Saturday, April 9, 2011

Follow Me to Freedom, or at least read the book

Just finished 'Follow Me to Freedom: Leading As an Ordinary Radical' by Shane Claiborne and John Perkins. Not gonna lie, I have struggled with Claiborne up until now. Growing up a deeply rooted Anglo-Catholic, I had a hard time understanding the need for a 'new monasticism,' when the old one had so much to offer by way of Christian example. Where were the Church Fathers and Mothers in the conversation? Plus, he smelled of hipster before hipster had a label. Dark-rimmed glasses, rough cloth get-up. But I'm starting to think that the labels with him don't come from him, but from people like me who want to know what to call him. Moreover, and especially through this book, I really came to appreciate his imagination and follow through for how the life of faith can be lived out in flesh and bones and cars and kumquats and community and things in the realm of touch and the tangible. He's not going to think himself into inaction.

I had read some of John Perkins before, too, and his train of thought loses me sometimes, but I appreciate the 'been there, lived that' honesty and humility that births the wisdom he offers.

With that in mind, I want to recommend the book, and also share some highlights that I scribbled around across the pages. Some of it is Captain Obvious type stuff, but a good reminder. Other stuff is less obvious, just as good. None of it, as I read over it, does justice to the book or the thoughts in context. But hopefully you'll read it, too, and tell me what I missed.

"If we cannot be reconciled with people that look different than we look, then what is reconciliation?" p 17

"[Their dependence on God] put the early Christians in a position where not only were they to practice hospitality, but they were also to be dependent upon receiving it. As one of the early Christians said, 'We have no house, but we have homes everywhere we go'...From that we can learn that vulnerability is a value, not a threat. It's something that good leaders know well: they need other people." p 36

"Good leaders and good followers interrupt each other, yet somehow pause to listen to each other too - and that is the key. Count on it." p 29

"'Unearned suffering is redemptive.' To me, that means, 'I haven't had the problem, but I'll go and suffer with you.'" p 32

"God did not make too many people or too little stuff." p37

"The Christian life is about surrounding ourselves with people we want to become." p 54

"God seems to have an aversion to power...not because people are a threat to Him, but because they are a threat to themselves." p 61

"You are as young as your dreams and as old as your cynicism...and I am younger than any of you." p 64 (quoting Tony Campolo)

An interviewer asked Mother Teresa:
"Is your work going to live after you?" She quietly and respectfully dismissed the question, saying, "That is of no concern to me." It was like she was saying, "That's God's business." p 67

"All great leaders have the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of the people in their time." p 73

"I know you're strong enough to do it alone, but are you strong enough to do it together?" p 85

"That is one of the key ways we discern God's will, by asking, "Does this - this community, this spouse, this leader - move me closer to Jesus?" Can I smell the fragrance of Christ on them? p 97

"I don't understand begging Christians to do God's work. I don't understand it at all. It's a contradiction. He created us and saved us so that we might be His workmanship. We are here to serve Him, not to use Him to serve us." p 121

"...we have over-evangelized the world too lightly. We've gotten a lot of people to have supposedly asked Jesus into their hearts, but they are not living with any gratitude. They've got Jesus working for them instead of them doing His work in the world." p 123

"Leadership is about protecting folks from themselves before they destroy themselves." p 132

MLK, JR:
"Throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our houses and threaten our children and we will still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory." p 141

"...anything worth doing is beyond our power to do alone. We cry out to God because we know we need help." p 158

"For some, 'I will pray for you' becomes a convenient excuse to not act. Real prayer is this: 'Lord, what would You have me to do?" p 194

"We cannot simultaneously love our enemies and prepare to kill them en masse." p 217

"It seems that 'emerging church' has become little more than a box where you can put anyone who is under 40 and has fresh ideas - and not have to listen to them." p 219

"Above all else I urge that there should be no murmuring in the community." St Benedict of Nursia, p 230

"'Issues'...that's how they're presented to my generation, and that's how we interact with them. We get to pick and choose what we want to get involved with - even going along with what might be trendy. After we've joined a Facebook group, forwarded an email or even taken a short-term mission trip, we might move on to the next 'issue.' Of course, the bouncing from one issue to the next runs counter to what both [of the authors] say, and it's counter to what God asks of us. So there will always be 'issues,' but do we recognize them as 'pains'? p233


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