The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary RadicalThe Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
Shane Claiborne
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During college, a professor remarked, "Being a Christian is about choosing Jesus and deciding to do something incredibly daring with your life." Taking up that challenge, Shane's faith led him to dress the wounds of lepers with Mother Teresa, visit families in Iraq amidst bombings, and dump $10,000 on Wall Street to redistribute wealth. In The Irresistible Revolution, you'll be challenged by a radical Christianity passionate for peace, social justice, and alleviating the suffering found in the local neighborhood and distant reaches of the world. Live out your faith with little acts of radical love as you join the movement of God's Spirit into a broken world.
     

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Christianbook.com: You mention in the introduction to your book that it took you several years to write The Irresistible Revolution. Why did it take such a lengthy span of time?

Shane Claiborne: Well, I like writing within our rhythm of life. So I wrote one day a week hearing the street noise, having interruptions, you know, and so I did it kind of within that. I wasn't in any hurry. I’m not the kind of guy that goes by a pond and kicks a book out in a month. I love to do it just within the context of my life.


 
Christianbook.com: Considering the many books available today on Christian discipleship, could you briefly explain what led you to write The Irresistible Revolution?

Shane Claiborne: I have a lot of friends who say…Don't write unless you can not not write. I really love that John Allard Gilligar, he said they didn't write a book that wasn't commissioned and it sort of felt like that. We really discerned together that there really is something that the Spirit's up to. We want to be as shrewd as serpents but as innocent as doves in this, so we kinda discerned how to do it and that's why we're giving all the money to different groups that have created that story. You know, I think stories are very powerful so I just decided to write those up and I hope that they encourage other people to create their own stories of our faith. I think what we've done a lot of times with a lot of these books, and there's a lot of not so good books out there, but I think that the answer to bad theology is not no theology, but good theology. So I really enjoy entering into theology through stories; entering into political things and not being scared of those, but by doing them with a little grace and humor and that's what I've tried to do.

 
Christianbook.com: Do you believe many Christians today have misunderstood the meaning, or missed the point of discipleship?

Shane Claiborne: Surely, I think what we've done is that we've been obsessed with evangelism and we've made such an almost…John Perkins said that we've made and idol of evangelism, and I think by that what he means is we've just been really, really excited about leading people to Jesus as we should be but we haven't put as much attention into what it means to make followers and disciples. So we end up with a church full of believers and we know what we believe but we don't know how to live.


 

Christianbook.com: Do participants in the Simple Way have a particular denomination or tradition they identify with or is it a fairly diverse group?

Shane Claiborne: We just believe in the church being the body of Christ, so we connect with all the congregations in our neighborhood and those around the country and try to be there.


 

Christianbook.com: In The Irresistible Revolution you make the case for the Christian practice non-violence. For many this is a difficult teaching, especially considering the present state of global affairs. How would you respond to someone who would counter that in certain situations violence is justified? Moreover, how would you respond to an assertion that non-violence is impractical?

Shane Claiborne: Well first of all, this has been a journey for me. My dad was in Vietnam. I organized a Bush/Quayle campaign in ‘92. My politics has been evolving and I think that part of why people can identify with me. I had a guy who wrote me a letter and he said, "I am a gun-toting, pick-up truck driving redneck. And I read your book and I'm embarrassed that I love it!" So I think, what I try to do is create conversation. One of the best reviews of the book said I don't argue people into truth but I story people in. By that I think when people disagree, I would say, "Awesome!" Let's learn from each other, not be scared of disagreement, not immediately have our defenses go up.

I live with two folks right now in the community and one is in the military and the other one left the military because of his faith. So we're working that out with different folks and not telling everybody what they've got to do. I mean, there's a lot to be said. That's part of why we're writing a book right now, Jesus for President. It's got a section that's called The Amish for Homeland Security, and a lot of it's tongue and cheek. I think what we really need is political imagination, and we need people that are not just labelling themselves, "I'm a pacifist" in being anti-war or something but who are actively resisting violence as Jesus did. And it was with enemy love by joining suffering, and it was in humility and not arrogance. I think we have arrogance on all sides, and you have to have humility to learn from each other. It's a real gift, and if there's anything that I've learned from being with conservatives and liberals is that you can have all the right answers and still be mean to each other, and self righteous and all that.

I would say that there's a lot in Scripture that we still wrestle with; unresolved questions and things like, "How does the God of the Hebrew scriptures fit in? I think that's the beautiful thing about Jesus is he came to fulfill all that God...all that is mysterious so you don't even write God's name. It's the I AM God! Like he comes and embodies that in a way that we can wrap our hands around. That's what I love about Jesus. It's unmistakable to me what love looks like when it stares evil in the face. And we can see that on the cross, and it says forgive them for they don't know what they're doing. There's a lot more I would say that we could say on it. Even like the "eye for an eye" and "tooth for a tooth." I think we read these things and we haven't really done enough study in theology on it. People use things like that...these things that are clearly in the Hebrew scripture, but that was actually to make sure that we limited violence. If someone pokes your eye out, don't poke both their eyes out. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Break their arm; you can't break both their arms. It makes a lot more sense when you see Jesus, that he came to fulfill that law, so he says, "You've heard it said, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth," but I want to show you really what that looks like if your enemy hits you, love them.


 
Christianbook.com: Would you take a moment to share some of the authors, artists, or mentors who have been influential to the development of your own faith?

Shane Claiborne: Oh, boy, I have so many. I would say one of the most significant books I've read this year is…I loved Peculiar People by Rodney Clapp. I love reading the words of the early Christians, Early Christians in Their Own Words by Eberhard Arnold. Dorothy Day is a great inspiration to me. John Perkins, he's here too. He's a good friend. Let Justice Roll. His story, his life, his friendship has been just invaluable. He's very deserving…he's one of the most influential people.

As far as bands. I love bands that try to embody that peculiarness...that peculiarity. Like, Mewithoutyou, they run their bus off veggie oil. They live around the corner from me. Psalters, they do the same thing...those bands I love. There's a lot of bands I think that are trying to do things differently and not feed into us and market and celebrity culture. Derek Webb, he's a friend of mine. Another book I thought of The Myth of the Christian Nation, Greg Boyd's book…brilliant. That's definitely one of my top books this year. And Catholics, Bill Cavanaugh, great, great author, he wrote Torture in the Eucharist, an incredible book. It's incredibly thick and dense.


 

Christianbook.com: Cool. Well, thanks for taking the time to participate in this brief interview Shane.

Shane Claiborne: Cool, yeah, I'm glad to do it. Thank you for the opportunity.


 

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