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Review: The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne

I recently finished reading Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical. I hope many of you have already heard the sad news about Shane and The Simple Way community that he started in Philadelphia - on June 21st a 7-alarm fire completely destroyed the community and several other homes in the area. You can visit The Simple Way's website to donate or see other ways to help rebuild.

Shane's book is a sort of autobiography, and a call to discipleship (and revolution?!). The style is very readable - it is a story, narrative. A quick read (although I managed to drag it out over a few months - but that's because I wasn't reading it, not because it took a long time to read!)

What's frustrating about this book:
  • I find Shane's logic sometimes over-simplistic. He tends to simplify the viewpoints of people he's referring to, identifying liberals and conservatives in ways I don't think do service to liberals or conservatives.
  • Shane uses the words "giggle," "bubbles," and "sidewalk chalk" more than I can bear. A lot more. I'm a cynic. I'm sarcastic. I can't take it. It's too much!
  • Shane writes of his journeying in much the same way that the apostle Paul writes of his. That's all I want to say about that.
What's good about this book:
  • Shane talks about and is part of the new monasticism movement. You can read about the principles of new monasticism here.
  • Primarily, and most importantly/overshadowing-any-flaws, Shane is clearly getting it done. Whatever else I think about the book, or how it is written, or his style, etc., what Shane is doing, so far as I can tell, is being an authentic disciple. He's actually doing that stuff Jesus talks about, and that's not something I feel I can claim for myself most days, from the comfort of my pastor's life and pretty parsonage. Shane's example is a challenge to me, and I like a good challenge.

I think the book is worth a read, because it certainly requires asking yourself how you actually are (or are not) responding to the call of discipleship of Jesus. And especially keep Shane and community in your thoughts as they work to recover from the fire.


Anonymous said…
I loved this post...especially as I read what you found frustrating!!
That's my girl!
karen said…
Thanks for posting this, kiddo. Shane was a student of one of my personal heroes, Tony Campolo (whom your mom & got to meet!) and I got to hear all about his work in Philly from Tony. I had no idea about the fire and as soon as fiscally possible plan on making a donation!
karen said…
that, of course, was suppose to read "whom your mom & I got to meet"!
Jeff Nelson said…
"Shane writes of his journeying in much the same way that the apostle Paul writes of his. That's all I want to say about that."

Heh. I get it.

Still, this is one of the most convicting books I've read in a while. Loved it.
Anonymous said…
I just finished, too, and I'm praying and keeping my eyes open for the little things that may be the start of something God has in mind. I'll be flipping through the pages in the next few days and writing about what I've underlined on my own blog.

I understand those things that annoyed you. You didn't mention all the gratuitous comments in brackets (but at least I did for ya).

Perhaps what I appreciated most is his insistence that it's all about love. I'm sure that varies. He admits he sometimes doesn't answer the door for that reason. But overall it's not another book calling forth performance or guilt, but it's about passion for a Lover who happens to be Jesus -- hanging out with poor people and other outsiders.

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