I'm racing through Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution (note, I'm not making it so quickly through John Goldingay's Israel's Theology, and for the record, I'm also rereading The Shipping News and some Flannery O'Connor short stories, so as not to shortchange the fiction world.)
I want to get back in future posts to Claiborne's book itself, but today I am wondering why I feel defensive about Shane Claiborne. I applaud, I approve, I'm with love with what he's doing in living in friendship with the poor in the Simple Way community in Philadephia.
Yet I find myself thinking, but but but but ... He can do it because he started so young, because he "got it" so young. He was working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta as a college student while I was wandering around cluelessly. When I "got it," I was already on the path of the suburban, materialist life. I also find myself thinking, but, but, but ... Shane is apparently an extrovert. I'm an introvert. I love people, but derive my energy from being alone. Shane, at least as he portrays himself, seems to thrive when he's around people. So, I think, it's easier for him to be out there, tending the dying in India or dancing in the park with the poor kids of Philadelphia.
All my thoughts are true: A person who "gets it" later than life is going to have a harder time living the faith with the transparent purity of a Claiborne. A person who is more introverted is going to be a somewhat different part of the body of Christ.
Claiborne follows the Way, as he calls it, so classically, so purely, so as we --or I --want the script to look that one wonders: Why am I not doing that? Obviously that's the question he wants to raise in people's mind.
What the book needs to become, at least for me, is an encouragement to throw out all the scripts, even THAT script. A script is often about trying to work things out from the outside in, whereas as the unique (and I use that word deliberately) script for each of our lives grows from the inside out. A script is about getting to right place on the stage to meet God: but God meets us where we are (even if sometimes where we are is moving to a new place, physically or otherwise). So my question to myself --and others-- is how do we take the message of living into a new culture that's healthier and more compassionate than the dominant culture and work it out from where we are?
I'm a big Claiborne fan as well, I'm working on his new book and am really enjoying it. It's similar to McLaren's Secret Message of Jesus only better.
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