How to Stir Up 'Holy Mischief' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

How to Stir Up 'Holy Mischief'

"Speaking of Faith" had an amazing interview with young Christian Shane Clayborne this morning. I wasn't familiar with his work, or his book, but he was just breathtaking. The Tennessee native is a "new monastic," so to speak, and looks like a hippy. He grew up very conservative, but has turned away from the religious right (and criticizes the left as well for abandoning the important messages of faith). Long story short, he and a group of young people started a community in one of Philadelphia's (Pa.) poor neighborhoods after college, and are leading a "Simple Way" movement of getting back to what Christianity really is about—love and helping people. Really wonderful. Visit their Web site here. And go up read up on the "Speaking of Faith" interview with him and listen to it here.

Meantime, following are some of the Simple Way's folks ideas for "brew[ing] up some holy mischief" as they call it:

• Go out to eat with someone who is homeless, or invite them to your home or cafeteria to eat with you.

•Leave a random tip in the college bathrooms for the folks who clean them.

•Find out who makes the clothes for the athletic department and if those companies reflect the values of Christ.

•Learn to sew and begin making your own clothes.

•Start tithing 10% of all income directly to the poor (relationaltithe.com).

•Connect with a group of farmworkers who grow food for your cafeteria or favorite restaurant (such as Taco Bells Immokalee workers ciw-online.org).

•Give your winter coat away to someone who is colder than you are.

•Ask to see the budget of your school. What do the workers get paid compared to the administrators? Make sure folks know -- if you are proud of this, affirm the folks who make those decisions... If not, begin a conversation with both workers and administrators of how this could be better.

More on the Web site.

Previous Comments

ID
112900
Comment

Listening to the show, I wondered what it would take to get a young progressive, multiracial community going here, perhaps in Poindexter, the Virden Addition or another neighborhood in West Jackson. I do think our biggest priority as a community is to lift up and empower kids growing up in our poorest communities. Folks, we've got to really get into the communities and make a difference in rebuilding the. And I don't mean just Habitat houses, although those are great. We need to be concerned about what happens after the house is built so to speak. Maybe we can get Shane down here to speak and give us some ideas. I'll see what I can do.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T12:13:56-06:00
ID
112901
Comment

An excerpt of writing by Shane: The vision of Jesus is not spread through organizational structures, but through touch, breath, shared life. It is spread through people who have discovered love. Not long ago, I sat and talked with some very wealthy Christians about what it means to be the church and to follow Jesus. One businessman confided, "I, too, have been thinking about following Christ and what that means … so I had this made." He pulled up his shirt-sleeve to reveal a bracelet, engraved with W.W.J.D (What Would Jesus Do?). It was custom-made of twenty-four karat gold. Maybe each of us can relate to this man — both his earnest desire to follow Jesus and his distorted execution of that desire, so bound up in the materialism of our culture. It is difficult to learn to live the downward mobility of the gospel in this age of wealth. For the most part, those of us who are rich never meet those of us who are poor. Instead, nonprofit organizations serve as brokers between the two in a booming business of poverty management. I believe that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor, but that they do not know the poor. Yet if we are called to live the new community for which Christ was crucified, we cannot remain strangers to one another. Jesus demands that we live in a very different way. I recently surveyed people who said they were "strong followers of Jesus." Over 80 percent agreed with the statement, "Jesus spent much time with the poor." Yet only 1 percent said that they themselves spent time with the poor. We believe we are following the God of the poor — yet we never truly encounter the poor.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T12:19:00-06:00
ID
112902
Comment

One thing Shane said on the radio show is that young people do not need to be entertained by churches; they need to be "dared"—to do good works, to make a difference, to work for social justice. More of the piece I excerpted in the last post: Several years ago, I was at a meeting where a new movement to end poverty was announced. I looked around. The only poor people in sight were the handful of people I had come with. Launching a movement to end poverty without poor people in critical roles is like launching a civil rights movement without Black people, or a feminist movement without women. As long as the poor are not present and intricately involved in the process, ending poverty will remain an intellectual, political concept. It will not convert us. The church needs to stop talking about ending the pain of the poor and instead join the poor. All around us, the poor are crying out. They can no longer be silenced. Wherever that outcry is heard, the church must be present. All this does not mean that social-service organizations do not do a great deal of good. I am not calling for all these organizations to be dismantled. But I am calling Christians to ask critical questions about their relationship to God's poor people. I believe all our "programs" should have their genesis in true relationship. At our house, we tutor — but we did not start by deciding to do a tutoring program. We simply fell in love with kids who needed help with their homework. We feed people — but we did not begin with a decision to start a feeding program. We simply fell in love with our neighbors, and they were hungry. [...] Those of us who yearn for the kingdom of God must follow in the steps of Jesus. Jesus was not "in charge" of the poor. He was poor. The message of Christ from the manger to the cross is that the world is conquered through weakness, through leastness, through struggle--not from the top, but from the bottom. [...] Jesus reminds us that it is easy to love people who are just like us: "Even idolators do that" (Matt. 5:47). We are called to love those who hate us. Love those who create poverty, and love those who are trapped in it. See in each of them yourself — the same blood and tears We are all capable of the same evil, and we have potential for the same good. As one believer said, "In the oppressed I recognize my own face, and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands." From addicts I learn of my addiction, and from the saints I learn of my holiness. The God of love and the love of God know no bounds. The unending love of Jesus teaches revolutionaries to love police officers, anarchists to love politicians, vegetarians to love meat eaters, peacemakers to love soldiers. This is the love that makes us the church.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T12:25:17-06:00
ID
112903
Comment

Here's another one by Shane; let's dedicate this one to Ben Allen and the other folks who supported anti-homeless ordiances in the city: A few years ago, Philadelphia chose to inaugurate its Sidewalk Behavior Ordinance (which criminalized homelessness by making it illegal to lie or sit extensively on sidewalks) on Martin Luther King Day. Define irony. Our community, the simple way, celebrated by sleeping out illegally with our homeless friends — and we were arrested. At our trial, the judge remembered King and remarked: "What is in question is not whether these folks broke the law … but the constitutionality of these laws." When the prosecuting attorney argued that the constitutionality of the law is not before this court, the judge retorted, "The constitutionality of the law is before every court. If it weren't for people who broke the unjust laws, we wouldn't have the freedoms we do. That's the story of this country from the Boston Tea Party to the civil rights movement. These people aren't criminals; they are freedom fighters. And I find them all not guilty, on every charge." It was a rare moment of vindication. How quickly we forget the stories of our ancestors, who continue to whisper, "Another world is possible." Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of those whispers. But for those of us who had not yet been born in 1968, the whisper is faint. Written in my Bible is a quote from King that we used when we moved onto the streets in protest those years back: "There is nothing wrong with a traffic law which says you have to stop for a red light. But when a man is bleeding, the ambulance goes through those red lights at top speed.… Disinherited people all over the world are bleeding to death from deep social and economic wounds. They need brigades of ambulance drivers who will have to ignore the red lights of the present system until the emergency is solved." Dangerous words of a prophet still resistant to domestication. Those words are balm when people call us crazy. "You're just idealistic kids," they say. Those who imagine alternatives to war are constantly called crazy. What is crazy: spending billions of dollars on a defense shield that is ultimately vulnerable, or suggesting that we share our billions so we don't need a defense shield? French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul once said, "Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society." When we imagine such dimensions, we will be called crazy. King was initially disappointed when people called him an extremist, but he grew to like the label. "The world," he said, "is in dire need of creative extremists. We live now in extreme times. The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?" [...] King has helped me understand that, just as war has polluted our neighborhoods and our minds, so must the beloved community invade our homes. Our dinner tables must reflect our commitment to reconciliation and an open commensality that mirrors the banquet of God. Our serious work for peace begins in our homes, and with our local neighborhood revolutions. And our work for justice locally must remember that we are part of a global family. (After all, the companies that left desolate seven hundred large properties in my neighborhood are the same companies that today abuse workers and destroy the earth overseas.) Because of my experiences of the beloved community, I stake my life on the reality that another world is possible.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T12:30:18-06:00
ID
112904
Comment

Now that's what I'm talking about! Donna, I hope you can get an interview with this guy. He's one in a million. At the church I belong to now, the pastors have promoted the church to be multicultural since its inception. Even the music varies - everything from Kirk Franklin to Michael W. Smith. However, they've said that it has been difficult to get white members because they don't feel comfortable having a black pastor. As a result, the church is predominantly black. We're praying that one day that will change, and there will be a congregation of all colors. I did want to point this out: Those of us who yearn for the kingdom of God must follow in the steps of Jesus. Jesus was not "in charge" of the poor. He was poor. The message of Christ from the manger to the cross is that the world is conquered through weakness, through leastness, through struggle--not from the top, but from the bottom. [...] A lot of preachers these days would only agree with the first sentence. They teach that if we obey God, we will receive the promises of God, which include prosperity and good health. Of course, prosperity doesn't apply to just money, but to every aspect of life. I was watching Creflo Dollar (yes, that's his real name), and his position is that Jesus was not poor according to the Scriptures. Dollar pointed out that it is not His will for His people to be poor but to receive all the blessings God has for us, and that would show the goodness of God. He asked how it would be possible for Christians to talk about being blessed when we think that being poor is honorable. He said that some people believe that the poorer you are, the holier you are, but if they would tap into the promises of God, they could change their situation. I don't always agree with Dollar, but I understand where he's coming from on this. Here are some Scriptures ministers often quote when they preach about prosperity and getting out of poverty: Deuteronomy 28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: 3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. As you can see, all of those Scriptures show that you have to do something in particular to receive those blessings.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T13:09:07-06:00
ID
112905
Comment

French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul once said, "Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society." When we imagine such dimensions, we will be called crazy. I love that. I've said time and time again that Jesus was a rebel. I know...shameless plug. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T13:15:17-06:00
ID
112906
Comment

A few years ago, Philadelphia chose to inaugurate its Sidewalk Behavior Ordinance (which criminalized homelessness by making it illegal to lie or sit extensively on sidewalks) on Martin Luther King Day. Define irony. Problems aren't solved by pretending they don't exist. That's like having a clean house, but when you open the closet, you're buried in an avalanche of clutter. If you don't want them on the street, give them somewhere to stay.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T13:18:10-06:00
ID
112907
Comment

In a somewhat related note, I was listening to NPR a few moments ago and they did a piece on how some in the Christian right want to expand moral issues beyond just abortion and gay marriage by addressing issues such as poverty and AIDS in Africa. The piece mentioned pastor Rick Warren, who is the author of The Purpose-Driven Life and pastor of a large church in California. Warren invited Barack Obama to the church to address AIDS in Africa and a lot of the hard-line, right-wing faction of the Christian right were upset about Warren inviting a Democrat to his church. The idea that you can't be a Democrat and a Christian is another thing that needs to be addressed. It doesn't matter what political party you belong to, Christianity is for all who want to practice it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you have to be a member of any political party to be a Christian. God, Jesus and the Bible have been hijacked by the right and have been used to spread a message that sounds nothing close to Christ-like. Their messages drive a wedge into the American people. They've also taken away compassion from their bully pulpits, which goes against the teachings of Jesus. How do you call yourself a Christian when you're doing the opposite of what Jesus taught? I'm no saint myself, but at least I know compassion when I see it and from what I've seen from Pat Robertson, the recently-departed Jerry Falwell and their ilk, I wouldn't want any part of their God. Back to the moral issues, I was wondering when the Christian right (and left, too) were going to start addressing other moral issues. There should be just as much hoorah over poverty and domestic violence against women as there is with abortion and gay marriage. My guess is (and correct me if I'm wrong) that more people will experience poverty and domestic violence than will those who seek to have an abortion or enter into a gay marriage/civil union. The impoverished and the abused sure could use some compassionate, old-time religion right now.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-05-20T15:54:36-06:00
ID
112908
Comment

BTW, L-Dub, what church do you attend? To be honest, I really haven't been interested in attending church lately, but I am willing to give it a chance if I can find the right church. I will say this as well: I, too, am looking for a racially-diverse church. After all, if we're children of God and can live in the same neighborhoods, work in the same office buildings and attend the same schools, then why can't we all attend the same churches together? It's ironic that the most segregated hour in America is 11am on Sunday morning.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-05-20T15:58:50-06:00
ID
112909
Comment

I love this part about the Amish (from the program notes): (23:05) Amish Response to School Shooting On October 2, 2006, Charles Roberts shot and killed five young girls in a one-room school in the Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania. Several other girls were wounded. Roberts, who was not Amish, later killed himself. Rather than seeking retribution and revenge, the Amish community's instinct was to "be with the murderer's family." In "What Kind of People Are These?," Sister Joan Chittister echoes Claiborne's admiration of the Amish reaction: "…it was not the violence suffered by the Amish community last week that surprised people. Our newspapers are full of brutal and barbarian violence day after day after day — both national and personal. No, what really stunned the country about the attack on the small Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania was that the Amish community itself simply refused to hate what had hurt them." Imagine if we Americans treated the families of those who commit violence as victims, too, instead of blaming them so we don't have to take responsibility for the societal problems that create the violence? Just imagine. I think of the treatment of the families of Klebold and Harris on Colorado after Columbine. I also seem to remember people being outraged that crosses were erected for those two boys, too. When will we learn that if we are going to package and sell a violent culture, the weakest among us will decide to imitate art? The Amish are sure getting through the pearly gates. Claiborne, too, I'd say. The rest of us need to work a bit harder, eh? No better time than today to start. I've been thinking about this program, this young man's words, all day, and keep going back to the site. I can't wait to read his book.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T16:54:04-06:00
ID
112910
Comment

Also, golden, be sure to listen to this program about evangelical leader Richard Cizik, who is trying to expand evangelical attention to poverty, human rights and the environment. Change is afoot, thankfully. This goes back to the cultural compass thing Todd likes to talk about. There is no reason whatsoever that the real faithful should be aligned with corporate conservatism. It makes no sense.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T17:09:00-06:00
ID
112911
Comment

And it doesn't make a lick of sense to try to paint Democrats as anti-religion. This state is overflowing with religious progressives, for instance. Yet, I really like Shane's point that the left and the right have screwed all this up. I agree. The left, over all, has done a terrible job of understanding the importance of spirituality in America. And they've allowed the political right to lay claim to territory that does not belong to them. Or anyone. It's the biggest thing the past 20 years will be remembered for. And it's gotten us in a mess of trouble.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-20T17:12:43-06:00
ID
112912
Comment

BTW, L-Dub, what church do you attend? To be honest, I really haven't been interested in attending church lately, but I am willing to give it a chance if I can find the right church. I will say this as well: I, too, am looking for a racially-diverse church. After all, if we're children of God and can live in the same neighborhoods, work in the same office buildings and attend the same schools, then why can't we all attend the same churches together? It's ironic that the most segregated hour in America is 11am on Sunday morning. Golden, I am a member of The Church Triumphant. I made a Jackpedia entry about the church not too long ago. Church starts at 10 AM on Sundays, and before that, you can watch a sermon on Fox 40 at 8:30. They're non-denominational, which is why I started going there almost two years ago. I spent the first 30 years of my life in two different strict Pentecostal-type religious sects. You know, long skirts, no makeup, etc. I felt like there was too much focus on dogma, so that's why I made the switch. I still hold on to my apostolic beliefs, but I no longer have to worry about superficial things like how long my skirt is. Now I just let the Holy Ghost tell me how to dress. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T20:45:35-06:00
ID
112913
Comment

The Amish community's response to the schoolhouse shootings was among the most heart-warming stories of compassion you could ever hear about. The fact that they did not want retribution towards the alleged killer--though the accused killer took his own life afterwards--is a great example of love towards mankind, no matter what wrongs they committed. They also didn't want to leave the killer's family to be forgotten, either. Imagine what anguish they went through and will continue to go through for the rest of their lives because of a tragedy committed by a loved one. I thought the same thing about the Virginia Tech gunman's family as well. Knowing that their loved one committed one of the most heinous crimes in this nation's history has got to feel like Hell on earth. I'm sure they have a lot of guilt on their minds, for they wonder what they could've done to prevent that from happening. I can also imagine that they may've received a lot of death threats and threatening looks from many people, even though it wasn't their fault. Thanks for the links, DL, though I'm going to have to listen to it at another time. At least I do know where it is when I'm ready for it.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-05-20T20:55:55-06:00
ID
112914
Comment

Yet, I really like Shane's point that the left and the right have screwed all this up. I agree. The left, over all, has done a terrible job of understanding the importance of spirituality in America. And they've allowed the political right to lay claim to territory that does not belong to them. Or anyone. It's the biggest thing the past 20 years will be remembered for. And it's gotten us in a mess of trouble. Yeah, and instead of just obeying God's principles to draw converts, their rhetoric is driving them away. Then, people like Shane get drowned out and everyone thinks Christians act like Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps when it couldn't be further from the truth. People like them are the flies in the ointment, so to speak. Jesus gave two important commandments: to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That's all we need because everything is embodied in those commandments. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you won't kill steal, lie, etc. Woo, y'all got me preaching up in here! LOL

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T20:56:20-06:00
ID
112915
Comment

The Amish community's response to the schoolhouse shootings was among the most heart-warming stories of compassion you could ever hear about. The fact that they did not want retribution towards the alleged killer--though the accused killer took his own life afterwards--is a great example of love towards mankind, no matter what wrongs they committed. They also didn't want to leave the killer's family to be forgotten, either. Imagine what anguish they went through and will continue to go through for the rest of their lives because of a tragedy committed by a loved one. When I heard about how they responded to the killings, I told someone, "Now that's the sign of a true Christian." I thought the same thing about the Virginia Tech gunman's family as well. Knowing that their loved one committed one of the most heinous crimes in this nation's history has got to feel like Hell on earth. I'm sure they have a lot of guilt on their minds, for they wonder what they could've done to prevent that from happening. I can also imagine that they may've received a lot of death threats and threatening looks from many people, even though it wasn't their fault. I know. The whole "guilty by association" thing is so unfair. I wish them well.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T21:01:15-06:00
ID
112916
Comment

I've actually been to a couple of services at Church Triumphant. First time was a couple of years ago; the last time about six months ago on a Tuesday night. No offense to you, but I didn't come away fulfilled from their services. I'm not saying anything sinister is going on. But, I may give them another chance someday. Maybe I'm just disconnected with churches all together, being that I worship God in my own way.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-05-20T21:03:22-06:00
ID
112917
Comment

I've actually been to a couple of services at Church Triumphant. First time was a couple of years ago; the last time about six months ago on a Tuesday night. No offense to you, but I didn't come away fulfilled from their services. I'm not saying anything sinister is going on. But, I may give them another chance someday. Maybe I'm just disconnected with churches all together, being that I worship God in my own way. The way they have service is slightly different than what most people are used to. I didn't get it the first time either, but after several more visits, I liked what I saw and decided to join. At the time, I wasn't going to my last church that much any more and wondered if I would fit in anywhere else because I felt like I was too free-thinking or something. They accepted my bohemian self with open arms. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-20T22:22:24-06:00
ID
112918
Comment

There is no doubt that there is a "Christian Left" on the rise. There have been a few articles over the past few months in some of the major political mags, I believe the New Republic and the Nation both have covered this. Ill look for some links.

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-05-21T09:47:33-06:00
ID
112919
Comment

This is provocative. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/mayweb-only/119-12.0.html

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-05-21T09:49:13-06:00
ID
112920
Comment

Wille, I've seen Hitchens on TV a couple of times, and I read the article. I believe that since we all have free will, he has every right not to believe as I have every right to believe. That's why I don't say anything negative about atheists, agnostics, etc. I don't believe that's my place. However, I think that his statements about Christianity being violent is unfair. He takes Old Testament events out of context. For instance, he called circumcision "genital mutilation". Anyone who didn't know what he was talking about would assume that to become a Christian, you have to get your privates chopped off or something. In fact, the Apostle Paul taught that circumcision was not a requirement for salvation. Look at Acts 15:24: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-21T15:08:17-06:00
ID
112921
Comment

yup. this is what following the Old Testament will do for you mutilation

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-05-21T15:16:58-06:00
ID
112922
Comment

Well, how about this Old Testament approach? Woman attacked while praying in chapel, fends off attacker with pen

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-21T18:28:29-06:00

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