The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical, by Shane Claiborne
This book was disappointing in a variety of ways. For one, it was disappointing on a simple level of writing, as the author’s memoir ends up being more about the author’s bogus political worldview than it is about an honest reflection of his life and some of his more dubious choices, like trying to appear as an evangelical even after abandoning a great deal of interest in personal morality, something that is only underscored by the execrable foreword by Jim Wallis that mocks any attempt at following God’s laws whatsoever or considering them as relevant for contemporary society. To the extent that this book is a memoir, it tends not to paint the author himself in a positive light, as being an “ordinary radical” is not something that anyone should aspire to be, and if they are viewed that way by others, should probably feel at least a bit ashamed of being rather than using it as a hook to attract people to bogus worldviews and wasted lives. If you see the book’s title and think that living as an ordinary radical is a good thing, or that leftist ideals are irresistible and right, you will probably like this book. As for me, I think that the author’s worldview is something that not only can be resisted and should be resisted, but is thankfully resisted by good and sensible people.
This book is more than 300 pages long and is divided into thirteen chapters with other material. The book begins with a foreword and is then followed by an introduction and an author’s note. After that comes chapters about when Christianity was safe (1), the author’s ideals about resurrecting church (2) as well as searching for a Christian that he could recognize (3). There is a discussion about his guilt for being a white person from a prosperous background (4), and his commitment to another way of life as an activist (5) as well as some blather about the economics of rebirth (6). There are chapters about what happens when kingdoms collide and one has to choose one’s allegiances (7) as well as comments about what Jesus supposedly made the author do (8) and the way that the author is particularly drawn to losers, being one himself (9). The author defends extremism for the sake of love, a terrible false dilemma (10) and also discusses how to make revolution irresistible as if he was involved in some sort of Maoist cell (11). He engages in paradoxical reasoning about being smaller to take over the world (12) and then closes the work with a praise of craziness (13) as well as appendices about local revolutions (i), a new monasticism (ii), and his experiences in Iraq (iii).
This book raises all kinds of questions about the life and behavior of the author, but none of the questions are good questions. How can the author be so deluded as to think that his particular brand of false Christianity is in fact remotely biblical? Why does He spite the generosity that He received by God in being born as an American and view it as something to be ashamed of? Why is the author unwilling to distinguish between those who suffer loss for the gain of the kingdom and those who suffer loss as a natural consequence of their wickedness or folly? Why does the author confuse trying to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of heaven with mere leftist political activism? Why is the author dishonest about his true commitment to leftist politics when attempting to communicate with people whose Christianity is properly not biased in that particular way? Why is the author attracted by a nonbiblical monasticism rather than the sort of godly family life that the Bible promotes? And on and on the questions come.