Author urges looking to God, not government

by Luke Eldredge

Every seat was filled and the audience sat on the floor, stood in the back and filled the overflow room of the Weyerhaeuser Hall Robinson Teaching Theatre. Author and activist Shane Claiborne spoke to the overflowing audience of students, guests and faculty members on Oct. 17.

Claiborne has co-authored several books including “The Irresistible Revolution,” “Jesus for President” and “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers.” This October, Claiborne released his most recent book, “Red Letter Revolution.”

“Sometimes I open up one of his books with trepidation; I think, ‘Oh dear, I’m going to get convicted’,” said political science professor Kathryn Lee.

“Jesus for President” embodies the subject that Claiborne focused on in his lecture: how to live well as Christians in regard to politics and elections. Claiborne emphasized the need to look to God and ourselves to solve problems, not Washington D.C. He stated the need to vote, in a sense, every day, and to vote for Jesus.

“We need to embody the alternatives and not point to politicians to solve our problems,” Claiborne said.

At the same time, Claiborne did not dismiss voting. He stressed the need to vote in such way that would lead to a path that would further expand the Kingdom of God, and to be mindful of the power voting has as “damage control.”

“There’s a lot of danger around the election season to misplace our hope,” Claiborne said. “We’ve found the last great hope; it’s not America, it’s not Barack, it’s not Romney, it’s Jesus.”

Claiborne graduated from Eastern University in Philadelphia and attended Princeton Seminary for graduate work. He has spoken extensively in both the United States and globally, giving lectures in dozens of countries as well as academic seminars at universities such as Vanderbilt, Duke, Princeton and Harvard.

Claiborne’s ministry work ranges from three weeks in Baghdad as part of an Iraq peace team, to serving a mega-church congregation in Chicago, to working alongside Mother Teresa in India.

“One of the things I learned [in India] is the triumph of life over death,” Claiborne said. “I felt a deep sense of the power of resurrection.”

In 1998, Claiborne co-founded The Simple Way, a faith community made up of a half a dozen houses in central Philadelphia. The Simple Way’s goal is to “practice resurrection” by helping the needy, offering hospitality to strangers, sharing economic resources and leading lives that reflect an authentic faith.

“One of the things I think about Shane, in what he is doing, is making the invisible visible,” Lee said.

The Simple Way community seeks to remove their roots from the world and place them in peacemaking, social justice and Jesus.

“He’s just another human being, and what he does is so easily done by us,” sophomore Taylor Countryman said.

Claiborne said his goal is to start a conversation, to introduce an alternative way of living that uses imagination to change things and to encourage thought on how different the world would be if Jesus were president, what it would look like to be an “ordinary radical.”

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