A few weeks ago Laura and I went with some friends to a church in downtown Durham to hear this guy, Shane Claiborne, speak. He was a fascinating individual. He currently lives in Philadelphia in a intentional community known as "The Simple Way." He has also served with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and went with some people (including a few folks who went to Duke with me) to Iraq right as the war was starting as a part of peace-keeping team.
Shane's unique experiences and fresh perspective of the gospel made him a great speaker. I soon found out that he is also a great writer. Much like his speaking style, Shane's writing style is very relaxed and conversational. However, the words and stories are anything but comfortable. This book was extremely challenging to my "comfortable" Christian existence.
I thought the main theme that was prevelant throughout the book was the question: "What if we took the words and life of Jesus seriously?" What would happen if we really did love our enemies and thought of creative ways other than violence to solve conflicts? What if we really did sell our possessions and gave them to the poor? What if we really did care about the invisible people on the margins of society who have no voice?
Something that really struck me was a chapter where he described the relationships he was building with his neighbors in Philadelphia. He and his friends starting helping folks, and they in turn started helping him with things like groceries and car repairs. He made the profound point that in a true community money has no power. In our society, money has the power to exclude and divide. But when those barriers and boundaries are overcome, money loses its power.
I thought this book was excellent. It had a lot of subtle humor weaved in between strong and bold claims of the gospel. I actually recommend not reading this book unless you are wanting to welcome a serious challenge to the way you are living your life.