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5.0 out of 5 stars The gospel of Jesus - live from Philly, Baghdad and everywhere, May 23, 2012
This review is from: The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (Paperback)
The gospel of Jesus - live from Philly, Baghdad and everywhere

Shane Claiborne is an oddity in American Christian circles. He is the one who seriously tries to live as a Christian. And not as one who adheres to the national variety of Christianity - with its comfort-seeking, wealth-excusing, Republican overtones - but as the Jesus of the gospels taught, with its rejection of wealth, power and national policy.

Claiborne's stance is at once radically wise and desperately foolish, perhaps even by design. He is a like a living Godspell hippie - living in ruined buildings, near the poor, blowing bubbles with kids, holding street parties, occupying abandoned churches. In short, bringing into reality the gospel value of turning the values of empire on their heads. A lot of this can be infectiously fun. Moreso when it defeats the standard paradigms of church officials. There's nothing that brings home the corruption of the church than seeing a pack of its well-groomed apparatchiks toiling to bring down civil hell on a bunch of poor, homeless citizens trying to use a boarded-up church as a home.

At the beginning of the war in Iraq, Claiborne found himself in that country's capital on a Christian mission of peace. His presence as an American, braving his nation's shock and awe campaign, made him put his money (and life) where his mouth are: sharing danger with the world's poor and oppressed.

There's no way to fault Claiborne's bravery, his faith, nor the strength of his spirit. There are tragically few like him, for whom faith in the gospel trumps mere born-again status or membership in this or that sect. Claiborne can be faulted for being an idealist with no idea how to build a just world - just how to live with its marginalized in its ruins. That he has no plan for world domination may be a drawback. Perhaps it was Jesus's as well. We have seen the evil that his Church has wrought. It may well be up to others to craft a compassionate system that empowers more and more of the orld's poor and unjustly treated

But as long as there is corporate and nationalistic Christianity, flexing its muscle and morality around a benighted globe, there will be - peeking out from the ravaged tenements, weed-strewn fields and dirty-floored hovels - the party that Jesus called the Kingdom, in full swing, with Shane Claiborne in the middle of it all, blowing bubbles and having the time of his life.
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