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.