollars an Hour 91
11 The Origami Artists 102
12 Laundering 111
13 Ghosts of Friendship Past 117
14 Thank You for Making Me Hurt 125
Interlude: Stitching 133
Part 3 Belonging To
15 Magnets 137
16 That Guy Who Cleaned My Microwave 144
17 The Art of Neighboring 152
18 Table for One 160
19 Limbs 170
20 Memento Mori 181
21 Rivers Cannot Sweep It Away 190
Postlude: Shore 199
What People are Saying About This
"In this profound book, Greg Coles revisits a familiar but essential theme of the Christian life—being an alien pilgrim. The exploration he takes the reader on echoes voices of the past like Paul or Augustine of Hippo, only with the added vibrancy and poignancy of his experience as a celibate gay Christian. Sharing a similar journey myself, this book wonderfully captures what it's like to be totally alien in a culture and church that has compromised by making its home here. This is a riveting and deeply personal memoir of living in the now-but-not-yet tension of being a disciple of Christ in a world that doesn't always understand the search to live for the greater good of God's presence. Coles provides a rare and rich opportunity to gain insight into the reality of following Christ in the ultimacy of its beauty, difficulty, and hope. This book is for those who refuse to compromise and instead live for the deeper joy of finding their 'haven sweet of rest' in Jesus Christ."
"Structured around compelling narrative, No Longer Strangers is a story of the human quest for acceptance and belonging. Greg Coles, in his winsome and honest way, takes all of us on a journey to discover the places, the people, and the God in whom and to whom we all belong."
"Greg Coles has done it again! He's managed to produce a book that is just as beautiful as it is meaningful. With wit and charm, Greg invites you into his journey of belonging—a journey you never want to end. Greg helps us see that the twists and turns in our own journeys are what make them significant. This book is a real page-turner!"
"I have a group of writers I call my 'print pastors'—people who help to shepherd me along the Christian way through their books. Greg Coles is in that group. His insightful meditations on the Bible, lively stories, humble and humorous self-disclosures, and timely invitations to a more faithful, missional life are some of the things God has used to convict and comfort me. Read this book slowly and reflectively, and let Greg pastor you too."
"In No Longer Strangers, Gregory Coles offers a heartfelt and compelling exploration of what it means to belong to Jesus and to others, especially when we feel the ache of being an outsider. With engaging storytelling and incisive theological reflection, Coles invites us into the journey of finding our home, not only in Christ but in the beloved community where aliens become brothers and sisters."
"Simply superb. Theologically excellent. Deeply personal. Brutally honest. Intensely engaging. Coles's writing is simply exquisite. He moves from vivid description of personal experience to profound theological reflection with the ease of an exceptionally gifted writer. A must-read."
"Greg Coles is one of the most talented Christian writers I know. His writing is remarkably vivid, whimsical, and poignant all at the same time. I believe that God has raised up Greg Coles as a unique voice to speak with excellence and grace to a number of challenges that the church faces today. I want to read everything he writes!"
"When I finished reading No Longer Strangers I thought that all of my friends should read this book, because in its pages they will find a friend in Greg, hope for the church, and true belonging with Friend and Lover, Jesus Christ."
"Greg’s book is most 'delightful,' to use one of his often-used expressions. I enjoyed reading about his quest for belonging through various friendships, among his peers, families, with his God, or his church community. His skills in adjusting to his environment, a third-culture-kid characteristic, is key in his crossing various cultural bridges. Like most TCKs, Greg is a gem of a friend. His writings reveal his pursuit of being authentic and vulnerable while honoring his Indonesian roots, celibate gay Christian core, and wonderful sense of humor. What a delightful book!"
"Greg Coles has become one of the most important voices in the church. I can't express how grateful I am for him and for this book. No Longer Strangers is another home run—showing us a creative, bold, and intrepid way forward in following Jesus in a gray world. I commend him to you. And his melodic book."
"In his new book, No Longer Strangers, Greg Coles explores belonging in a deeply personal panorama of his life. It's a book about real connection. The engaging stories are layered through multiple aspects of his crosscultural and mobile life, creating a very Christian, very human experience. Read it."
"Equal parts delightful and sobering, Greg Coles relates his experience of being a third-culture kid to the alienness of the Christian life. Self-deprecating without victimizing himself for all the ways he's felt different or out of place, he levels the ground for all of us who have always felt a little extra or a lot not enough. Come for the stories, and leave with a bit more hope for the future church and all the different ways Christ draws us in and sends us out."