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Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken World Paperback – April 26, 2016
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"From the manger to the cross, Jesus announced the ultimate subversion of power -- the last will be first, the first will be last... the mighty will be cast from their thrones and the lowly lifted up. This book is about that Jesus -- the holy troublemaker, the revolutionary Messiah. Craig dares you to join Jesus in the trenches, and to reorient your life around the upside-down kingdom of God. What you have here is nothing short of an invitation to join the revolution of the subversive Savior who was born a refugee in the manger and executed as a rebel on the cross."
~ Shane Claiborne, Founder of The Simple Way, and Author of Irresistible Revolution and Executing Grace
"This book is a wonderful example of the more honest reading and following of Jesus that is invading all of our churches today. It seems many have come to recognize that the 'churchified' and pious Jesus many of us grew up with had little to do with the man and ministry revealed in the Gospels."
~ Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Author and Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation
~ Ken Shigematsu, Pastor of Tenth Church, Vancouver, B.C and Author of the international bestseller God in My Everything
"After a lifetime of living among and working alongside some of the poorest people in the world, Craig Greenfield knows a thing or two about the upside-down nature of the kingdom of God. The subversive Jesus comes riding a donkey, carrying a towel, welcoming children, feeding the hungry, and serving the least. And Craig knows him, really knows him."
~ Michael Frost, Author of Jesus the Fool
"Craig Greenfield is a prophet of hope calling for an urgent return to embody the subversive memory of Jesus. Craig's fresh take on old stories are brought to life with new stories of solidarity in friendship.Craig writes with a keen nuance for the substance behind our religious rhetoric, getting to the heart of the issues by showing us the way to live and love in a world of wounds."
~ Christopher L. Heuertz, Founding Partner of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism and Author of Unexpected Gifts:Discovering the Way of Community
"Craig Greenfield's Subversive Jesus marks him as a provocative modern-day John the Baptist-- preparing the way for Jesus' radical call to be heard and heeded afresh. This prophetic treatise is full of honest,oft-humorous and compelling stories straight out of the trenches of the Greenfield family's lifetime of celebrating and suffering alongside society's least. You will find deep practical wisdom in these pages born of vast,hands-on experience that speaks to the breadth of human life-- from what hospitality and child-raising looks like amongst the homeless to how to challenge injustice on cruise ships. This must-read refreshes and inspires, re-introducing Jesus as the life-giving, subversive, trouble-making friend of sinners that he was and still is."
About the Author
Craig is the founder and director of Alongsiders International (alongsiders.org) - a fast-growing movement mobilizing and equipping thousands of young Christians in the developing world to walk alongside those who walk alone - orphans and vulnerable children in their own communities.
During more than 15 years living and ministering in slums and inner cities in Asia and North America, Craig has established a number of initiatives to care for vulnerable kids and orphans, as well as formed Christian communities for those marginalized by society.
For 8 years, Craig served as the International Coordinator of Servants, a ministry within the slums of Asia. His postgraduate research in International Development led to the publication of his first book, The Urban Halo: a story of hope for orphans of the poor. Craig's second book, Subversive Jesus, will be published by Zondervan in 2016.
For more info visit Craig's website: craiggreenfield.com
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NOT my thing.
And, until a few weeks ago, I had no idea who Craig Greenfield was. Late this winter, I stumbled across his name via social media, followed scattered virtual crumbs back to his blog, and, over the course of several weeks, kept ruminating about things he'd written.
Then, about a week ago, we were in Vancouver, BC where, as a family--and thanks to a sudden bus transportation problem, we experienced the "kids on the block" phenomenon that Greenfield describes in "Subversive Jesus." I don't want to give too much away about what KOTB means precisely (read the book), but suffice it to say that it was a deeply moving encounter. Afterward we went back to the hotel and, strangely, among the first things I saw in my social media feed was mention of this same book. A few more virtual breadcrumbs followed and I discover that we'd been in one of the two "neighborhoods" in which the author and his family have chosen to live/work/pray.
Awed by the coincidence, I broke down and bought the book. It arrived from Amazon the first day it came out. I, again someone who doesn't read this genre, devoured it. Every word. Wow. And whoa. Straight-forward, inspiring, eye-opening... good stuff.
What I most appreciate is that while Greenfield pushes back on certain aspects of mainline Christianity while extending the invitation made long ago for us to "love one another," he doesn't push too hard for readers to chuck everything and move across town, either. It's encouraged, sure, that's where he's found his "flow," but he grasps that there are needy folks everywhere. Late in the book he encourages us to address the needs of the "least among us" in the spirit of collaboration *wherever* we may be.
That message is one that ultimately should resonate with any human--self-identifying/professing Christian or not. Just read it.
What he says is just spot-on.
I finished reading Subversive Jesus: an adventure in justice, mercy & faithfulness in a broken world, and am still digesting it. Usually, I would not stray into anything controversial, but this book, to start with its title, captivated my attention. I knew a bit about the author and his message from an earlier book (Urban Halo- Hope for the poor), so it felt safe enough to enter into potential controversy. In the end, it is a rather liberating journey of better understanding the “subversive” in Subversive Jesus. Subversiveness, like in seeking or intending to turn upside down an established system or institution appears to be quite central to the Good News – as Craig notes in his blog: “Jesus’ stated mission was to bring an upside-down Kingdom that would be good news for the poor and oppressed (Lk 4:18). This Kingdom was not just a place to chill out in heaven, after we die - but something that would come on earth as well (Mt 6:10).”
If you are intrigued by Dom Helder Camara’s saying on sainthood versus communism (“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist”), then this book is for you. If you are prepared when asking “What Would Jesus Do?(WWJD)” that part of the answer is “Flipping over tables and chasing with a whip”; then this book is for you. The book will also broaden your insights into concepts about charity and justice- charity as in crumbs on the table; and justice as in overturning the table and rebuilding together.
Consider for a moment WWWSTJ instead of WWJD: What Would We Say To Jesus if he would come back today in our city, in our church: are we sure we understand completely how He would be and interact with us and our society? Or would we find him radical, controversial, trouble making, because questioning the status quo and because questioning the religious and societal establishment? The author also allows observing his and his family’s life, and the radical choices they make, in pursuit of love for the poor and pursuit of justice by following Jesus.
“Subversive Jesus” challenges my mind and heart. To the mind- it challenges some traditional views on who Christ is, and therefor what Christ-ians are called to be and do. It also challenges conceptions about charity and mission, and pro-poor strategies (like, actually they should be with-the-poor strategies). Challenging to the heart, because it drives home the message from Mathew 19: 16-22. Subversive Jesus shows us a much more radical Jesus, calling for radical life choices. It talks about love and justice, and how this leads not only to harmony but also requires revolution – real sweat and tears revolution – not armchair revolution. Jesus says “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mat.19:21) Where am I storing treasures? How consistent and radical am I following? This kind of life (and death!)-orienting question disturbingly boomerangs out of this book into my heart.
“Subversive Jesus” does not hide uncomfortable truths leading to radical choices. It leaves me a bit overwhelmed – even if I think to have made constant choices that allow me to be meaningful to poor and un(der)reached people, the example of Craig and Nay is ‘incarnational’ and at a very high standard. At the same time, it energizes me and is bringing another dimension in my relationship with Jesus. Before I got to know Him as Son of God, Jesus was a hero to me, in line with the Che Guevara and Patrice Lumumba’s. Over time this radical side of Jesus became overshadowed with a mellower version. So, after reading this book, I am re-adjusting and finding back the more Marvel side of Jesus. I hope it will inspire me to better and consistent Kingdom choices, and I hope it will inspire you, too.