Book Review: Shane Claiborne “The Irresistible Revolution”

15 04 2013
"The Irresistible Revolution" By: Shane Claiborne

“The Irresistible Revolution” By: Shane Claiborne

What a truly moving, inspiring, spirit lifting, fire starting work this is.  Whew!  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?! Well, it is!

Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution, is somewhat of a biography/memoir/theological discourse/prophetic literature that will move the reader to action if they have a pulse.  Shane is as humble a servant of Christ as I have seen and truly lives by what he preaches.  In this book you will journey with Shane to India where he spends the summer working with Mother Teresa  in Calcutta, among the poorest of the poor, living in a leper colony.  You will join him in his struggle with the church and its many faults and how he comes to grips with it.  You will join him on a years internship at one of the biggest Mega-churches in the world, Willow Creek.  Claiborne then tries to discern where God is calling him next and how he can best follow Jesus and his teachings.  He decides with several other friends to open The Simple Way,  a house in downtown Philadelphia where they live among the hungry, the poor, and the homeless.  He shares of times that he slept on the sidewalks or in the parks in solidarity with the homeless.  He shares of many marches and protests that he has been a part of fighting for the poor and the hungry. He shares of being arrested for sleeping with and feeding the poor in a park in Philadelphia.  You will join him on a trip to Bagdad, Iraq just before the bombings of the Second Gulf War, in which he is peacefully protesting the use of violence.  He tells about hearing the bombs dropping around them and then visiting the hospitals and seeing the wounded children and innocent who were “collateral damage” and apologizing to them for his country’s actions.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Shane shares.

Even if you disagree with his stance on particular issues, it is very difficult not to take Shane and his faith seriously.  He is authentic and genuine.  He is also humble and does not present a ‘Holier than thou’ persona.  He is simply trying to live his life how Jesus lived his and how Jesus calls each of us to live.  Shane’s stories are simply him trying his hardest to love his neighbor, stand with the poor, the oppressed, the impoverished, and to love his enemies.

I found myself often saying, “YES! YES! Exactly!! Why doesn’t anybody else get this?!” And then the next page I’d be screaming, “NO!!!” because  I would feel the guilt and condemnation in my own heart of just picking and choosing to follow Jesus in ways that are easy or beneficial to me.

You will find yourself rejoicing in Claiborne’s work.

You will also feel very uncomfortable and convicted by Claiborne’s work.

Above all, Shane has a vision for the church and its role in the world today that is true to the Gospel and what Jesus has called us to do as his followers.  His vision is about as far away from what society and American culture tell us is our purpose in life, but so far, I’ve been extremely disappointed in what Society has taught and told us… and think maybe, just maybe, God’s way is the better way…

I fully recommend this book!!  Prepare for your heart to be opened and for your life to be changed if you read this book.

A link to buy the book if you wish: http://www.amazon.com/Irresistible-Revolution-Living-Ordinary-Radical/dp/0310266300/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366045631&sr=1-3&keywords=shane+claiborne





Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer

9 04 2013
bonhoeffer-ins1

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian, died 1945

Today, the church commemorates one of the most influencial theologians, pastors, martyrs in my life, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Bonhoeffer was a pastor, a teacher, and one the leaders of the Confessing Church in Germany.  The Confessing Church was a church body that broke away from the National German Lutheran Church when the Nazis Regime took control.  They would not allow Hitler to dictate how the Gospel would be preached nor would they pledge allegiance to anyone other than God.  Later, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his involvement in an assassination attempt on Hitler.  He spent over 2 years in prison and concentration camps and was hanged April 9, 1945.

His most common works are The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, Ethics, and Letters and Papers From Prison.  I took a religious ethics course on Dietrich Bonhoeffer in college and it had a profound impact on my faith.  His book, Life Together, should be required reading for every church council and his book, The Cost of Discipleship, should be required reading for every professed follower of Christ.

I would like to leave you with my favorite written work of Bonhoeffer’s.  It is a poem that he wrote while in prison towards the end of his life.  He is questioning his identity, his personhood, his authenticity.  People call him incredible, and amazing, and inspirational, and the light of Christ, but he feels in his heart that he is somebody different.

I think that, while he wrote this in such an extreme condition and his context is not ours, we can still relate to these words.  We still feel this pull of being both Saint and Sinner.  We still feel in our hearts the brokenness, loneliness, fear, and terror of life and death.  And yet we can trust in the promise that we are God’s.  That our identity is in God.  No matter what we think or what others tell us, we are children of God and God loves us.

WHO AM I?

Who am I?  They often tell me
I would step from my cell’s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I?  They often tell me
I would talk to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as though it were mine to command.

Who am I?  They also tell me
I would bear the days of misfortune
equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I know of myself,
restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I?  This or the other?
Am I on person today, and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I?  They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters and Papers From Prison