Shane Claiborne and the Irresistible Revolution

I recently read The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by
Shane Claiborne. It was a good read. He is a blatant pacifist, resister, radical, hippie, protester etc. – but is smart enough to know it and admit it, and doesn’t quite fit the box – I’m not really that type of person and those types (talk about generalizations!) sometimes turn me off, but he walked the edge well, and kept me reading… his story telling was great, and he has amazing experiences in Philadelphia, Calcutta and Iraq to share. Here’s some of what I highlighted as I went along – the quotes will be out of context, but may give you an idea of what he is talking about. Some very challenging stuff. I realize this is super long, but for those who don’t have time to read the whole book – here’s your chance to get some of the gist in about 10 minutes of reading! Blair and others who have read it, I’d be interested in what you thought of it… and Kim – sorry about the smaller font!

  • I lament the dreadful seduction which has resulted in Christians becoming so normal (p. 20)
  • I am… an ordinary radical who wants to get at the root of what it means to love. (p. 20)
  • The early evangelists announced another gospel, proclaimed and allegiance to another emperor, and conspired to build another kingdom. (p. 23)
  • A faith that has as much to say about this world as it does about the next. (p. 24)
  • A generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of. (p. 24)
  • Dualism has infected the church, a dualism in which 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. (p. 28)
  • I will spare you the years of wrestling with the tension between living authentically small and evangelically large. (p. 31)
  • Let’s not get stuck in guilt. Most good things begin with a little guilt, but they never end there. (p. 31)
  • I can remember when Christianity was still safe, comfortable, trendy…. church was a place where there were cute girls, free junk food, and cheap snowboarding trips. I discovered a Christianity that entertained me with quirky songs and Velcro walls. (p. 37)
  • I came to realize that preachers were telling me to lay my life at the foot of the cross and weren’t giving me anything to pick up. (p.38)
  • I had become a “believer,” but had no idea what it means to be a follower. People had taught me what Christians believe, but no one had told me how Christians live. (p. 38)
  • I developed a common illness that haunts Western Christianity. I call it spiritual bulimia… I had gorged myself on all the products of the Christian industrial complex but was spiritually starving to death. (p. 39)
  • I began to wonder if anybody still believed Jesus meant those things he said…. It was a shame Christians had become so normal… And then I met Jesus and he wrecked my life. The more I read the gospel, the more it messed me up, turning everything I believed in, valued, and hoped for upside down. I am still recovering from my conversion. (p. 41)
  • I was driven mostly by ideology and theology, which isn’t very sustainable, even if they’re true. I wondered if Jesus had anything to say about this world, and I began to question how much he cared whether I listened to Metallica… I felt like I was selling Jesus… like people’s salvation depended on how well I articulated things. But I wasn’t sure I was even selling them the real thing. (p. 45)
  • How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday? (p. 56)
  • I gave up Christianity in order to follow Jesus. (p. 71)
  • It looked like some time back we had stopped living Christianity and just started studying it. (p. 71)
  • It was the beginning of my years of struggling with the tension between efficiency and faithfulness… I learned the discipline of doing small things with great deliberation. (from Mother Teresa p. 78)
  • It wasn’t that Jesus healed a leper but that he touched a leper, because no one touched lepers. (p. 85)
  • According to Mother Teresa, it is among the wealthy that we can find the most terrible poverty of all – loneliness. (p. 93)
  • Sometimes I just got cynical. That was the easiest thing to feel, as cynicism takes very little energy. (p. 100)
  • Jesus never says to the poor, ‘Come find the church’. (p. 102)
  • The story is not so much about whether rich folks are welcome as it is about the nature of the kingdom of God, which has an ethic and economy diametrically opposed to those of the world. (p. 104)
  • We’re driven by a sincere longing for others to know God’s love and grace and to experience Christian community. And yet we can end up merely cheapening the very thing we want folks to experience. (p. 105)
  • God comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. (p. 107)
  • We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor. (p. 113)
  • We have not shown the world another way of doing life. Christians pretty much live like everybody else… I am convinced that Jesus came not just to prepare us to die but to teach us how to live. (p. 117)
  • We are the richest and most miserable people in the world. (p. 133)
  • Managing poverty is big business. Ending poverty is revolutionary. (p. 151)
  • Maybe each of us can relate this man – both his earnest desire to follow Jesus and, bound up in the materialism of our culture, his distorted execution of that desire. (p. 157)
  • When the church becomes a place of brokerage rather than an organic community, she ceases to be alive…. The church becomes a distribution center, a place where the poor come to get stuff and the rich come to dump stuff. (p. 159)
  • Simplicity is very popular these days… people write books on simplicity and make lots of money. It’s a weird thing. (p. 161)
  • It’s hard to figure out how to weigh lifestyle questions that can often entrench us in guilt and privilege…. rather than being bound up by how much stuff we need to buy, we can get enslaved to how simply we must live. (p. 162)
  • Simplicity is meaningful only inasmuch as it is grounded in love, authentic relationships, and interdependence… redistribution comes from community, not before community. (p. 163)
  • True generosity is measured not by how much we give away but by how much we have left. (p. 164)
  • People who experiment in sharing may being out of burden or guilt, but they are sustained by the matchless joy it brings. (p. 165)
  • There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed. (p. 170)
  • Both the health and wealthers and the penitent ascetics miss the deepest reality of these verses, which teach us a radically new economic vision. As we abandon our possessions and biological families we trust that others too are abandoning their possessions and families, and that there will be an abundance that begins now and lasts for eternity. (p. 176)
  • Starve mammon with your love. (p. 181)
  • That doesn’t mean rich people are excluded or not welcome. It means that it is nearly impossible for them to catch the vision of interdependent community, dependent on God and one another. Rich folks, while they may be spiritually starving for God and community, still believe the illusion that they are self sufficient autonomous individuals. (p. 182)
  • Violence is always rooted in a myopic sense of community. (p. 203)
  • The myth that violence can be an instrument for good. (p. 206)
  • There is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for (p. 207)
  • Too often we just do what makes sense to us and ask God to bless it. (p. 219)
  • These days, not many people stand before God with their knees knocking. (p. 228)
  • The gospel is good news for sick people and is disturbing for those who think they’ve got it all together. (p. 245)
  • Christianity can be built around isolation ourselves… creating a community of religious piety and moral purity. That’s the Christianity I grew up with. Christianity can also be built around joining with the broken sinners and evildoers of our world crying out to God, groaning for grace. That ‘s the Christianity I’ve fallen in love with. (p. 246)
  • If it is not born of relationships, if it is not liberating for the oppressed and the oppressors, if it is not marked by raw, passionate love, then it is the same old self-righteousness that does little more than flaunt our own purity by making the rest of the world see how dirty they are. (p. 253)
  • Never forget that you are beautiful, just like everyone else. And never forget that you are a fool, just like everyone else. (p. 256)
  • The only thing harder than hatred is love. The only thing harder than war is peace. The only thing that takes more work, tears and sweat than division is reconciliation. (p. 285)
  • My hopes for a perfect revolution were dashed by human imperfection. Among my activist friends, I began to feel a self-righteousness mirroring that of conservative Christianity. I felt and aggressiveness and judgementalism reminiscent of that which I had grown to despise in the church. (p. 291)
  • Most people are aware that something is wrong. The real question is, What are the alternatives. (p. 309)
  • I’m not sure the Christian gospel always draws a crowd… I’ve learned that a lot of good things start small and grow smaller. (p. 317)
  • If the devil can’t steal your soul, he’ll just keep you busy doing meaningless church work… Many congregations are in love with their mission and vision and rip one another apart in committee meetings trying to attain it. (p. 320)
  • We must resist the ancient temptation to centralize worship, especially at the expense of justice for the poor. (p. 323)
  • I did a ton of research on tithes and offerings in Scripture, and discovered they are unmistakably intended to be used for redistributing resources to the poor and not to go toward buildings and staff for the church. (!!!????) (p. 326)
  • The pervasive myth is that as we grow larger, we can do more good… my own research would suggest that as congregations grow in terms of staff and property, their giving to causes outside of operating expenses decreases dramatically, especially money given directly to the poor. (p. 328)
  • The more personal property is retained as private space, the more corporate property becomes a necessity…. the Scriptures consistently teach that the offering is God’s instrument of redistribution and that it belongs to the poor. Giving to the poor should not make it s way into the budget; it is the budget. Historically church offerings were part of God’s economy of redistribution, and over 90 percent was to be given to the poor. We live in an age when we have nearly reversed what God set in place. (p. 330-331)
  • Rather than our towers and temples reaching up to heaven, the God of heaven reaches down to earth and lives among us. (p. 340)
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