Cover Image: No Longer Strangers

No Longer Strangers

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Member Reviews

Alien. The irony of this visceral feeling is that no matter how often we are told how common this experience is, it still seems like a haunting, solitary journey. Greg Coles masterfully weaves stories from his life into essays on the experience of alienation. He is intimately familiar with the experience of feeling different from everyone else, but that hasn't stopped him from engaging deeply with those around him, even when it's hard.

Coles shares his experiences as a missionary kid in Indonesia, a grad student in Pennsylvania, and a celibate gay Christian. His thoughts on vulnerability, friendship, church, strangers, theology, rejection, goodbyes, celibacy, faith, and the radical, welcoming family of God are engaging are relatable, even when they stem from unique life experiences. The hardships he has faced would be enough to make some reject God or the Church, but Coles suggests a better way: leaning heavily into the arms of Jesus and giving the community of Christ the benefit of the doubt and loving deeply, even if rejection is a likely outcome. Those of us who feel alien can choose to retreat into ourselves or numb our pain, but a nobler choice is to be vulnerable with God and others, trusting that Jesus has a beautiful journey in store for us.

Coles intersperses his essays with beautiful poetry and "notes from an Alien Anthropologist" - literary devices that engage the reader creatively and welcome us into Coles' mind and heart. No Longer Strangers is a work that nourished my soul and encouraged me to get out of my head and lean into the arms of Jesus and my community of faith, even when it's messy.
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Coles considers different aspects of his life where he's experienced isolated or loneliness, showing the unexpected thing he learned in each sphere. His writing style is clever and humorous without being trite. His points are basically orthodox, although not ones that many Western Christians consider: if we are in the world and not of the world, and built for an Eden that we will not find this side of eternity, we must learn that some level of isolation is normal. We are literally made for another world. 
A collection of highly helpful points about learning to live with life's inherent conflict, while still affirming the hope found in Christ.
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