Friday, September 18, 2009

Irresistible Revolution

The BOOK REVIEW you should read!

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

I have truly struggled with how and when to share my thoughts about this book with my readers. There are parts of this book that would truly offend many of you. Also, there is a growing popularity of the author in many circles that borders on idolatry. So, I hesitate. I don't want to offend and I don't want to be yet another wannabe dread head that follows Shane Claiborne and becomes part of a trend. I can live with being offensive, but I hate trends.

That being said, I really really liked this book. Not since I read, C.S. Lewis', " The Great Divorce," have I been so affected by a book other than the Bible. This book, which my pastor recommended, coupled with the impact of our new church has made me challenge some of the most significant soap boxes I've stood on in my life.

So, what did I like about it? First I'll tell you what I didn't like. I didn't like that the author did a lot of name dropping throughout the book. It was slow at one point, but it picked up again at the end. Also, he was rather blunt at times and I was offended, at first.

Instead of summing up the book, here's just a couple ways the book impacted me, you'll have to read the book for the controversial points:

  • I'm reading the Bible with new eyes, asking with many others at our church in jest, "What if Jesus really did mean what He said?" For instance, "Feed the poor". I realized I don't actually know many poor people to feed. Thankfully, I'm starting to meet a few, but I have a long way to go! I've started giving my clothes and things away to actual people and not just sending it all to Salvation Army or Goodwill just to get my donation slip {YES, I endorsed this practice in my Money For Nothin' series a while back} . Here's what Shane Claiborne says about that:
I'm just not convinced that Jesus is going to say, "When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way and they fed me," or, "When I was naked, you donated clothes to the Salvation Army and they clothed me." Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He seeks concrete acts of love: "you fed visited me in welcomed me into your clothed me."

...The church becomes a distribution center, a place where the poor come to get stuff and the rich come to dump stuff. Both go away satisfied (the rich feel good, the poor get clothed and fed), but no one leaves transformed. No radical new community is formed. And Jesus did not set up a program but modeled a way of living that incarnated the reign of God, a community in which people are reconciled and our debts are forgiven just as we forgive our debtors (all economic words). That reign did not spread through organizational establishments or structural systems. It spread like disease - through touch, through breath, through life. It spread through people infected by love.
  • Community. "Love your neighbor as yourself" has taken on a refreshingly new meaning where I don't translate "neighbor" as just everybody in the world, but rather my actual neighbors, that live next door to me. I'm trying to truly love them, then branch out from there. I've taken bread to all of my neighbors since our move, with a note that invites them to call us if they need anything. Better yet, I'm trying (and so is Ben) to make genuine relationships with them. Sadly, at our last house I can count on one hand the number of good conversations I had with my neighbors and we lived there for nine years!
The community concept is much much bigger than just what I mentioned, but I'm taking baby steps. I have many aspirations that I'll share with you as they unfold. For a much bigger picture of community and how we can live out His will on Earth as it is in Heaven, read this book for some inspiring stories and some gut wrenching convictions.

Finally, I want to end with one last quote (actually of a footnote) that I love to share with others:

The story of Minucius is a beautiful glimpse of irresistible revolution. As a lawyer who was persecuting Christians, Minucius understood the empire and the religious establishment well. But he soon caught the contagion of love. Here's what he had to say about Christians before his conversion in AD 200: "They despise temples as if they were tombs. They despise titles of honor and the purple robe of high government office though hardly able themselves to cover their nakedness...They love one another before being acquainted. They practice a cult of lust, calling one another brother and sister indiscriminately.

And here's what he said after his conversion: "Why do they have no altars, no temples, no images?...What temple shall I build him [God] when the whole world, the work of his hands, cannot contain him? Should we not rather make a sanctuary for him in our souls? The whole heaven and the whole earth and all things beyond the confines of the world are filled with God...I would almost say: we live with him. What a beautiful sight it is for God when a Christian mocks the clatter of the tools of death and the horror of the executioner; when he defends and upholds his liberty in the face of kings and princes, obeying God alone to whom he belongs. Among us, boys and frail women laugh to scorn torture and the gallows cross and all the other horrors of execution" (Eberhard Arnold, ed., The Early Christians: In Their Own Words [Farmington, PA: Plough, 1998]).


Anonymous said...

Great post, Becca! A lot to think about, and none of it bad. Wouldn't it be awesome if we ALL thought in this manner? I had just gotten back from church, and I swear to you that the homily (sermon) today tied RIGHT into what you wrote.

Anna said...

Hi Becca,

Brian and I both read Irrisistible Revolution. I have to be honest, I did not like the book. I have nothing against helping the poor but, I could not get around his sarcastic attitude.

My biggest problem is who Mr. Claiborne chooses to associate with. He has teamed up with Tony Campolo. I watched an interview with Mr.Campolo around election time. In this interview he was promoting his newest book Red Letter Christians and urging Christians to help homosexuals gain the right to marry. I do not agree with this line of thinking. Do I hate homosexuals? No. But, I don't feel this line of thinking aligns with the Bible. How can I encourage this lifestyle knowing that it sin and will condemn someone to hell?

I wanted to like the book but I just didn't. My spirit was not at peace the entire time I read it.

You stated in your post that you have decided to give things to individuals instead of the Salvation Army or Goodwill. I don't think we should disregard these organizations just because of Mr. Claibornes book. I was raised on a dairy farm. During the 80's when I was a little girl farmers were hurting very bad. My mother worked a few hours a week at a local food pantry. I can't remember if it was the Salvation Army or not I was only about 9 years old. But, I do remember they paid my mother in groceries. Groceries we needed desperately. These organizations do help families.

Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend!