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The Stranger

Victor Brombert has analysed L'Étranger and Sartre's "Explication de L'Étranger" in the philosophical context of the Absurd.[6] Louis Hudon dismissed the characterisation of L'Étranger as an existentialist novel in his 1960 analysis.[7] The 1963 study by Ignace Feuerlicht begins with an examination of the themes of alienation, in the sense of Meursault being a 'stranger' in his society.[8] In his 1970 analysis, Leo Bersani commented that L'Étranger is "mediocre" in its attempt to be a "'profound' novel", but describes the novel as an "impressive if flawed exercise in a kind of writing promoted by the New Novelists of the 1950s".[9] Paul P. Somers Jr. has compared Camus's L'Étranger and Sartre's Nausea, in light of Sartre's essay on Camus's novel.[10] Sergei Hackel has explored parallels between L'Étranger and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.[11]

The Stranger

A Tradition of Welcome and Pastoral ConcernThis call is based on the rich heritage of Scripture and the Church's teaching. The patriarchs themselves were nomads. Settled by the hand of God in the time of Abraham, they soon migrated to Egypt, where they suffered oppression and were delivered once again by God's hand. From this experience comes a deep appreciation for the plight of the migrant, underlined in the words of Scripture: "You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt" (Ex 23:9). "You shall treat the stranger who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you, have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once strangers in the land of Egypt" (Lv 19:33-34). The Torah made special provisions for immigrants with the reminder that "you too were once slaves in Egypt" (Dt 16:9-12): "At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithes of your produce for that year and deposit them in community stores, that the Levite who has no share in the heritage with you, and also the alien, the orphan and the widow who belong to your community, may come and eat their fill; so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake" (Dt 14:28-29).

Indeed, the experience of exile, oppression, and deliverance to the Promised Land is the central act of the drama of salvation for Judaism. In honor of God's deliverance of his people, Israel was enjoined to show justice towards all: "For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him. So you too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt" (Dt 10:17-19). Jesus echoes this tradition when he proclaims prophetically, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35).

The Church has remained faithful to this call to care for migrants of all kinds and has responded accordingly over the centuries. The apostolic constitution Exsul Familia, promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1952, takes its name from its evocation of the "émigré Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt," to which the pope pointed as "the archetype of every refugee family." Pope Pius XII recalls a long tradition of papal solicitude for immigrants and refugees, noting the hospitality to strangers and refugees traditionally provided by the Holy See and recalling the words of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215: "We find in most countries, cities and dioceses people of diverse languages who, though bound by one Faith, have varied rites and customs. Therefore we strictly enjoin that the Bishops of these cities or dioceses provide the proper men, who will celebrate the Liturgical Functions according to their rites and languages." The pope cites with pride, as one proof of the Church's constant solicitude in this respect, the provisions for the establishment of "national parishes" in the United States in the nineteenth century to accommodate the immigrants of that era.

As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion that is our destiny as Children of God. We commit ourselves, accordingly, to working to strengthen understanding among the many cultures that share in our Catholic faith, to promoting intercultural communication among our people, and to seeing that those in ministry to our communities gain the language and cultural skills necessary to minister to the immigrants in our midst.

"Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang have put the 'rubber to the road' for Christians when it comes to the topic of immigration and refugee policy. Welcoming the Stranger has become a widely read explanation of a biblical response to immigration. It's refreshing to read Christian authors address a global crisis in a decidedly Christ-like manner. Soerens and Yang lead the reader through a logical argument for a compassionate policy shift on this volatile topic. I can genuinely say after reading this book, that maybe there is hope that the church will once again welcome the stranger."

As the passage continues, each head of household is instructed to leave the basket of first fruits and rejoice "together with the [family of the] Levite (ha-Levi) and the stranger (ha-ger) in your midst, all the bounty that the Eternal your God has bestowed upon you and your household" (Deuteronomy 26:11).

In my opinion, [God] is saying, do not oppress a stranger or wrong him [by] thinking that there is no one to save him from your hand, because you know that you were strangers in the Land of Egypt. But I saw the oppression that the Egyptians put to you and I brought vengeance upon them because I see the tears of the oppressed who have no comforter while the hand of the oppressors has power. ... You know that every stranger is disheartened and sighs and cries out, with eyes directed toward God. And God will have mercy on [the stranger] just as God had mercy on you, as it is written, "The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to God" (Exodus 2:23). That is to say, it was not because of their merit [that God helped the Israelites], but only because God had mercy on them from the bondage. (Nachmanides on Exodus 22:20)

When we read these words that we "have become the people," it means that we are coming together as one. If we are truly to then be considered an am, "a people," it means we are listening closely enough to one another so that we can fulfill the commandments and be ready to welcome in those who have no one else. The more that we continue to remember those already a part of the am, listening to them, allows us to serve the stranger beyond even the call of the mitzvot.

When I read this, "Adoptive parents must understand that their role has to be broad enough to encompass the full range of trauma," the tears were already welling up in my eyes! At last, I thought, someone is writing to a general audience in accessible language, about what we adoptive parents know, from years of experience, yet feel constrained from sharing, lest we be thought self-pitying. To be sure, parenting comes with huge challenges (it's the most important and difficult job we undertake, only to be fully qualified upon completion!) yet welcoming a "stranger" has another depth of challenge. Thinking of it as "hospitality" hadn't ever occurred to me, although over the course of nearly 50 years of marriage, my wife and I have "taken in strangers" multiple times! Our now 37 year old son, was 6 months old when we adopted him from South Korea. I went over to "bring him home!" While there, I met with his foster mother, witnessing the bond they shared. A year later that bond was still an elusive, anxious attachment with my wife, whose love was and remained unconditional. Our learning curve was very steep, yet we had a supportive Christian community and, for the most part, extended family. It was painful, however, when my parents would observe how delightfully bright our son was with them, completely missing the fact of his traumatic attachment as something we were "doing wrong" in our parenting. With passing years our son required care and found help in group home settings. Our bond strengthened, even deepened, in those years. Yet it wasn't until he was 14, emerging from coma following a traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident, that he and my wife (his mother!) bonded deeply. She midwifed him back to life. Today our "Lazarus" is gainfully employed and happily married! Thank God in all things, for happy outcomes and also for the thousands of adopted children and their parents who are struggling, yet now able to benefit from more accessible informative resources about attachment disorders in adoptive families. And, thank you for publishing this article to both inform and encourage future generations. 041b061a72


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