Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Irresistible Revolution

The Irresistible Revolutioun: Living Life As An Ordinary Radical
By: Shane Claiborne

I am not exactly sure how to describe this book.

Revolutionary? Probably.
Thought provoking? Definitely.
Life-Changing? Hopefully.

This is a book about a man who is trying to live his life as closely as Christ would have him live as possible. That means, to him, that he goes to Calcutta to serve with Mother Theresa. He goes to Iraq to serve the victims of the war. He opens up a "community" house in the ghettos of Philadelphia where the homeless and the lonely are welcome. He dedicates his life to serving the poor- and in this book he teaches us the things he has learned along the way.

I found that he eloquently expresses many of the things that I have always felt. For example, he takes on the Christian Right for not only turning Christianity into politics, but in boiling Christianity to two issues: sex and abortion, while ignoring so many other tenets of the life Christ lived. This is something that has always bothered me, and I am glad somebody finally spoke up against it.

That is not to say that Shane is a democrat. In fact, he despises the democrats just as much.  He calls himself "anti-politics" and on the 2004 ballot he wrote "Jesus" as the write-in candidate.

So this book is not about politics- though it is mentioned.

It is more a book about how we, as a society, have veered from the path that Christ would have us lead.

The book leaves you wondering not what it means to be Christian, but what it  means to be a follower of Christ- and whether or not we, as supposed Christians, are living up to that ideal.

He talked about a survey he took of several hundred Christians. He asked them if Christ walked with and helped the poor. 80% said yes. Later in the survey, he asked if they had actually walked with the poor and physically served the poor. Only 2% said yes.

He says we, as a society, have set up layers so we don't actually have to interact with the poor- we can donate our money to our charity and feel good about ourselves, but we don't actually come in contact with a homeless person to understand their circumstances and understand why they are in this situation. He insists that if we did, poverty would end as we would literally open up our coffers to help those in need- just as Jesus has asked us to do, but so many of us are unwilling to actually do.

He quotes Gandhi who said, "I like your Christ. But I do not like your Christians- they are so unlike your Christ."

Many of his thoughts are things I have thought for years, and it is refreshing to see somebody live his life in exact preciseness to how he felt Christ lived. He doesn't just talk the talk- he walks the walk.

I live in the suburbs with my spare bedrooms and extra mattresses while there are single mothers with children sleeping under bridges.

So now this book has left me wondering: What can I do to truly serve the poor? Not just donate money- but actually serve them face to face. To let them change me- to change my heart- so that I become a better disciple of Christ.

Finding the answer is my next quest.

(I should point out that I do not agree with everything he says- I do not agree with all of his Biblical interpretations, and I certainly do not agree that he is a prophet, as some of his followers do. But, the overall message I do agree with, and that is why I highly recommend this book)