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The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical Paperback – January 31, 2006
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Starred Review. If there is such a thing as a disarming radical, 30-year-old Claiborne is it. A former Tennessee Methodist and born-again, high school prom king, Claiborne is now a founding member of one of a growing number of radical faith communities. His is called the Simple Way, located in a destitute neighborhood of Philadelphia. It is a house of young believers, some single, some married, who live among the poor and homeless. They call themselves "ordinary radicals" because they attempt to live like Christ and the earliest converts to Christianity, ignoring social status and unencumbered by material comforts. Claiborne's chatty and compelling narrative is magnetic—his stories (from galvanizing a student movement that saved a group of homeless families from eviction to reaching Mother Teresa herself from a dorm phone at 2 a.m.) draw the reader in with humor and intimacy, only to turn the most common ways of practicing religion upside down. He somehow skewers the insulation of suburban living and the hypocrisy of wealthy churches without any self-righteous finger pointing. "The world," he says, "cannot afford the American dream." Claiborne's conviction, personal experience and description of others like him are a clarion call to rethink the meaning of church, conversion and Christianity; no reader will go away unshaken. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* From dressing the wounds of lepers in Calcutta to living among the homeless in Philadelphia to visiting families in Iraq, social activist Claiborne strives to live an authentic Christian life. In his view, he is a radical in the truest sense of the word, returning to the roots of Christianity by living as Jesus did and doing "small things with great love." A partner-founder of the Philadelphia-based faith community Simple Way, he presents an evangelical Christianity gentler and more inclusive than is usually seen, especially in the mass media. He describes Simple Way as a new culture that relies on radical interdependence and consists of grassroots organizations, intentional communities, and hospitality houses. Although the book isn't an autobiography, in it Claiborne reports much about his life: growing up in the Bible Belt, becoming a Jesus freak, moving to Philadelphia despite his family's misgivings, and helping the homeless there. Then he boldly requested an internship with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. She simply responded, "Come." Besides illuminating his own faith journey, Claiborne is insightful on the huge U.S. cultural and economic divide: the problem isn't that wealthy Christians don't care about the poor, he says, it's that they simply don't know the poor. A moving, often humorous account of a life of faith lived to the fullest. June Sawyers
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If you plan to purchase this I would advise you get the 10th anniversary Edition since some of the sites listed in this book no longer exist. Plus you can pick up the newer book for about the same price though it is not as "cool looking".
For those of us so disaffected, disappointed in, and so hurt by church, he comes alongside our doubts and faith earthquakes with radical challenges to actually live out the red letters in the Bible. Focusing attention and imitation off himself and unto Jesus, he calls into question how we "do" Christianity rather than "being" the church. His simple repetition of the question; "What if we really lived out the words of Jesus?" will haunt you and stir a revolution in your heart.
"God comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable" he quips, and it is Shane's walking the talk and his disarming way of questioning the status quo that will make this a dangerous read for anyone. I gave it to my "secular" friend who just got out an abusive relationship. She is open God's gentle care and healing and wanted to know "Where are these Christians?" She hasn't been in a church in decades. All the "Christians" she knows hate gays and are so judgmental. Yes- where are the believers who would throw a birthday party for a prostitute at 2am? I want to join them and live the "abundant life" here and now bringing the upside down kingdom to a broken and bleeding world. Shane gives me courage and hope.