Considering the various circles I associate myself with, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've just begun to read Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution for the first time. I knew that I would love it, and I knew that I would hate it for challenging me so much. The book hasn't failed me yet. I really want to share passage I just read, in which Shane tries to answer the question people ask, "What is an average day?" in regard to his life at The Simple Way.
"We hang out with kids and help them with homework in our living room, and jump in open fire hydrants on hot summer days. We share food with folks who need it, and eat the beans and rice our neighbor Ms. Sunshine makes for us. Folks drop in all day to say hi, have a safe place to cry, or get some water or a blanket. Sometimes we turn people away, or play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who answers the door on tired days. We run a community store out of our house. We call it the Gathering, and neighbors can come in and fill a grocery bag with clothes for a dollar or find a couch, a bed, or a refrigerator. Sometimes people donate beautiful things for us to share with our neighbors; other times they donate their used toothbrushes.
"We reclaim abondoned lots and make gardens amid the concrete wreckage around us. We plant flowers inside old TV screens and computer monitors on our roof. We see our friends waste away from drug addiction, and on a good day, someone is set free. We see police scare people, and on a good day, we find an officer who will play wiffleball with his billy club. We rehab abandoned houses. And we mourn the two people who died in this property (where I am now writing). We try to make ugly things beautiful and to make murals. Instead of violence, we learn imagination and sharing. We share life with our neighbors and try to take care of each other. We hang out on the streets. We get fined for distributing food. We go to jail for sleeping under the stars. We win in court. We have friends in prison and on death row. We stand in the way of state-sanctioned execution and of the prison industrial complex.
"We have always called ourselves a tax-exempt 501c3 anti-profit organization. We wrestle to free ourselves from macrocharity and distant acts of charity that serve to legitimize apathetic lifestyle of good intentions but rob us of the gift of community. We visit rich people and have them visit us. We preach, prophesy, and dream together about how to awaken the church from her violent slumber. Sometimes we speak to change the world; other times we speak to keep the world from changing us. We are about ending poverty, not simply managing it. We give people fish. We teach them to fish. We tear down the walls that have been built up around the fish pond. And we figure who polluted it.
"We fight terrorism--the terrorism within each of us, the terrorism of corporate greed, of American consumerism, of war. We are not pacifist hippies but passionate lovers who abhor passivity and violence. We spend our lives actively resisting everything that destroygs life, whether that be terrorism or the war on terrorism. We try to make the world safe, knowing that the world will never be safe as long as millions live in poverty so the few can live as they wish. We believe in another way of life--the kingdom of God--which stands in opposition to the principalities, powers, and rulers of this dark world (Eph. 6:12)."
Inspiring. Challenging. Embarrassing (to my life).