Book Review: Jesus for President (Part 1)
Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw condemn the church's adulterous affair with political power.
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."

March 28, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 30 comments

Mary

October 06, 2008  8:22am

Straddle the fence and vote for Jesus!

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Jennifer

May 20, 2008  7:33pm

I have only started reading ths book and I find that many of the opposing reviews are true. I know I have probably just offended a lot of people, but here my out. The manipulation of Scripture to satisfy their own ideas and beliefs is prominent throughout. I encourage all of you to go back and look up every scripture reference and read it in it's entirety, not just want is quoted. Not only does Jesus for President encourage us to be set apart from the world, but also to be set apart from the church. What happens to the hand that is cut off from the Body? And just as the church is being accused of being to intertwined with politics, what exactly then is being done differently here? If you focus too much on seeing the enemy, the enemy is all you will see. Instead of accusing the Body of wrong doing, stop for a moment, and ask God to enable you to see the Body through His eyes. Because you are picking on His kids, you are insulting the Bride of Christ. None of us our perfect, and not one of us has it completely right. Yes, the church has fallen far away from the first, but instead of disembodying even more, it's time to come together and pray for the church and each other. And above all seek God for wisdom so that the next step you take is in accordance to His will and not your own and not influenced by anyone else.

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Bryce Wilson

April 04, 2008  10:52am

I would encourage everyone to read this book for themselves. Shane and Chris do a very good job of building their case for why they've come to the conclusions that they have. For the most part, they readily cite their sources/influences, without proof texting (as is the common way of doing it these days). Shane Claiborne's writing will sadly be received by the American Christian community with hostility in many places. Shane's breed of Christianity is very social and political, because that's exactly how he sees the person and ministry of Jesus. You'd be hard pressed to point a finger at Shane and call him a hypocrite, or just another writer. This guy practices what he preaches... regardless of whether you want to subscribe to the idea/picture of Jesus that he sees in the Bible, at least he actively seeks to imitate that. But like anyone worth listening to (including Jesus), Shane will probably be rejected by most because he believes in living by the cross instead of the flag... and that's a lot to ask of people... even Christians who have bought into the patriotism of America. the thesis of Jesus for President is to "stir the political imagination of Christians". And i think Shane and Chris accomplished their goal.

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sheerahkahn

April 03, 2008  12:06pm

"I was happily reading through all these arguments here and thinking about them and then two or three commenters began to use some weird thing: G-d. What the heck is that?" I find this interesting...apparently the editors of Ur are curious too if they allowed this question to be posted. "Are we suddenly afraid to use the word God, or isn't it allowed in these comments?" No, I use it because I talked to Jew's who found my usage of "G o d" to be...hmm, disrespectful to both the deity and to them. The alternate address is G-d, so I have grown use to using the address of G-d to show both my respect for both parties.

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Sara

April 02, 2008  4:54pm

sheerahkahn, I need to get your email address. Good stuff. The reason that there is fluff is because fluff sells – see Joel Osteen. Look at the mega-churches. People want to feel good, look good, and be seen doing it but without the commitment. They want comfy chairs, feel-good religion, catchy tunes, premium coffee, and plenty of Jesus junk that shows what they 'believe' so they don't have to actually say a word. Actually change a lifestyle? Think about what they're doing? Huh? No way! Why do you think that "faith" is flourishing in the States and dying in Europe? Because xtian companies know how to make a buck in marketing. It's trendy to be spiritual. (Be an xtian in a country where it isn't the majority religion and see how cool and easy it is.) Just because the pews are stuffed doesn't mean much is going on upstairs with most of the congregants. It's this behavior that the authors and others are trying to diverge from.

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Mike Crowl

April 02, 2008  3:20pm

I was happily reading through all these arguments here and thinking about them and then two or three commenters began to use some weird thing: G-d. What the heck is that? Are we suddenly afraid to use the word God, or isn't it allowed in these comments? Crikey.

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Leo

April 02, 2008  3:18pm

My apoligies - I should have been more clear. In this nation, there should be no reason ANYONE should need to go to a dumpster for food. We (the collective we) have been graced with an abundance in this nation - why cannot we fix this problem? As I said - both politics and the church have failed to help, to fix this, when acting separately...perhaps it is time for a combined effort. We work extensively overseas in missions and in aid to foreign countries - yet, seem to fail here. Why? How can we "fix" that? My tongue in cheek remarks were a poor attempt at sarcasm - to illustrate we seem more interested in the legal aspects of dumpster diving than in the fact someone would need to do this in order to eat...

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sheerahkahn

April 02, 2008  12:52pm

Hmm, it should be noted that the term dumpster diving came from the early 80's. Those who were involved in such activities were usually poorly paid people who dove for metals of any sort, glass, and plastics. Though the more lucrative aspect were metals...I remember brass going for .25/lb, and alumminum was selling roughly the same...sometimes less. Copper...copper was a gold mine...well, till people started tossing out their old PC boards, those became the new gold mine. Anyway, the reason people did it was because we needed money to make ends meet...to proud to beg, to proud to ask for hand outs, and it was a good way of earning a few extra coins to buy a box of mac and cheese, or a ba of rice...or if one struck it rich like someone I know, a few pounds of copper... he got to buy a pound or two of hamburger. Anyway, just thought I'd put some perspective on that issue.

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Leo

April 02, 2008  10:05am

Rev. Flipsen - Amen! We pastors need to dump the fluff and preach the STUFF of the Bible. Just finished study for tonight - Jehovah Mekadesh (Lev. 20:7-8) - God Who Sanctifies. We belong to and serve a Holy God, who desires that we emulate Him...not the world. God has directed us to live IN the world, so naturally there will be a blending/bluring of life and Word (and therefore, politics). Again I say - would that ALL decisions and works in the world by Christians be done with a Biblically based direction! Everyone has a world view - a filter they examine and interact in the world with. For some, it is reason. Others, power. For me and my house - it is the BIBLE! I am not stupid enough to believe that everything I do is Biblically based or grounded...were that so, we would be living in another millenium and not having this discussion. We still struggle, still make mistakes, sill wonder, still do the wrong things for the right reasons, the right things for the wrong reasons...but are we still GROWING? I hope and pray so. Earlier I pondered if the thougth of dumpster diving bothered others besides the "legal" aspect of it? I am still curious - we live in the most prosperous free nation in the world...and still have those who need...why it that? Politics has not "fixed" it...nor has the church. Perhaps it is time to unite the two, and see what happens...then maybe dumpster diving would be removed from ANY book, legal or essay.

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Rev: Joh Flipsen

April 01, 2008  9:48pm

As soon as we bring substance in our preaching and our books.Than we see people growing in their faith, one bookstore owner I warned for this if they keep onselling these kind of books they will go broke.And yes a few month's later they had to close a number of Thier Christian book stores.It is as the President of the Alliance Church International stepped down of his function as president.He literally said."We are selling a Jesus to cheap." What he ment to say is that there is to little substance in the sernons and in the Christian books.We need to bring some books which do have a theological depth.today this is the only way we sell Christ, people today are educated and we need to meet their needs.Greetings and prayerRev:John Flipsen.

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