Not another book!
Well, as usual, I have several book going at once. Last night, I began Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution.
While so far agreeing with most of what he said, I was also skeptical, thinking, yeah, yeah, yeah, he's a cool skinny young guy with a kerchief on his head living in an intentional Christian community in a big city ... have we not been there and done that before? Is this a new story? And I thought, this is worthy, worthy work and I support it ... but does it warrant another book?
The jury is still out on that, though perhaps each mini-generation needs to hear this story anew. And I'm just at the beginning ...
However, the book already reveals some things I really like about Claiborne: He's giving away all his proceeds, advances and royalties. Also, during the 1990s, he and a friend went and helped Mother Teresa in Calcutta. That's amazing and had to be life-transforming.
Of course, there's the romance of Mother Teresa, and then the glam of doing the wild communal thing in the heart of a U.S. city ... and I have to remember that there's so much to be said for we suburbanites simply reaching out prosaically to the people all around us, who can be hurting or needing help in many ways that are not as dramatic but just as real. Cedar Ridge pounds on that all the time, and I'm glad they do, because as simple as all this is, the reminders help. We don't need to travel to India (though that's admirable) but we can invite our neighbors over, give them a call, pick up trash on the side of the street ... One of the things I did a few months ago was not to simply blow off a hispanic man who called me as a wrong number. I was able, dimly and by a thread, (and I attribute that dim seeing to years of spiritual work) to recognize he was distressed, and so I didn't hang up. As it happened, because he was at a computer, I was able to help him use the Internet to find the phone number he needed. He was intensely grateful and though it was only maybe three minutes out of my day, I felt I had genuinely helped. And I was very grateful that I could help.
Anyway, I will leave with one Claiborne quote. I've heard it before (I've written it before!) but it still resonates:
"But there is another movement stirring, a revolution of sorts. Many of us our refusing to allow distorted images of our faith to define us. ... There is ... a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of. And this revolution is irresistible. It is a contagious revolution that dances, laughs and loves."
What do you think?
I've often scratch my head over the pheneomenon of Shane. As you said, haven't many of us been the do-gooder suburban kids living in intentional urban communities? The model's been around for at least twenty years and has always been particularly strong in Philly (the whole Quaker/MNS influence).
Then I watch a video of Shane and he just has such an engaging way of talking about the work and the life. It makes me want to say "yeah, I'd like to do that!" Somehow he's found the language and enthusiasm to make it all seem fresh and exciting again.
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