A week before classes started I bought Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. It had been recommended to me by my great friend (who reads a lot more than me) Ross. Because I don’t have classes or papers over Christmas break I had made it a priority to read a book that I wanted to read instead of a textbook on theology. Not that I don’t enjoy learning out of the theology book…it is just different. So this begins a chapter by chapter look at Claiborne’s book. I have been inspired by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed in how I would do this.
I think most people would call this a book on social activism, which is something I haven’t been a huge fan of (it feels like the popular thing to talk about in Christianity these days), so I am going to keep an open mind to his thoughts. It is never bad to have my way of thinking challenged, so maybe this book will help shape my thinking and yours. Claiborne would not call it a social activism book. He says, “folks separate the spiritual from the political or social, as if the political and social issues were of no spiritual significance, and as if God had no better vision to offer this world.”
The first chapter, “When Christianity Was Still Safe,” is kind of an autobiography of his childhood through college. He seems to have a pretty normal Christian upbringing. He grew up with a Methodist background but in high school started going to a more charismatic nondenominational church as he describes it. In high school he did the Christian thing and started listening to only Christian music and only reading Christian books. He says, “I had gorged myself on all the products…but was spiritually starving to death.” I see him as a normal kid. He didn’t really enjoy church. He and all his friends would sit together and leave after the service had started and come back at the very end. “I recall thinking that if God was as boring as Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure I wanted anything to do with him.” His roommates in college first invited him to hang out with some homeless people in Philadelphia and slowly but surely it was this experience that changed his life. He ends the chapter with a Mother Theresa quote, “In the poor we meet Jesus in his most distressing disguises.” His experience with the homeless in Philly seems to set up much of the rest of the book.