I read Claiborne's book last fall and here's the take that I had on it from my blog back then. It might be a jumping off point for some discussion on it.
Well, as I've mentioned, I finished The Irresistible Revolution this last weekend. And I will say at the outset that it's a very good read. I can't say I enjoyed it, because it's the type of reading that you don't really enjoy, because of a couple of reasons. 1) It makes me realize how big the task of caring for the poor and marginalized is. 2) It makes me realize how inadequate I really am to try and help with even a small corner of that task. More on that later though...
One of the most interesting things about this book is the stories that Shane Claiborne tells about his life so far. He went from organizing student protests for the homeless to deciding that he wanted to spend a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa (so he called her up and asked her if he could come; she answered and said yes). He then came back to the States and did a year long internship with Willow Creek Community Church, which was a huge culture shock for him. These stories are really interesting as is his perspective. One thing he talked about was trying to feel like the rich at Willow Creek were as in need of help as the lepers and those in extreme poverty that he interacted with Calcutta. But one thing he said that Mother Theresa said to look for was the poverty that everyone had, and he realized that the rich or well off had a poverty of relationship. They were lonely. That was very intriguing insight.
He quoted from Dorothy Day a lot and she had some interesting quotes. For instance, "When I fed the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they were poor, they called me a communist." Something else that Claiborne talked about was that people of privilege and middle class will often use charity as a buffer to keep from being around the poor. It's easier to give money to a cause than it is to actually be around those we claim to want to help. That was an extremely convicting idea.
Last Friday, when I first mentioned this book, Sam Davidson commented that Shane's life and theology were very consistent, meaning he really lives what he believes. He acts on his theology. I'm not sure I can really be the extraordinary radical that Shane and the community at the Simple Way in Philadelphia are, but maybe it's the goal to become an ordinary one.
btw, Carrie, did you ever find someone to scan your pictures in? If not, email me and we can talk about it.