Sunday, February 01, 2009

Shane Claiborne: Irresistible Revolution

Before I started to read this book I heard some refreshing stuff from this young man on Speaking of Faith. I have also heard of him in association with and talking about New Monastics and his movement within those who seek to live a life after Christ.

I was excited by what he said!

So I listened more about him when it was convenient.

Eventually after being on hold for his book from the library I got it. But I didn't read it right away because the lustre had already started to fade on what he was saying.

So is my experience so far reading his book.

I recommend the book. It is just such a wonderful breath of fresh air. It is like a window thrown open in a stuffy old church, and it is just, just really needed.

He does advocate a rather radical approach to showing Christ. And thank God for that! He says go feed the poor, help your neighbor, help out in your community and just do it. He doesn't say volunteer at church, although there is nothing wrong with that, but having spent a summer in Calcutta he is coming back preaching some real on the ground Mother Teresa stuff. Love it.

But his audience seems to be largely for um, college kids. For those of us with kids and a house, the idea of moving into a large house with a bunch of other families just seems really, really, well first of all unrealistic. Certainly there is a way to play out what he is talking about without actually "taking a war machine and beating it into a plow" like his website recommends.

And so my thoughts these days are focusing all around how to take this revolutionary and exciting and severe message and make it a reality in our family.

There are things that can be done. Many things. Cutting down on consumption by buying used. Making sure to be proactive in helping out in our communities. Educating our kids about service. Being in ministry in every little aspect of our lives, whether it is in traffic or at the store.

But Shane calls for a much more radical approach. And therein lies the tension. He advocates not giving money to charities but to find the poor and give to them where they are. I think I understand his point which is don't just throw money, but make charity a part of your life, not just a part of your bills. I understand and agree with that. I am still going to give money to local charities.

His book is easy to read, it is inspiring. I am not a 20 something year old college kid anymore, but I think that had I found this book when I was, my choices may have been different. That doesn't mean I regret anything, I have a deeply satisfying life. And now I guess I feel compelled to not just think that if I pay my tithe, I am done, but to figure out other ways I can positively live this out.

He calls it The Simple Way, but in the same way that we can't all move to Calcutta and serve in the Khaligat (The home for dying and destitute that Mother Teresa runs), it gets complicated. I couldn't figure out what to think when recently OPB went to a food bank and interviewed a recently unemployed guy as he was going home after getting food. They asked him about the very fancy truck he was getting into with his food bank food. He said he hoped he wouldn't have to sell it.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

Furthermore, how does one live the Simple Way with very young children? I guess we wait until young Mr. Claiborne has kids (if he does have them) and he writes a book about that.

In the meantime, I am excited, he is coming to Newberg! Bauman Auditorium on February 7 at 10 am.

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