Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Irresistible Revolution

Just finished reading Irresistible Revolution, Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne

I read this book when it first came out. Normally, I do not read books more than one time, but Shane's book is definitely worth more than one read.

Re-reading Shane's book reminded me of things I had been thinking about and pondering. Mostly I have been very troubled and convicted by the implications of the last verses of Matthew 25 (Sheep and Goats).

Shane is kind of a frightening looking guy, at least to some "respectable Christian folk" (certainly not me). He has dreadlocks, a scraggly beard, weird looking glasses, and he makes his own clothes. Definitely not your typical preacher in a slick $1000 dollar suit.

He is part of a seemingly new, encouraging breed of evangelicals (this group includes Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis as well). These are Christians who are encouraging a more full living of the gospel message (i.e. working for peace, working on Social Justice and environmental issues, feeding the poor, taking care of each other), and not just a few narrow morality issues or evangelizing to get people "saved" and into heaven (certainly that is important, but it can become too narrow a focus, leaving a lot of pain and suffering for those who have to live here till it's time to go to heaven).

Shane lives in a community in Philadelphia called The Simple Way. The book talks a lot about his work on Peace and Social Justice issues. Shane talks about his staying with Mother Teresa in Calcutta (I love that he calls her Momma T).

Shane also talks of his time spent in Iraq early on in the US invasion and occupation. I love the quote from one of the doctors in Iraq that he talks to:

"Violence is for those who have lost their imagination. Has your country lost its imagination?"

I think this line speaks volumes. And it speaks volumes for our dealings with other countries such as Iran. To drop bombs and initiate wars means you have FAILED in diplomacy. I would go one further and say that in the case of Iraq, that diplomacy was not tried at all - only as a means to buy time (and to give the look of legitimacy - as they said "we tried hard, we tried diplomacy, but it didn't "work" so now we have to go to war") to get ready for the invasion which had already been decided on.

In the case of Iran, the signs look eerily similar.

A lot of bad things happened this past Friday with the economy. 5.5% unemployment. Barrels of Oil going up $11 in one day. The stock market crashing. Americans are worried. A lot of people are losing their jobs, losing their homes. Some are on the brink. Everywhere you look there seems to be gloom and doom. Comparisons are made to the time of the Great Depression (and the economy looks bad now, but if you read about the economy then - there is no comparison - the Great Depression dwarfed this economic trouble in terms of scope. That is not to say that the economy might not get worse before it is all over).

And there is a lot of pain both here and in other countries. But, we ALWAYS claim to be a Christian nation. And in the Bible there are answers to these questions on how to survive these times. How we should be taking care of one another. How we should be sharing. How we should be living out community. How we can live alternatively to the "systems" of the world. Shane's book gives great "real world" application of that.

Too often though, Christianity is not real to us. I am not so simplistic as to say that all we have to do is just read the Bible and all will be well (I struggle with the worry and the fear myself, but take great comfort in Matthew 6:28-34). I also do not say that just because you read the Bible or are a Christian you won't lose your job or your house.

What I'm saying is that I think we have lost the sense of community which says that we are to take care of each other (See Acts 2:42-47, Matthew 25:31-46). Since I read the book the first time, I had done a lot of study on the Catholic Worker Movement and the lives of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (Shane mentions them several times in the book). I think their work also shows what true community is, and what taking care of each other really means.

As G. K. Chesterton said:

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

Shane's book shows us a little bit about how we can translate these biblical ideas into real world application.

1 comment:

Vince Patton said...

Nicely done - as always. You've been a great deal of thought into this one. You've articulated it very well!