Well, this book by Claibourne has really challenged me on lots of fronts, with a number of themes – which I will be taking as individual items as the Claibourne’s challenge over the next weeks… And Yes – I will be buying a job lot of these too…
Claibourne Challenge 1: Living Like a Lover in Community
Although not raised as a Christian within the Evangelical Tradition, I recognise the themes of Shane’s experience of Church teaching you much about what to believe, but very little about how you should live. It is only recently, with Moot’s Rhythm of Life that I have really come to understand the need for deep community, and God’s call to aspiring to live in love to the world by practicising presence, creativity, hospitality, acceptance, balance and accountability. But Shane’s challenge goes further – how can we live as lovers of God, expressing love in all sorts of situations. Shane’s view is that new monasticism, and seeking to be an ordinary radical – where you have a love for social, economic and ecological justice – is not only desirable – but crucial to an understanding of real discipleship. Interestingly he is critical of some forms of emerging church that dumb down on the cost of discipleship – because in his view – choosing to be a Christian should stuff up your life – as just getting by and being individualistic and seeking money are together a life strategy that takes you away from real and rooted Christianity. So how we live is crucial – because we are Christian by how we live just as much as what we believe – particularly in how we express love as seeking social transformation.
I have been challenged by the way that I often don’t express love getting to work and interacting with people in public space. I have been challenged by Shane’s view that how we live in such situations is more important than what we believe – because in living this way – we open ourselves up to meeting Christ in the lives of ordinary people. I have again been challenged by his openness to Christianity and the cost of discipleship:
We wanted to live deliberately, to breathe deeply, and to suck the marrow out of life. We went to the ghetto. We narrowed our vision to this: love God, love people, and follow Jesus. And we began calling our little experiment the Simple Way In January 1997 Six of us moved into a little row house in Kensington, one of Pennsylvania’s poorest neighbourhoods… We hang out with kids and help them with homework in our living room, and jump in open hydrants on hot summer days. We share food with folks who need it, and eat the beans and rice our neighbour Ms Sunshine makes for us. Folks drop in all day to say Hi, have a safe space to cry, or get seom water or a blanket… We reclaim abandoned lots and make gardens amid concrete wreckage around us. We plant flowers inside old TV screens and computer monitors on our roof… 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 destroys life, whether that be terrorism or the war on terrorism…We have described the layers of our common life as an onion, at the core of which are the partners who covenant to love and cherish each other (the hardest and most beautiful thing we do), and each of us shares healthy responsbilities and expectations… We have created a statement of our practices, which range from simplicity and nonviolence to beauty and play.
It is my hunch, that God is calling us this way. We saw a glimpse of it through the playfulness of the Cabaret, and it is my hunch that God is challenging the Moot Community to live this way is some form – and to rethink its relationship – particularly to the poor. I will blog about that next, as I have been very challenged by this….