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Mosquito Coast

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Written by Basil on 05/15/2003 3:38 PM. Filed under:

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I have never had the pleasure of meeting an expatriate.

I imagine that there are both good and bad reasons for being an expatriate. Expatriation can mean simply living abroad, but sometimes it involves renouncing allegiance to patria — the land of one’s fathers. People have be at the very end of their tolerance to renounce their citizenship. They are usually angry in some sense.

I am an expatriate of sorts. I have renounced my allegiance to the religion of my birth. There are things about my former religion that make me angry, and I can sometimes be less than loving when I talk about it. I am sorry for this.

And yet, in a sense, I have not renounced my old religion; I have found its fulfillment. During my studies at a Christian liberal arts college, I deeply examined my faith. I removed beliefs which are inconsistent with the “core” doctrines. Most Protestants would consider these open to a believer’s personal opinion.

But my pilgrimage has not been one of pursuing my own ideas of what is true. These beliefs have been replaced with teachings that the Christian East considers essential and necessarily implied by those “core” doctrines. In other words, slowly my entire worldview shifted from a patchwork of beliefs to a single tapestry of faith. I accept the entire thing because I accept the authority of its weavers.

Because of this necessity, this “just so-ness” of Eastern Christian doctrine, it is easy to forget how arrogant traditional Christianity looks to Christians raised in the post-Reformation West, especially Christians who have inherited the Reformer’s religion. And, because of my anger over being abused and emotionally manipulated by people who did not know any better, it is easy to come across as judgmental and hateful.

An expatriate is often a poor example both of his former country and of his new country. All I can say is, “I’m sorry.”

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2 Responses to “Mosquito Coast”

  1. DrBacchus Says:

    It seems odd to me that in your time in College you never met an expatriate. Perhaps you simply did not think of it in those terms.

    In “the colonies”, an expatriate is rather different from what you describe. Those folks that think of themselves as expatriates are exactly the opposite, in fact – they are the folks that are loyally devoted to the motherland.

    “Expatriate” British in Kenya, which is my primary experience with the use of this term, are very british – much more so than their contrymen back home – are passionately defensive of their monarchy and parliament – again, moreso than thier compatriots back home – and try to create a replica of England in the land of their residence.

    I’m not sure how, or if, this is relevant to your comments, except that your use of expatriate to imply renunciation is very far from my experience.

  2. your name Says:

    Fascinating. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary entry for expatriate lists both living abroad and the renunciation of allegiance as a the primary definition, though renouncing one’s allegiance seems to be more a connotation than a denotation. I wonder if this is a British versus American usage issue.