Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicalsby Shane Claiborne, Chris Haw
In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves
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Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people “set apart” from this world.
In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves together words and images to sing (rather than dictate) its message. It is a collaboration of Shane Claiborne’s writing and stories, Chris Haw’s reflections and research, and Chico Fajardo-Heflin’s art and design. Drawing upon the work of biblical theologians, the lessons of church history, and the examples of modern-day saints and ordinary radicals, Jesus for President stirs the imagination of what the Church could look like if it placed its faith in Jesus instead of Caesar.
A fresh look at Christianity and empire, Jesus for President transcends questions of “Should I vote or not?” and “Which candidate?” by thinking creatively about the fundamental issues of faith and allegiance. It’s written for those who seek to follow Jesus, rediscover the spirit of the early church, and incarnate the kingdom of God.
Here is the must-read election-year book for Christian Americans. What should Christians do when allegiances to the state clash with personal faith? Haw and Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution) slice through politics as usual and well past the superficial layers of the culture wars with their lucid exploration of how Christians can and should relate to presidents and kings, empire and government. Their entertaining yet provocative tour of the Bible's social and economic order makes even the most abstruse Levitical laws come alive for our era. They also provide a valuable political context for Christ's life, reminding readers that Jesus did not preach the need to put God back into government-he urged his followers to live by a different set of rules altogether, to hold themselves apart as peculiar people. The compelling writing is enhanced by a lavish, eye-popping layout. The pages are a riot of textured callouts, colors, photos and fonts-the perfect packaging for a message that must compete in a world of sound bites. With this second book, Claiborne emerges as an affable, intelligent, humorous prophet of his generation, calling people out of business-as-usual in a corrupt world and back to the radically different social order of the biblical God. (Mar.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
"Here is the must-read election-year book for Christian Americans. What should Christians do when allegiances to the state clash with personal faith? Haw and Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution) slice through politics as usual and well past the superficial layers of the culture wars with their lucid exploration of how Christians can and should relate to presidents and kings, empire and government. Their entertaining yet provocative tour of the Bible's social and economic order makes even the most abstruse Levitical laws come alive for our era. They also provide a valuable political context for Christ's life, reminding readers that Jesus did not preach the need to put God back into government -- he urged his followers to live by a different set of rules altogether, to hold themselves apart as peculiar people. The compelling writing is enhanced by a lavish, eye-popping layout. The pages are a riot of textured callouts, colors, photos, and fonts -- the perfect packaging for a message that must compete in a world of sound bites. With this second book, Claiborne emerges as an affable, intelligent, humorous prophet of his generation, calling people out of business-as-usual in a corrupt world and back to the radically different social order of the biblical God."
Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical) and Haw, a graduate student of theology at Villanova University, here lay out an action theology in which Jesus commissions his disciples to become, collectively, a new humanity filled with a contagious love that spreads to communities, nations, and the world with grace. In following him, his disciples partake of his "cup" and will possibly die as sheep among wolves. The authors describe an action theology that boldly confronts social injustice, violence, and war with weapons of grace, sharing, peacemaking, and acts of love, substantiating their position with examples from both the Old and the New Testaments. "Like Abraham and Sarah," they write, "disciples would be a humanity born again in a dysfunctional world...to infect nations with grace." The book ends by illustrating the outworking of this action theology both in history and especially in our present day. Examples include Martin Luther King, war protesters, and "new monasticism" communities such as inner-city Philadelphia's The Simple Way, of which Claiborne is a founding member. This is a good read even if you personally question the theology, idealism, or practicality it espouses. Recommended for large libraries.
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Read an ExcerptJesus for President Politics for Ordinary Radicals
By Shane Claiborne Chris Haw Zondervan Copyright © 2008 The Simple Way
All right reserved.
Chapter One This book is a project in renewing the imagination of the church in the United States and of those who would seek to know Jesus. We are seeing more and more that the church has fallen in love with the state and that this love affair is killing the church's imagination. The powerful benefits and temptations of running the world's largest superpower have bent the church's identity. Having power at its fingertips, the church often finds "guiding the course of history" a more alluring goal than following the crucified Christ. Too often the patriotic values of pride and strength triumph over the spiritual virtues of humility, gentleness, and sacrificial love.
We in the church are schizophrenic: we want to be good Christians, but deep down we trust that only the power of the state and its militaries and markets can really make a difference in the world. And so we're hardly able to distinguish between what's American and what's Christian. As a result, power corrupts the church and its goals and practices. When Jesus said, "You cannot serve two masters," he meant that in serving one, you destroy your relationship to the other. Or as our brother and fellow activist Tony Campolo puts it, "Mixing the church and state is like mixing ice cream with cow manure. It may not do much to the manure, but it sure messes up the ice cream." As Jesus warned, what good is it to gain the whole world if we lose our soul?
So what we need is an exploration of the Bible's political imagination, a renovated Christian politics, a new set of hopes, goals, and practices. We believe the growing number of Christians who are transcending the rhetoric of lifeless presidential debates is a sign of this renovation. Amid all the buzz, we are ready to turn off our TVs, pick up our Bibles, and reimagine the world.
Over the last several years, the Christian relation to the state has become more dubious. The most prevalent example is the Christian language coming from the State Department of the United States. Professing Christians have been at the helm of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, implicitly or explicitly referencing faith in God as part of their leadership. Patriotic pastors insist that America is a Christian nation without questioning the places in distant and recent history where America has not looked like Christ. Rather than placing our hope in a transnational church that embodies God's kingdom, we assume America is God's hope for the world, even when it doesn't look like Christ. Dozens of soldiers who have contacted us confess a paralyzing identity crisis as they feel the collision of their allegiances. At the same time, many Christians are questioning whether God is blessing these wars and whether it's enough for our money to say "In God We Trust" while the daily reality of the global economy seems out of sync with God's concern for the poor.
We hope this book will broaden the definition of political. As you'll find in the following pages, political doesn't refer merely to legislation, parties, and governments. So while we will insist that the Christian faith be political, we also want to redefine what political means or looks like. We hope to redefine it simply as how we relate to the world.
This book doesn't presume to blaze new trails of scholarship. Also, readers hoping to find an exhaustive political account of every book in the Bible will feel we paint with too broad a brush. Rather, as we seek to understand Jesus, we'll attempt to distill the work of scholars and ordinary saints into an accessible read (while having a little fun along the way). The scholars we will cite have busied themselves for generations with finding the truest theological and historical nuances about Jesus. We are grateful for their work and hope to anchor it in poetry, real life, and images in a way that invites us into the story of the most creative king who ever lived.
We begin in the Hebrew Scriptures, since this is where Jesus' story begins. While we may be tempted to jump to the good news and just write about Jesus, we must hear the Story from which he came and anchor his language, politics, and actions in that world. Just as America's narrative did not begin with America and will not end with America, Jesus' story did not begin in Matthew, nor does it end in Revelation.
Excerpted from Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne Chris Haw Copyright © 2008 by The Simple Way. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Shane Claiborne is an activist, author of Jesus for President, coauthor of Common Prayer, and is a founder of The Simple Way, a community in inner-city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world.
Chris Haw, an aspiring potter, carpenter, painter, and theologian, lives in Camden, NJ, with his wife, Cassie, and his fellow community members.
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Jesus for President is amazing! It really goes straight to the heart of what Jesus was and is all about. This book is refreshing, inspiring, engaging, transforming - it brings you back to the core message of Jesus Christ. This book went way beyond any expectations I had and is one of the best books I have ever read. And lets not forget the incredible artwork on every page - that's just a bonus!!
This book begins with a stunningly visual design that continues to enhance the reading experience throughout. The first half of the book uses words and images to re-present the biblical narrative in an easy to understand and unified style (instead of disjointed individual bible stories). The second half carries on the theme but explores how radicals have shaped history and continue to do so. At times the things Shane has to say are difficult and penetrating. But this has more to do with our cultural views of God than anything else. It is unfortunate that we as a culture have confused our politics with our theology. Shane and Chris's point, and its a good one, is that we need to adjust our lives to match our theology, NOT adjust our theology to match our way of life. Or as I once heard Shane say "are you smoking what your selling?" Cry out when you read this book, let it challenge the way you think about things. Ponder and pray about what you should do that you're not already doing. And then buy a copy for a friend and invite them on the journey with you.
Instead of just calling people to reject the model of the institutional church, the authors provide a broad insight into the call of Christ and offer suggestions of how Christ's call can be lived out in an alternative life style, much as did the first Pentecostal church of Acts 2. Listening to it as I drive...over and over...has provided countless opportunities to envision a radical, obedient walk that will bless the Lord, through blessing our world.
The book that I read for this assignment was Jesus for President. This book was written by Shane Claiborne. And the book Jesus for president is 355 pages long. The first thing that you read when you open the book is the definition for church and the definition for state. I found this to be a very simple yet bold and strong intro for this book. The fact that the book starts out this way makes a strong statement about what the book is going to be talking about as well as gives the reader something to have fresh in their brain before they even start to read any of the text. The first section of the book is called before there were kings and presidents. The book starts out talking about creation and how God created the world, and then the book goes into famous stories in the bible such as Noah and the Ark, and the tower of Babel. Claiborne ties the stories to scripture as well as explains customs of the people of that time. The explanation that he gives is very beneficial and helpful to understanding the full meaning for the passages. He continues the section talking about prophets and how god intended for us to live and function. The second part of the book is called "A new kind of Commander in chief". And in this section he goes into great detail about the birth of Jesus and what the means to the world and the reaction that the world had. Its very interesting all of the historical background that he gives you because everyone has heard about the birth of Jesus and yet the history and cultural background that he gives you makes you see different things that you have never seen in a story that you have heard a million times. The third section of the book is called "When the empire got baptized". This section I found to be very interesting it's about living in a society that is already Christian. How do you live in a place that's already accepted Christ and how do you help others when you live in a place that is primarily Christian. The thing that I thought was the most interesting about this section was the way that is talked about Hippocrates and what that means in a society and how you are to weed them out. And the final section is called, "a peculiar party". This section is all about how today in America its is believed that all Christians should be Republican and how that is completely wrong. Not that all Christians should be Democrats but that God himself never aligned himself with a party and that he believed in things that both parties believed in. And more importantly we are t love others above all and that is the message that this book got out to love others no matter what their beliefs may be no matter what party they choose to align them selves with we are to love them because that is what Jesus would do.
'The Irresistible revolution' was a fantastic corrective to our mega-church culture. It made me feel like it was OK to call myself a Christian. I just read ¿Jesus for President,¿ as well. It does not have ¿a stridently pacifist stance¿ as some have claimed. In fact it has a stridently activist stance! There is nothing passive about the ¿holy mischief¿ Shane promotes. Don't make the mistake our culture makes of believing we must ether lay down and take it, or pick up a sword and ¿defend¿ ourselves. Jesus presents us with a third way...
Shane is definitely on one end of the spectrum. I was a little offended at times with his stark criticism of the United States. Realizing he is using some hyperbole in is writing and looking beyond his strong opinion will really awaken the reader to the broader point he is wanting to make.
How comforting that a couple of 30-year olds have it all figured out. Complete critique of how Christians should live (and not live) which flies in the face of thousands of years of Jewish and Christian history, the American Founding Fathers, and the vast majority of Christian thinkers for the past 2000 years. Will definitely appeal to the naive but well-meaning socially progressive Christian youth of today who will accept it all hook, line, and sinker. Having said this, it contains the best supporting graphic material in any book I have ever seen.