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In the young Evangelical world, Shane Claiborne is a rock star. And this isn’t hyperbole; I witnessed it first-hand at last year’s National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego. After he spoke on a panel hosted by Krista and another solo lecture, throngs of people surrounded him asking for his autograph or seeking counsel. He’s infusing a new generation of Christians with hope and a sense of social service. It’s this enthusiasm and his way of living in a monastic community that compelled us to ask for his perspective on the current economic crisis.

He looks to the words of Jesus, describing them as fresh and an invitation, an opportunity, to hear them anew during these turbulent times. He looks to the model of early Christians, to Gandhi, to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to the nobility of the poor. In all of these cases, it’s community, he says, that perseveres no matter the economic state of society. After you listen, please leave us a comment about what you think.

We’ll keep releasing mp3s of our interviews via this blog, our podcast, and now on a Web site for Repossessing Virtue. And, please share your ideas about how this downturn has affected you in terms of personal conscience and values?

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6 Comments

What I hear in Shane Claiborne's words is that our connection to community, our involvement and participation in community, can give us a grounding, an experience that is far deeper and richer than our culture currently offers.

I am fascinated by some ideas about how we move into greater community with one another. Fear, necessity, and/or guilt are some ways that could take me there. I hope for myself that I enter a richer experience of community because being in community gives me the opportunity to be more of the person I am and use the gifts God has given me. While I hear a real integrity in Claiborne's experience of being in community, I know that I have to be suspicious of my own intent and desire to join in community. I can lose myself in my giving.

So a way for me to think about deepening my relationship with community (and manage the tensions between the individual and the collective) is to draw parallels between marriage and community. In his book Passionate Marriage David Schnarch talks about how intimacy in committed relationships gets deepened over time by alternating between a state of independence and a state of connection. This makes sense to me and is what I have found to be true about my relationship with my husband. After times of intense closeness I find it necessary to go off and be by myself, to get a hold of myself, to know myself more because I have been changed by that intimacy. I then return to the relationship ready for more.

I suspect that myself and other folks engaging with community more will also go through similar cycles. It does take having a hold of yourself in order to let yourself go and blur the boundaries, whether that be into a great intimate one on one relationship or into a community.

Well said. Jesus was all about community, however scripture shows us several examples where he disconnected from the crowds and the disciples. Our own community (friends, family, church) is good, but we must also at times find the time to disconnect from them. One of the greatest "Theological" verses ever spoken was "Calgon Take Me Away"-Calgon moments are good and they are much needed, and no they are not selfish.

Peace
Al R

I first head this man speak on your program while preparing for a the Ideals Rollo talk in Lutheran Cursillo. That program gave me a great example of the right direction and sense of humility I needed for my words to get across to the attendees and pilgrims. Every time I hear him speak, I can imagine how simple people felt in front of Jesus.

I first head this man speak on your program while preparing for the Ideals Rollo talk given in Lutheran Cursillo. That program gave me a great example of the right direction and sense of humility I needed for my words to get across to the attendees and pilgrims. Every time I hear him speak, I can imagine how simple people felt in front of Jesus. I stand in awe of such learning and wisdom in one so young.

Claiborne has a lot of good things to say. I do, however, think some of his conclusions (political and sociological) are immoral. The egalitarian, socialistic mantra he and others who tend to bend to the Christian left have been chanting at first seems a beautiful tune. However, history has shown us that socialistic political movements, whether practiced in the name of Christ or not, have been destructive and oppressive. Orthodox and Catholic Monastic communities are microcosms that work because monks realize they are there to fight the demons in their own lives and to pray without ceasing, not to save the world. Claiborne's "monasticism" sees itself as the way all Christians should live. In this very interview, he said that living the way Christians did in Acts was a way we can "end poverty". This conclusion, while a beautiful vision, is not workable with the kind of political structures Claiborne and his ilk put forth. I'm not sure if Claiborne would be more of a social anarchist or just a socialist, plain and simple.

I was surprised to hear that his conclusion, when asked what advice he would give the average person who has credit card debt and mortgage payments and such, was to despair of the American dream. Loving things too much is certainly the disease most Americans have, at the heart level. But the way to break the chains is not just to think better thoughts and have more love and compassion for those who have less. The answer, I think, is to get out of debt and never go back. Simplicity is an awesome message, but you've got to get out of the mindset our country has right now that real economic stability (an end to poverty, maybe) will come through borrowing and spending. We've got to get back to saving money, working harder, caring more for one another, giving versus lending, etc. Jesus for President is a pretty good book for understanding where Claiborne is coming from. I don't think all of his Biblical conclusions are sound, but he has a lot of really good points.

I enjoyed many of the points that Claiborne brought up, however I feel he misses the point Jesus spoke to about forsaking material things to follow him. Jesus never spoke about giving all your material goods away, but he did question where their heart was. Money is not evil, but the love of it is. I feel we would all (believers in Christ) do a lot better if we each examined our own hearts as scripture commands. And then, and only then would see things through God's eyes.

The life Shane has chosen to live is to be commended, but is it for everyone? No. And not to say he is pressing anyone to live according to his example, but he seems to boaderline line on "passive" legalism. He is convined everyone would be better off to follow his example. There are many believers living out their faith, in service to others, and some of them do it in three piece suits.

As Christ followers each of us are at different levels. As we grow in faith, that growth will produce good works, and through the Holy Spirit God will use us as he wills, and it won't always look the way someone wished it would.

How you worship, pray, give or not is up to you. Only God knows the heart, and only God can judge it.

Peace-Love-Blessings

apples