Monday, September 20, 2010

Shane Claiborne - Buechner Institute Guest Blog

King College is also home to the Buechner Institute, which sponsors speakers throughout the school year in order to foster both the intellectual and spiritual growth of it's students, the community, and the world. The Institute is committed to looking at the clash where faith meets culture and tries to bring in speakers that do that very thing.
This past week, the Institute hosted Shane Claiborne, a Christian activist working in Philadelphia (and originally from Maryville, TN). The following is my blog that appeared on the official Buechner website as a response to his convocation speech.

Probably the most outstanding statement that Shane Claiborne made during his Monday morning convocation address was this: "If we look closely, we can see that Christianity spreads best, not through force, but through fascination." This declaration is the vocalization of something that I have been struggling with for a long time: do my physical and emotional actions in any way resemble my vocal faith? Am I just another evangelical that marches the aisle once a year, singing "Just as I Am," while staying just as I was?

Shane talked about three remedies that could quite possibly change our walks, and the fallen world that we walk in. The first was that we should seek to recapture the movement of the kingdom of God, in that God went to those people that he was seeking and saving. Our goal in this life should be to make our lives an intersection between our faith and the suffering of the world, and be a "different kind" of whatever we're choosing to be. I currently live in a state of versatility, where I can literally change the outlook of my whole life by turning in one Request Change of Major Form, and can be that "different kind." And so often, I choose not to take advantage of it.

His second point of "Christianity Reform" is the one that I have the most trouble with. He suggested that our attitude regarding money and possessions is wrong, and while I agree with that wholeheartedly, I'm not sure that the redistribution of wealth that he was suggesting could work in the broadest sense. I do think that the church as a whole has a responsibility to attempt to provide for the impoverished and needy in our communities, and my home church makes great efforts throughout the year to take care of those needs. While we understand that we alone cannot eliminate hunger in the greater Sullivan County, TN area, we know that we are making a difference, and can show individuals Jesus by handing them a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. But - I'm not entirely convinced that we can convince the rest of the world to live in such a way that "Capitalism won't be possible and Marxism won't be necessary," at least, not without withdrawing completely from the greater world community.

His third and last suggestion to the King College community during his lecture was that we should always and forever attempt to be people of reconciliation and hospitality. I had heard the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote about 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings being the "most segregated hour" before, and it bothered me even more when Shane brought it up. We should always endeavor to build relationships with the individuals that we might not normally build relationships with, for those are the people that we need to show Jesus to. I have to continually remind myself that the healthy people don't need a doctor, so why should I only show Jesus to my closest friends and family?

Shane reinforced a lot of the issues that I have been struggling with the last year, and gave me more reason to be empowered to NOT be normal, and to be peculiar because that's simply what I'm called to be, and to display some of that "scandalous love and hospitality." My favorite quote of the morning was when Shane recollected a border patrol officer in Iran, who stated that, "You might be Christians, but you're crazy." Crazy's not always a bad thing, you know?

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