The Irresistible Revolution

Hello all. I’d like to take this opportunity to shamelessly plug Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution. If you’re wondering about how to follow Jesus in a real way, this book’s for you. If you can’t afford it, I might even buy it for you or give you mine. It’s been a while since a book captured me like this.

Shane is what some might call and “activist” or a “hippie.” Mostly, he’s just trying to figure out what love and discipleship really are and actually live them. I’m passionate about that first two and very bad at the last one. I hope that this changes.

One reflex I’ve always had to activists was to dismiss them and despise them, even as I found myself agreeing with much of what they had to say; even when it sounded a lot like Jesus. I was confused, but Claiborne, being a man of action, has experienced activist circles from the inside and gave voice to my stumbling blocks. I hope that this helps at least one person other than me. Here’s a few paragraphs:

Dumbfounded and outraged by the apathy of the church, I’ve at times gravitated toward circles of social dissenters, protesters, and activists. We’ve shouted at the system that was hurting so many of our friends, and we’ve yelled at the church to wake up. But I saw very little fruit from those days. My ripped jeans and punk rock hair made me feel pleasantly distant from the “filthy rotten system,” but I also found myself estranged from sincere folks who were polarized by the way we preached the truth.

I went to the rallies and marched in the streets. I got arrested for “nonviolent direct action” and “civil disobedience” over and over, losing count after around a dozen times. But 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 an aggressiveness and judgmentalism reminiscent of that which I had grown to despise in the church. I sat through meetings to plan rallies and marches where people argued and gossiped like the best church committee or trustee meeting, destroying one another in their fervor to build a better world. I handed out flyers to convert people to the movement and felt as coercive and detached as I did handing out Christian tracts at the mall.

Later, he adds the following:

Just as “believers” are a dime a dozen in the church, so are “activists” in social justice circles nowadays. But lovers are hard to come by. And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of–lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about. We are trying to raise up an army not simply of street activists but of lovers–a community of people who have fallen desperately in love with God and with suffering people, and who allow those relationships to disturb and transform them.

That’s just a taste of the book. It’s advocating a life of following Jesus, not a life about “issues.” Shane gets called “fundamentalist” by his activist friends and “Marxist” by his conservative friends. I like that, especially because he can actually call both of them friends. Read the book.

7 responses to “The Irresistible Revolution”

  1. yeah, shane claiborne is one tough guy to label. maybe its best to stop labelling people anyway.

    (ps. this book’ll mess you up).

  2. I need to learn to love the activists.

    The problem is I don’t think I can make any big difference in the world. But that doesn’t make any sense. Jesus basically changed 12 people who changed the world.


    (sound of Cam adding Shane’s book to my reading list)

  3. cam, i have a similar problem. i need to learn love for the conservatives. i went to a “young adults” gathering at a church, that will remain without name, this weekend and i had a really hard time of it. the activists, i can handle, but i need a real kick in the ass to love my “siblings in the church.”

    i can rant all day about complacency, money and north american culture in christianity, and forget to see the effects of the same in myself.

    anyways, just a confession.

    the irrestistible revolution is really good.

  4. good confession karin. God help me from being anyone that my brothers and sisters stumble over.

    and marcia: you’re welcome, and welcome here.

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