Archive for October 28th, 2009

I just finished reading Jesus For President.

It’s not for me. As I have said, Claiborne has many important things to say, but I seriously doubt his theology of ‘let’s do all we can to get arrested all the time by making a public nuisance of ourselves by trespassing, interrupting the lives of others, and embarrassing themselves.’ I think that sort of contradicts Paul’s statement that we should ‘pray for kings, and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth‘ (not just the poor and disenfranchised; 1 Timothy 2:2).

It may be for some of you, and I’m glad for you. But I seriously, seriously doubt that Jesus’ main motivation was every merely political. I had a professor at Emmanuel School of Religion try to make the argument that Jesus was saying something political. To be sure, he did. But I also think it was more. And Jesus does not need to run for president, nor do we need to vote for him; He’s already King. (I’d appreciate the book far more, I’d still disagree with much of the theology, if they didn’t lean so far to the Left as if the Left has anything better to say than the Right.)

So, Irony:

A couple of years ago, two things happened. First, we won a lawsuit over police misconduct in New York City. The police had been arresting homeless people for sleeping in public, and charging them with disorderly conduct. Hundreds of folks rallied to bring attention to this situation, and many of us slept outside to express our feeling that it shouldn’t be a crime to sleep in public. I (Shane) was arrested one night as I slept. Through a long legal process, I was found not guilty, and then I filed a civil suit of wrongful arrest, wrongful prosecution, and police misconduct. And we won, in addition to a legal precedent, around ten thousand dollars. But we figured the money didn’t belong to me or to the Simple Way but to the homeless for all they endure. It was their victory.

The second thing that happened was that after our study of Biblical economics, we were given an anonymous gift of ten thousand dollars, money which had been invested in the stock market and now was being returned to the poor.

I don’t know. Something about all this strikes me as profoundly ironic. It’s like: We hate the system, but by God we are going to use (abuse?) it when we can. I don’t get it. I don’t think it is courageous. Nor do I think there is such a thing as ‘prophetic resistance to corporate interests’ pillaging of the rain forests’ in Brazil; nor does that make one a Biblical martyr.

Perhaps it will make some of you say, “You just don’t know Shane,” or “You read him wrongly,” or “Did you fall out of a stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down?” or worse. That’s fine. His is a way of reading Scripture that is nice, but leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe I need another of his books (more irony) to flesh out where he’s coming from. Maybe I need to visit him and have a tofu burger and some green tea. But for the time being, I need to mull it over and listen to you a little more.


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