“What is it that exile affords you?…the essential privilege of exile is to have, not just one set of eyes, but half a dozen, each of them corresponding to the places you’ve been.” Edward Said from Orientalism: The Documentary 1986
I was not born into Evangelicalism. I became an Evangelical/Pentecostal through a radical Christian conversion experience at the age of 21. After pastoring for 20 years in a Pentecostal denomination, I was kicked out for doing what they said we were supposed to be doing – taking Jesus to those outside the church walls, and specifically to a group of people (Witches and NeoPagans) who felt as though Christianity had severely abused them. I guess the Witches were completely correct, because I was kicked out of a denomination for befriending them.
The above short history is what causes me to stop and ponder at statements like Edward Said’s above. Said was a Palestinian, who was born in Jerusalem before Israel existed. In the Winter of 1947-1948, his family fled Palestine for Egypt as did so many other Palestinians. Their land would be confiscated, and they would not be able return to their former familial home. Said became one of the founders and most influential voices of postcolonialist thought. His exile gave him insight unlike any other.
Having been exiled from my own tribe, and having worked as a bridge-builder to an exiled people, I think I understand what Said means here. There does seems to be a privileged place of perspective for the exile. I see things differently than I did before being accused and abused by my former denomination, and in fact this perspective is central to why I care about, and seek to reach places like Burning Man, Rainbow Gatherings, and Transformative Festivals.
What do you think?