To Leave Your Kindred and Your Father’s House. Contemporary Dutch Christian Border Narratives

  • Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar Avans Hogeschool, Learning and Innovation Centre (LIC)
  • Krina Huisman Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Keywords: Reformed Liberated Church, border experiences, narrative identity, multiculturalism


In this article the authors analyse a collection of essays written by young Dutch people who grew up in the Reformed Liberated Church, a small Christian denomination in the Netherlands. Traditionally, this church is characterised by its inwards nature: members strive to live their lives within the confinements that the church and its institutions stipulate. This has changed over the last few decades and the essays attest to the effects these changes have had on individual lives. We discuss the underlying narrative structure of their accounts and how the authors negotiate different lifestyles and interpretations of the Christian faith on either side of the borders that demarcate the Reformed Liberated tradition. We discuss if – and how – the essays work towards an outcome of ‘discordant concordance’ (Ricœur) where narrative identities remain whole, despite relatively drastic border crossings in the course of the lives that formed them. We address how these stories give insight into how people use the stories they tell to define what needs to be remembered and forgotten when we cross borders. Finally, we discuss the relevance of these essays and our analysis of them for our understanding of today’s globalised and multicultural societies in which many are in a permanent state of transition.


This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on February 17th and published on August 28th 2017.

Author Biographies

Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar, Avans Hogeschool, Learning and Innovation Centre (LIC)

Dr. Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar works for the Learning and Innovation Centre at Avans University of Applied Sciences. His research focuses on applied narratology and aims to use insights from the academic study of narrative to analyse the role of storytelling and life writing in society and to develop narrative methods for improving professional storytelling practices. His recent publications on this topic include Stories of Becoming: The Use of Storytelling in Education, Counselling and Research (co-edited with Lynn Wood, 2017) and a special issue (11:1) on narrative resistance of the Global Media Journal/Australian Edition (co-edited with Hart Cohen and Rachel Morley, 2017).

Krina Huisman, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Krina Huisman is a doctoral candidate in the field of literary and cultural studies at the University of Groningen. Her research focuses on grief plots circulated through popular writing on bereavement published in the Netherlands in the 21st century. These plots offer moral orientation points in a context where collective mourning rituals and etiquette have become heavily contested. While working as junior researcher for Saxion University of Applied Sciences, she co-authored a chapter on narrative career training in Het onzekere voor het zekere: kwetsbaarheid als kracht in loopbaandialogen (2014).