Many of us find ourselves caught somewhere between unbelieving activists and inactive believers. We can write a check to feed starving children or hold signs in the streets and feel like we’ve made a difference without ever encountering the faces of the suffering masses. In this book, Shane Claiborne describes an authentic faith rooted in belief, action, and love, inviting us into a movement of the Spirit that begins inside each of us and extends into a broken world. Shane’s faith led him to dress the wounds of lepers with Mother Teresa, visit families in Iraq amidst bombings, and dump $10,000 in coins and bills on Wall Street to redistribute wealth. Shane lives out this revolution each day in his local neighborhood, an impoverished community in North Philadelphia, by living among the homeless, helping local kids with homework, and “practicing resurrection” in the forgotten places of our world.
Claiborne is the real thing, the guy who not only talks Jesus’ talk, but walks Jesus’ walk. He lives in intentional community and voluntary poverty, owning all goods in common, in the inner city of Philadelphia (not generally the place where you’ll find a skinny white boy from a nice, middle class Methodist family from Tennessee). He has traveled to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity and been to Iraq while the bombs were dropping. When Jesus said to the rich young man, sell all and follow me, Shane listened — and obeyed. His whole being is infused with the glorious madness of the Gospel, and he fairly glows with the absolute nature of his commitment.
And, now he’s written a book.
The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical is a stunning book, utterly compelling, part autobiography, part theological treatise. It’s also unbelievably accessible, and chockfull of the kind of passion and eloquence that can cause one to seriously ruminate over the nature of the life that he or she lives.
Shane defines an ordinary radical as someone who gets “down to the roots of what it means to be Christian disciples.” He goes on to clarify:
Most of the time…I think that if what we are doing seems radical, then that says more about the apathy of Western Christianity than about the true nature of our discipleship. And this is why “radical” has to be coupled with “ordinary.” Our way of life was typical in the days of the early Jesus movement. We are like the Marys and Marthas, and Peter’s family — houses of hospitality, which was the standard call of the early Christians, who abandoned their personal possessions to a new family. This is to say nothing of the countless others who gave up everything and left their homes with no money or food or even sandals to follow Jesus. Christendom seems very unprepared for people who take the gospel that seriously.