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.
As you can tell, subtlety is not what Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw were aiming for when they co-wrote, Jesus for President. Apart from the provocative content - a mix of stories, biblical narrative, and political manifesto - even the look of the book provokes a reaction. The pages are filled with photography, artwork, doodles, and strange typesetting. Some will appreciate the book's creative format and others will find the style too different - not unlike the authors themselves.
For those unfamiliar with Claiborne and Haw, both are associated with what has been called the New Monasticism movement. Known for their emphasis on community, racial reconciliation, and peacemaking, many of these new monastics live and serve in what they call the "abandoned places of Empire."
Contradicting the popular image of monks as recluses, Claiborne seems to be everywhere these days. His first book, Irresistible Revolution, remains on Amazon's top 20 list of Christian Living books two years after publication. And in addition to regular speaking engagements, Claiborne and Haw are about to launch a nationwide tour in support of Jesus for President. In an evangelical subculture of bad suits and comb-overs on one end of the spectrum and techno-glitz on the other, you've got to wonder how these postmodern monks have found such a large audience. Jesus for President's combination of prophetic zeal and prankster's wit may be a clue.
The book is divided into four chapters, with the first two serving as a summary of the Scriptures, new monastic-style. A few tidbits:
-You can tell a true prophet because he or she will either get killed or get "a national holiday in their honor."
-Regarding Old Testament laws protecting strangers and aliens, "God would have some harsh things to say about laws prohibiting dumpster diving for food."
-Taking Jesus' yoke means we will be "liberated from the yoke of global capitalism [while] our sisters and brothers in Guatemala, Liberia, Iraq, and Sri Lanka will also be liberated."
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