I always have trouble picking the “next” book to read. It’s especially difficult after reading something like A Hope In the Unseen, where I feel as though I’ve fully invested in the people in the book. It usually takes me a couple days to figure out what to read next.
Luckily, at our house, we have a giant bookcase with books that range from prayer to politics and from cooking to the classics. As I was searching, I noticed that we had two copies of Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. Intrigued, I picked one of them up, sat down, and read the back cover. Stacey, reading herself, looked up and noticed, asking if I was planning on reading it. She said that she had read it and that some people loved it and others hated it and she was somewhere in between. I decided to give it a shot.
I’m about halfway through the book now, and it’s definitely made me think. A lot.
Mr. Claiborne challenges us “to live out an authentic Christian faith,” and invites us to rethink our way of living. He’s done just that for me.
Below is an excerpt that, in particular, forced me think about how and why poverty exists. Check it out (you can read the rest of the chapter here: Chapter 5: Another Way of Doing Life [PDF])
As we practice hospitality, there comes a point where the suffering around us drives us to ask what it would take to reimagine the world. We’ve all heard the saying, “Give someone a ﬁsh and they’ll eat for a day, but teach them to ﬁsh and they’ll eat for the rest of their life.” But our friend John Perkins challenges us to go farther. He says, “The problem is that nobody is asking who owns the pond.” As we consider economics, some of us will give people ﬁsh. Others will teach people to ﬁsh. But still others must be looking at who owns the pond and who polluted it, for these are also essential questions for our survival. We must storm the fence that has been built around the pond and make sure everyone can get to it, for there are enough ﬁsh for all of us.
A homeless mother once told us that there is a big difference between managing poverty and ending poverty. “Managing poverty is big business. Ending poverty is revolutionary.” Too often, the church has chaplained the corporate global economy, caring for the victims of the systems. As long as we uncritically manage the collateral damage of the market economy, the world can continue to produce victims. But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said during his age of injustice, “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” It’s like in community when the toilet ﬂoods, which happens when you have a dozen people sharing one toilet. When it starts to pour out water, you don’t just start cleaning up the mess. You also have to shut off the water that is causing the ﬂood…
…Dr. Martin Luther King put it like this: “We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside . . . but one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed. True compassion is more than ﬂinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.”
What do you think? Should we be repaving roads and stopping the floods? And, more importantly, how do we do it?