Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bookworming: The Irresistible Revolution

The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, ***
A tale in the bible* relates the story of a rich man coming to Jesus and asking him how to attain eternal life. Jesus tells him to follow the commandments, and the man replies that he does. But the man keeps pushing, asking what else he must do. Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions, give his money to the poor, and come with Jesus as a follower. The man walked away saddened.

In The Irresistible Revolution, Claiborne advocates for a new kind of activism by the church, or as he would say, an old kind. He wants church people to form personal relationships with those they help, and focus their lives and work on doing so. By his own profession, he calls for a kind of monasticism that focuses outward rather than inward. A worthy read for Christians, if only because it is a very convicting one for the vast majority of church goers.

That said, the book didn't sit too well with me. Testimony about forming personal relationships is by its nature anecdotal. Many of the events in the book are things that happened, and can only happen, to a privileged college student. The actions he takes and life he advocates are indeed radical in today's society, and for those who find that calling, it must be a wonderful thing. But that life is not, can not, be for everyone. (How much better would the world be if it was? That's pretty much the point of the book.)

In the end, I put down the book feeling like the rich man in the bible story. I suspect that is exactly how I should feel, because the parallel is perhaps a little too accurate. And that is why I think Christians should read this book.

* This story is in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18

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