Learning from the Stranger

Christian Faith and Cultural Diversity

by David I. Smith

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Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Eerdman’s
Publish Date: June 9, 2009
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802824633
ISBN-13: 978-0802824639

“I recommend this book as an excellent, theologically grounded introduction to cultural learning for use in courses on cultural diversity in Christian colleges and other faith-based communities.”

– Sherwood Lingenfelter
Fuller Theological Seminary

Cultural differences increasingly impact our everyday lives. Virtually none of us today interact exclusively with people who look, talk, and behave like we do. David Smith here offers an excellent guide to living and learning in our culturally interconnected world.

Learning from the Stranger articulates what “culture” is, discusses how cultural difference affects our perceptions and behavior, and explores how Jesus’ call to love our neighbor involves learning from cultural strangers. Built around three chapter-length readings of extended biblical passages (from Genesis, Luke, and Acts), the book skillfully weaves together theological and practical concerns, and Smith’s engaging text is peppered with stories from his own extensive firsthand experience.

This insightful book is particularly pertinent for today’s college students, although many other thoughtful readers will also resonate with Smith as he encourages the virtues of humility and hospitality in our personal interactions – and shows how actually learning from strangers, not just imparting our own ideas to them, is an integral part of Christian discipleship.

Author

David I. Smith

David I. Smith started his career teaching French, German and Russian in secondary schools in England before moving into higher education. He currently serves both as Director of Graduate Studies in Education and as Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has published extensively in the field of Christian educational theory and travels widely to speak at educational conferences and work with groups of teachers in both higher and K-12 education. He is editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education, and has been involved with a variety of curriculum projects.

Content

Table of Contents

  • Prologue: Relinquishing the Center
  • How Not to Bless the Nations
  • Culture and Bad Breath
  • Cage, Carnival, or Calling?
  • On Loving Foreigners
  • Plausible Ways of Falling Short
  • Learning from the Stranger
  • Of Babblers and Barbarians
  • Epilogue: Choosing the Journey

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Reviews

“What I so admire about the work of David Smith is his unique ability to take the complexities of postmodern scholarship and translate them with clarity for contemporary students. In Learning from the Stranger Smith tackles the elusive and ubiquitous ‘culture,’ exploring how those of us committed to living for Christ must grapple with our own conceptualizations of the stranger as a way of understanding who we are and how we interact with those around us. Important reading for today’s college students.”

– Terry A. Osborne
Fordham University

“A radically different introduction to the study of language and culture from a Christian theological perspective. . . Smith’s most powerful argument is that learning other languages and cultures is a task for ordinary Americans, not just those who hope to serve as cross-cultural missionaries. . . I recommend this book as an excellent, theologically grounded introduction to cultural learning for use in courses on cultural diversity in Christian colleges and other faith-based communities.”

– Sherwood Lingenfelter
Fuller Theological Seminary

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