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Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people set apart from this world. In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves together words and Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people set apart from this world. In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves together words and images to sing (rather than dictate) its message. It is a collaboration of Shane Claiborne's writing and stories, Chris Haw's reflections and research, and Chico Fajardo-Heflin's art and design. Drawing upon the work of biblical theologians, the lessons of church history, and the examples of modern-day saints and ordinary radicals, Jesus for President stirs the imagination of what the Church could look like if it placed its faith in Jesus instead of Caesar. A fresh look at Christianity and empire, Jesus for President transcends questions of "Should I vote or not?" and "Which candidate?" by thinking creatively about the fundamental issues of faith and allegiance. It's written for those who seek to follow Jesus, rediscover the spirit of the early church, and incarnate the kingdom of God.


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Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people set apart from this world. In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves together words and Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people set apart from this world. In what can be termed lyrical theology, Jesus for President poetically weaves together words and images to sing (rather than dictate) its message. It is a collaboration of Shane Claiborne's writing and stories, Chris Haw's reflections and research, and Chico Fajardo-Heflin's art and design. Drawing upon the work of biblical theologians, the lessons of church history, and the examples of modern-day saints and ordinary radicals, Jesus for President stirs the imagination of what the Church could look like if it placed its faith in Jesus instead of Caesar. A fresh look at Christianity and empire, Jesus for President transcends questions of "Should I vote or not?" and "Which candidate?" by thinking creatively about the fundamental issues of faith and allegiance. It's written for those who seek to follow Jesus, rediscover the spirit of the early church, and incarnate the kingdom of God.

30 review for Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I loved this book. I hated this book. It is an easy read (linguistically, at least), but a hard read (conceptually). Conservative Christians everywhere need to read it, not because it's right but because we need to wrestle with the issues Claiborne & Haw raise through-out the book. Their ideas of reclaiming a "prophetic vision" and subversion of empire are discussions the church needs to be having ... right now! There were many instances in which I disagreed with the book. I will mention I loved this book. I hated this book. It is an easy read (linguistically, at least), but a hard read (conceptually). Conservative Christians everywhere need to read it, not because it's right but because we need to wrestle with the issues Claiborne & Haw raise through-out the book. Their ideas of reclaiming a "prophetic vision" and subversion of empire are discussions the church needs to be having ... right now! There were many instances in which I disagreed with the book. I will mention three here. -1- The total pacifism advocated by the authors would not only eliminate armies, but also the police and any opportunity for measured and restrained self-defense or physical violence (even restraint of evil, I think). -2- The authors blatantly celebrate the intentional deceit of security at a US Naval facility so a demonstration against war could be made (this leads to arrests), and they sued the government for wrongful arrest (which--as far as I can tell--is the exact opposite of what Jesus and the apostles would have done). -3- The authors spend one tiny paragraph in the entire book glossing over the nation of Israel and the wars--at God's command--they initiated during the occupation of the land of Canaan. Since they don't adequately deal with this subject, it leaves a gaping hole in the pacifism argument. Some I have talked with think the book has a tone of arrogance and pretense. I disagree, but understand why they would think that way. I have read other material from Shane Claiborne (mainly, blogs and articles online) and don’t believe a view of arrogance or pretense is warranted in this case. Lastly, the bibliography has me concerned. It appears that the authors spent timing reading only books that support their position. While this work doesn't claim to be scholarly, the authors should have at least reassured the reader that they had done their homework with opposing views.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    This book is completely radical. I hate to be so cliche as to say it not only impacted my life more than any other book I've ever read, but that it had a major role in completely changing my life. It's true. Jesus for President is challenging. It presents some very hard-edged ideas that will challenge you and REALLY get you thinking about life, about what you think or feel is important, about what you're really hoping for in the end and how you're going about getting there. Because of this book, I This book is completely radical. I hate to be so cliche as to say it not only impacted my life more than any other book I've ever read, but that it had a major role in completely changing my life. It's true. Jesus for President is challenging. It presents some very hard-edged ideas that will challenge you and REALLY get you thinking about life, about what you think or feel is important, about what you're really hoping for in the end and how you're going about getting there. Because of this book, I told seven extremely close friends that I wanted more out of life. Much, much more. Because of that statement, those friends asked me if I were willing to leave my addiction to alcohol behind. Because of that question, I was faced with the choice of actually stepping out and seeking more, or just saing I wanted more. Because of that I took a step and quit drinking. And because of that, God has moved in my life in ways that have forever altered how I live in this world. The book, for me, was that powerful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Clark

    Shaped by the anabaptist peace tradition, Jesus for President casts a compelling vision of what Jesus' "revolutionary subordination" might mean for engaging our communities and nation today. Like The Irresistible Revolution (which this book compliments without repeating), Jesus for President describes the authors' dream for what ordinary Christians might become--radically committed to living like Jesus. Relying heavily on John Howard Yoder's pacifism and biblical scholarship, they suggest Shaped by the anabaptist peace tradition, Jesus for President casts a compelling vision of what Jesus' "revolutionary subordination" might mean for engaging our communities and nation today. Like The Irresistible Revolution (which this book compliments without repeating), Jesus for President describes the authors' dream for what ordinary Christians might become--radically committed to living like Jesus. Relying heavily on John Howard Yoder's pacifism and biblical scholarship, they suggest such a life be lived as communal, creative, and nonviolent resistance to U.S. militarism and markets. In short, a life together, devoted to extreme love of enemies and jubilee economics. It's vision is compelling and provocative, if perhaps less than clear or accessible for those unable or unwilling to join communities like the authors' "simple way" and "camden house."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    The title of this book is an attention getting update of terms such as "King Jesus" and "Jesus is Lord." It’s an ironic title because the authors admit that the American “powers and principalities” would remove him quickly if Jesus were somehow made President of the United States. Why? Because the first thing he would do is disarm the military and put them to work aiding the poor. This book's position is that the ethics of Jesus apply to life here and now; not to some personal spiritual The title of this book is an attention getting update of terms such as "King Jesus" and "Jesus is Lord."  It’s an ironic title because the authors admit that the American “powers and principalities” would remove him quickly if Jesus were somehow made President of the United States. Why? Because the first thing he would do is disarm the military and put them to work aiding the poor. This book's position is that the ethics of Jesus apply to life here and now; not to some personal spiritual relationship that provides a ticket to a heavenly afterlife.  Readers who believe Jesus is an American and a member of their favorite political party will be shocked to find that the authors of this book are at a completely different place.  In other words, after taking the Hebrew and Christian scriptures more seriously than those identified by the mainstream media as "evangelical conservatives," this book has arrived at a political positions that are polar opposites those pious folks. My summary of the book’s position is this--actions matter, share your money, and avoid possessing power. Doing this will lead you to live simply, aid the poor and oppose the military. If that sounds radical, this book agrees.  Jesus was radical in his time, and the writers of this book want to follow his example and be radical in our time. I am generally sympathetic with their political positions, and I tend to be amused at how their study of the Bible leads them to political positions opposed to the “holier that thou” evangelical conservatives. But I can’t be too smug about it because the authors of this book would not approved of my own life style. They don’t offer much of a middle position short of dumpster diving, living off the grid and giving my money away. The book is divided into four main sections. The first two sections are focused on showing that the book's positions are rooted in the Bible. The first section does a quick overview of the scriptures used by Jesus, the Hebrew scriptures. The second section deals with Jesus' relationship with religious and political leaders in his time. The third section describes what the early church was like before and after it became the state religion. The fourth and last section discusses what Christianity can look like today when allegiance is to God over national patriotism. It goes on to deal with nitty-gritty questions such as serving in the military, paying taxes, and consumerism. I couldn't help but notice that the book references John Howard Yoder several times. I have recently read his book, Politics of Jesus which I found to be a challenging academic style of writing. The book "Jesus for President" in contrast is quite easy to read and is probably written at a junior high level. I also noticed that the book sites the Amish as a positive example of how Christians should live.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alan Stucky

    The best quote that I've heard about this book was actually from Shane himself. He said the best compliment that they had gotten on the book was that it was "like John Howard Yoder, with pictures".

  6. 5 out of 5

    RF

    I like Shane's books... I don't necessarily agree with everything he writes, but his books challenge me to ask hard questions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    This book has done many things during my time hammering through the pages. I have laughed, I have been disturbed, I have felt anger both at situations or even at the author, and have been gazing at the book with my jaw dropped wide open while realizing that I cannot deny what the author is portraying. This book has helped me think of America, politics, and Christianity in a whole new light. The authors express that when thinking about politics, Christians or followers of Christ must always seek This book has done many things during my time hammering through the pages. I have laughed, I have been disturbed, I have felt anger both at situations or even at the author, and have been gazing at the book with my jaw dropped wide open while realizing that I cannot deny what the author is portraying. This book has helped me think of America, politics, and Christianity in a whole new light. The authors express that when thinking about politics, Christians or followers of Christ must always seek after the Bible first and give our allegiance to Jesus and only to Jesus. While I don't always agree with all of the authors', there have been some strong statements that I will continue to struggle with for some time. Toward the end of the book the authors state that it isn't so much who we will decide to vote for in this next election, but rather, what is it that we are voting for each and every day in our own lives? What kinds of media, corporations, or social situations do we vote for with our actions? These are the questions that the author challenges the reader to ask. Overall this was a great book, and forced me to stretch my thinking.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I'm not quite done with this book and I'm rapidly trying to finish it b/c it was due at library on Thursday...but I can't return until I'm done! It's so good! I'm definitely buying this one to keep in my collection...there is a lot of wisdom here that I'll want to keep going back to years from now. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time...so many great ideas. And it's also one of the best looking books I've ever seen...every single page is a work of art! I recommend this book to I'm not quite done with this book and I'm rapidly trying to finish it b/c it was due at library on Thursday...but I can't return until I'm done! It's so good! I'm definitely buying this one to keep in my collection...there is a lot of wisdom here that I'll want to keep going back to years from now. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time...so many great ideas. And it's also one of the best looking books I've ever seen...every single page is a work of art! I recommend this book to everyone! Seriously, it will make you think and rethink every part of your life and this society we live in...page after page is an inspiration to live your life in a more positive, impactful way.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ramón

    Frankly, the layout of this book distracts me beyond belief, but there are a moments when it is pitch perfect. As far as content, it is a very refreshing exercise in prophetic imagination filled with inspiring stories of creative nonviolent resistance to the prevailing empire and radical embodiment of the way of Jesus. Claiborne also does an impressive job synthesizing key works from names that most 20-30 somethings are either unfamiliar with or unmotivated to explore (J.H. Yoder, N.T. Wright, Frankly, the layout of this book distracts me beyond belief, but there are a moments when it is pitch perfect. As far as content, it is a very refreshing exercise in prophetic imagination filled with inspiring stories of creative nonviolent resistance to the prevailing empire and radical embodiment of the way of Jesus. Claiborne also does an impressive job synthesizing key works from names that most 20-30 somethings are either unfamiliar with or unmotivated to explore (J.H. Yoder, N.T. Wright, William Cavanaugh, Oscar Romero, A.J. Heschel, etc.). Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carlisle Davidhizar

    A book I desperately needed in the face of the current political climate.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    Visually, this book is amazing. Pages are printed in different colors and with different textures, so it feels like a scrapbook. There are photographs, line drawings, and captions all over, and many of the otherwise ordinary written passages have editing marks all over them. Reading this book is an unusual and inviting experience. As for the content, though... The book shines with the personal stories at the end, with concrete examples of what it looks like to radically live out the love that the Visually, this book is amazing. Pages are printed in different colors and with different textures, so it feels like a scrapbook. There are photographs, line drawings, and captions all over, and many of the otherwise ordinary written passages have editing marks all over them. Reading this book is an unusual and inviting experience. As for the content, though... The book shines with the personal stories at the end, with concrete examples of what it looks like to radically live out the love that the authors describe, enduring occasional arrests to stand with the poor and needy. I found the Biblical exegesis leading to those stories, though, to be unsatisfying. It may be that the authors use a juvenile tone, with plenty of typographical errors and overly conversational syntax, or it may be that their analysis of Biblical events tends to reduce the events to statements on systemic issues (which, I know, is no better than the opposite tendency to reduce them to statements on personal sin issues), but I remained unpersuaded at the end of the discussion. For example, if the authors are going to categorically state that military service is contrary to Christian life (even when they do a good job backing that up with quotes from early Christians), I personally need either a lot more directly Biblical argument or a sense that I can trust the author before I can agree. I don't feel that either was provided, although I do trust that these authors have the best of intentions and are genuinely following after Jesus as well as they can. I do hope that this controversial book generates some real discussions and personal soul-searching, but in the context of one reader and one book, I was disappointed in it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fox

    A genuinely cool book. I found Jesus for President under the New Non-Fiction section of the library and couldn't help but check it out when I read the title. I didn't know what to expect from the book (there's no summary on the back) and decided immediately that that was part of the overall allure it presented. What I got was not exactly what I expected, but instead was something more fascinating. Firstly, I have to praise the formatting of the book. The pictures and somewhat interactive A genuinely cool book. I found Jesus for President under the New Non-Fiction section of the library and couldn't help but check it out when I read the title. I didn't know what to expect from the book (there's no summary on the back) and decided immediately that that was part of the overall allure it presented. What I got was not exactly what I expected, but instead was something more fascinating. Firstly, I have to praise the formatting of the book. The pictures and somewhat interactive footnotes make it a fascinating read. The content, also, was excellent. The book at first is a political history of the Bible that ties the ancient politics to present ones and offers a good compare/contrast of the two times. The final section of the book is the best, where it talks about practically implicating what it means to be a good Christian into today's world. Jesus For President was difficult to get through at times (any fact heavy book is) but overall was an excellent examination of contradictory Christianity that goes above and beyond the norm by actually providing examples of how to consolidate this contradiction.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christopher M.

    Ok, where do I start? It's not that these guys can't speak some truth or don't make some valid observations and solutions regarding the blind following and condoning of the establishment. 2 problems. 1) This isn't the gospel. Never once is sin portrayed as something personal that we can't take care of ourselves. Righteousness is not only something exemplified by Christ, but something that can come from ONLY Christ. 2) The opinions are expressed with such a breathtaking immaturity, I had to force Ok, where do I start? It's not that these guys can't speak some truth or don't make some valid observations and solutions regarding the blind following and condoning of the establishment. 2 problems. 1) This isn't the gospel. Never once is sin portrayed as something personal that we can't take care of ourselves. Righteousness is not only something exemplified by Christ, but something that can come from ONLY Christ. 2) The opinions are expressed with such a breathtaking immaturity, I had to force myself through every word of the first two chapters. Nearly every comment is wrought with trite ad hominem against Bush, Republicans, the rich, the government, the establishment, whatever. Sorry guys, but Jesus did NOT have politics on his mind with every single thing he said (Nor are there even applications to politics from most of what he said). Plenty of important material to work with here, and plenty of things people need to hear, just too bad they can't get past their own immaturity and ignorance to make it worth reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily Bibens

    I've grown up in the Christian faith, and my church has always emphasized following a God and Jesus that stood for peace, love, and justice...but this book brought those ideas TO LIFE for me. I've never been so equally overwhelmed and inspired to find ways to live into the radical religion that has been watered down by our national culture. For years I've thought that my liberal ideology in the middle of the bible belt was radical, but if I fully embodied and advocated for the non-violence, I've grown up in the Christian faith, and my church has always emphasized following a God and Jesus that stood for peace, love, and justice...but this book brought those ideas TO LIFE for me. I've never been so equally overwhelmed and inspired to find ways to live into the radical religion that has been watered down by our national culture. For years I've thought that my liberal ideology in the middle of the bible belt was radical, but if I fully embodied and advocated for the non-violence, sharing economy, and action on behalf of the marginalized that Jesus emphasized (and that these authors spell out so beautifully), I would be on an entirely different plane of "radical" in our current U.S. culture. I don't want to say much more because this book is an experience, and I can't do it justice, but if you are a Christian who feels despair at the state of our national politics and is only going to church for community and the peace of ritual, this book might be the kick in the pants that you need to see Christianity as your true foundation for hope, action, and purpose.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meadow

    This book totally blew my mind! First of all, it was a really unique style - kind of pictorial narrative discourse, or something :) (In other words, it had lots of pictures and stories and historical information.) The more I read the more I worried I got, because it was clearly the kind of book you can't read without changing to become more radical! But I kept reading, because becoming more radical for the cause of Jesus is worth it. In the end, I have to say, this book was life-changing. I don't This book totally blew my mind! First of all, it was a really unique style - kind of pictorial narrative discourse, or something :) (In other words, it had lots of pictures and stories and historical information.) The more I read the more I worried I got, because it was clearly the kind of book you can't read without changing to become more radical! But I kept reading, because becoming more radical for the cause of Jesus is worth it. In the end, I have to say, this book was life-changing. I don't agree with everything Shane Claiborne said or did, but his thirst to see the kingdom of God advanced, and freed from anything that is merely added by our culture is inspiring and awesome. If you want to have your political views as a modern American (or Western) Christian strongly challenged, and/or you want to learn more about the political world that Jesus lived and walked in during Roman times, this is the book for you!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Inder

    Okay! I wanted a very radical approach to Christianity, and this is it! Whoa! Very challenging, and very cool, even if it did push my buttons in some respects (specifically, I really shouldn't make money or pay taxes? ouch! can lawyers even get into heaven? get ready to pass a camel through the eye of a needle!). But in addition to some seriously fringy and radical interpretations of scripture, this book is full of ideas about how to truly be of service. I'll be thinking about this one for a Okay! I wanted a very radical approach to Christianity, and this is it! Whoa! Very challenging, and very cool, even if it did push my buttons in some respects (specifically, I really shouldn't make money or pay taxes? ouch! can lawyers even get into heaven? get ready to pass a camel through the eye of a needle!). But in addition to some seriously fringy and radical interpretations of scripture, this book is full of ideas about how to truly be of service. I'll be thinking about this one for a while. But unfortunately, it's not as well-written as it could have been - very redundant. It was a struggle to read this from beginning to end, and my attention constantly wandered (it's overdue now, so I finally got around to finishing it). This book would have benefited from a much better editing - actually, I just wanted to pull out a pen and start editing it myself. But there are some amazing, challenging ideas here. I recommend it, but I would suggest skipping around a bit.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    It's been several years since I've read Shane Claiborne. This was a bargain book for my Kindle, so I decided to give it a try. As a Christian and a Democrat, I often find myself at odds with the politics of my church, so Claiborne's title intrigued me. I can't remember what I expected, but what surprised me was his intense pacifism. I should have known this from reading him previously, but many of his arguments this time were very persuasive and thought-provoking. I don't agree with everything It's been several years since I've read Shane Claiborne. This was a bargain book for my Kindle, so I decided to give it a try. As a Christian and a Democrat, I often find myself at odds with the politics of my church, so Claiborne's title intrigued me. I can't remember what I expected, but what surprised me was his intense pacifism. I should have known this from reading him previously, but many of his arguments this time were very persuasive and thought-provoking. I don't agree with everything Claiborne proposed, but he certainly moved me closer to his thinking than I was before reading the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Davis

    For anyone trying to reconcile faith (or more appropriately, discipleship to Jesus) with politics. Obviously, we can't expect everyone to lead the life Shane leads, but there are some seriously good ideals to attempt to hold ourselves to in this book. If we dismiss the ways of Jesus in favor of a certain political system, we are (as Shane points out) suggesting that we find that system more realistic and believable than Jesus.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    This was phenomenal. There is this whole other radical way to think about everything. This book had very little to do w/ presidential races or voting . . . and lots to do w/ everyday races & politics. Lots to say about how we are voting every single day. I will write more about this book later, but suffice it to say, I loved the book & admire the authors very much. If I wanted to pick some heroes, these guys would be it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    One of the last gifts a close friend gave me, this was challenging and over-simplified, partisan and disinterested. It took me years to read and I will probably be pondering it for a long while yet. One of the few books on faith, theology or politics that may change the way I believe and respond to the world around me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    Great read for the election year, and beyond. Written by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, it balances Biblical study with the past and current ideas of government, ultimately illuminating the Kingdom we should be serving as followers of Christ.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heather Hampton

    This book gives its readers a lot to think about. Although many of the ideas in the book I fully agree with many of them I think the authors take a little far and make them almost impractical. However, this book did give me a lot to think about and for that I am greatful.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raleigh

    Simple. Beautiful. Takes what I already believe and transforms it into something that I can articulate to others.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Elliott

    How shall I describe this book? To be fair I would say "thought-provoking". Early on I agreed whole-heartedly but then as he continued I felt his conclusions seemed forced by trying to be revolutionary, counter-cultural, anti-materialistic, environmentalist, anti-consumer, etc;... In the end it became like a lot of other hippie books. While I appreciate Claiborne's sincerity and effort, I pretty much got what I expected from the middle to the end. I found his thoughts on many issues to be How shall I describe this book? To be fair I would say "thought-provoking". Early on I agreed whole-heartedly but then as he continued I felt his conclusions seemed forced by trying to be revolutionary, counter-cultural, anti-materialistic, environmentalist, anti-consumer, etc;... In the end it became like a lot of other hippie books. While I appreciate Claiborne's sincerity and effort, I pretty much got what I expected from the middle to the end. I found his thoughts on many issues to be confusing on one hand and distorted on the other. To try to be fair again, after about half way through I stopped reading with intent and just tried to finish. I'm certain Claiborne thinks he is thoroughly Christ-like in all areas. However, he recounts several incidents of his being arrested and I seem to remember than when the Jews tried to get Jesus arrested they couldn't find anything to charge him with. I take great exception to Claiborne's treatment of Romans 13 in Appendix 3 although I will be copying it for further analysis. I'm preparing to preach a sermon on Daniel whom I believe was more thoroughly biblical and Christ-like in his service of a pagan kingdom than Claiborne will ever be. I'm certain Claiborne has his followers and those who wish they were. Perhaps in time we will consider him to be a prophet before his time. As of today, he is not a voice in the wilderness but a voice that sounds preachy and a little bit prideful. There is no sense in this book of Claiborne's humility of "I could be wrong" but rather it sounds like "I'm right and you should be doing what I'm doing." Below are some quotes that I either enjoyed or took exception to (A) =agree (D) =disagree: -pg. 17-"Having power at its fingertips, the church often finds "guiding the course of history" a more alluring goal than following the crucified Christ." (A) I agree with his statement but obviously didn't know where he was going to end up going. -pg. 71-"...Jesus was urging his followers to be the unique, peculiar, and set-apart people that began with Abraham. He didn't pray for the world in order to make governments more religious; he called Israel to be the light of the world--to abandon the way of the world and cultivate an alternative society in the shell of the old, not merely to be a better version of the kingdom of this world." (A) If only I had know what he meant by "alternative society"! -pg. 179-"Even a glance at a high school history book shows the the United States' imperial objectives are all too clear. The Stars and Stripes fly over more than seven hundred military stations in more than one hundred countries all over the globe. The US has claimed lands far and wide as its own (Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, Guantanamo Bay [in a country it explicitly opposes through sanctions], the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, etc;. (D) My notes to myself on this quote was "America as Empire? You can't be serious!" This interpretation of American dominions is hardly fair. Most of those bases are manned at the request for security by the individual countries. I would not define providing security for those who cannot provide it for themselves "empire". From a footnote on pg. 182-"The essence of our book is not dependent on whether the United States is truly a prideful empire. Christianity proclaims an alternate allegiance even to citizens of humble nations. And the point is certainly not that only the United States is one of the beastly powers. Among Russia, China, Rwanda, Belgium, and countless others, it would be quite a competition as to which dictatorship tops the list of most blood shed and worst publicly legitimated insanity. But to see the bad fruits of power is an important connection to make for those who have a white-knuckle grip on both the cross and the flag. When we take a good look at the history of the United States, we must face the reality that the US is not, as Barak Obama (and countless others) said, "the last great hope for humanity." This not only is false according to the standards of secular history but is also heretical for us in the church. This is the kind of stuff that made John of Patmos seethe (not to mention God). And in the scope of history, the United States is a young project that doubtlessly will fall--whether in a few or in many years." (A & D) I agree that America is not the "last great hope for humanity" but I disagree with the comparison to Russia and China [Again, "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!"] I take exception to his contextual application of Ezra 4:11 on page 184 after his footnote about American empire. "Therefore, you will surely disappear, you eagle...so that the whole earth, will be freed from your violence." From another footnote on pg. 193 which I am certain Claiborne knew that many would find hypocritical: "We even wrestled with writing this book at all, because publishing it relies on the industrial world made possible by computers, fossil fuels, deforestation, international shipping and so on...For this reason, we have made a modest compromise by giving back to the earth 10 percent of our book earnings through "carbon fixing," planting trees, and sustaining nature." [Again "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!] Not merely hypocritical but patronizing also--only 10%? How about the freedom of speech in this American empire that allows you to say things like this? I did find humorous a cheap shot taken at Mark Driscoll with a quote by him on pg. 194: "Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in his hair, who drank decaf and made pithy zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up" Touche Driscoll and oh...touche Claiborne On pg. 195 Claiborne does a piece about "Flags on Altars" which I mostly agree with. The inanity of the Crystal Cathedral is well done. Referring to a massive flag which descended from the ceiling, he concludes with this thought: The American flag has smothered the glory of the cross because everything the American flag represents to them is in their way." But then he takes it too far for my liking with this from pg. 198: "If your congregation has a US flag at the altar, erect the Iraqi or Afghan flag beside it to remember everyone suffering from the horrors of war and terror." ??? pg. 212 footnote-"If it appears as though we are encouraging folks to leave the military, that's because we are. (Not Zondervan...just us, the authors of this book.)" Later on they even offer to help you get out. pg. 213 refers to Mark Twain's "War Prayer" which I will need to reference later. Apparently his publisher refused to print it. Looks like it can be found on wikipedia. search "War Prayer" From a section titled, "Give to Uncle Sam What Is Uncle Sams" pg. 257: "The idea of war tax resistance has emerged in fresh ways in this era of military buildup. One of our favorite approaches to taxes, which is employed by many Christians in the US, [really?] is to send a letter to the IRS along with a check for a portion of the taxes owed and a receipt showing that the sender has donated the amount that would have gone toward weapons to a nonprofit doing the work of the kingdom of God. Usually such letters applaud the use of tax money to benefit the poor and the common good (which is about half of all tax receipts) but lets the government know that as people of the gospel, we are peacemakers and cannot contribute to the destruction of life." [YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!] The only way he is getting away with this is that his lifestyle is simple enough that he doesn't pay any taxes which makes it a whole lot easier to say than do. On pgs. 264 & 265, he relates a story of how he and a friend were beat up because they refused to fight. I found it humorous because it was a question I had throughout the book. Claiborne says he is often asked of his pacifism, "What would you do if someone was raping your grandmother?" He never really answered the question but at least we know he is consistent with not fighting back when it involves him. He does try to deal with the question of "What about Hitler?" in a section in the book but I found his doublespeak to be tiresome. I don't really have a problem with pacifists; I have a problem with pacifists wanting everyone to be one. I don't see how it works. I guess I can see how you could use the model of Jesus to justify it, but I also think Jesus stood up for the woman about to be stoned. Claiborne uses the story of Jesus healing the centurion's ear after Peter chopped it off to justify his claims. I just really have a hard time picturing Jesus letting people walk all over him. I do not think there was any choice but to fight Hitler. Bin Laden may have been a different story. The reality is that there are those out there who are bent on destruction and will not be deterred except by force. Claiborne's response is then we will all be martyrs. I find that unacceptable. [See next paragraph] Claiborne gives an example of some militants in Rwanda coming in to a pastor's church and killing 70 of his people and his nonviolent response caused on of the "relatives of the soldiers who killed Celestin's [the pastor] church members surrendered his life to Christ." He then trumpets this as proof of a pacifist response. I find 70 to one odds not that good. Certainly the salvation of one is admirable. How many churches did these militants destroy before all came to Christ? We will never know. Final note for message to be preached on 111112 from a footnote on pg. 320: "The feast day of St. Martin of Tours, when Christians around the world celebrate his life, is November 11, which, interestingly enough, is when Americans celebrate Veteran's Day. So as patriots remember the veterans of war, the church is remembering the veterans of peace." Cheap shot at veterans but good point about peace. Clearly, since this is the longest book review I have written, Claiborne evokes strong emotions. I am certainly not an "America is the hope of the world" person, but I also cannot agree that it is the evil "empire" that Claiborne imagines.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    All candidates for president have supporters who don't really represent their character or understand their political worldview all that well, and Jesus Christ is no exception to this rule. To be sure, the authors of this book do not entirely misunderstand Jesus' political worldview, but their understanding of the political implications of Christianity are greatly harmed by a marked leftist bias. Had the author been less excessively leftist, and more interested in exegesis than eisegesis, this All candidates for president have supporters who don't really represent their character or understand their political worldview all that well, and Jesus Christ is no exception to this rule.  To be sure, the authors of this book do not entirely misunderstand Jesus' political worldview, but their understanding of the political implications of Christianity are greatly harmed by a marked leftist bias.  Had the author been less excessively leftist, and more interested in exegesis than eisegesis, this would have been a far more enjoyable book.  Unfortunately, it is lamentably all too common, not least in the author's own body of work, for the progressive thinking of the author to be far more important than the specific content of the Bible that is to be presented in a balanced fashion.  To be sure, the author is not alone in these tendencies to show a marked bias and a tendency to cherry pick scriptures and interpretations in order to support a pre-existing and non-biblical political worldview, this book is certainly a flamboyant offender when it comes to such matters and is likely to be of interest mostly to readers who already agree with the book's thesis or for those who want to use this book as an example of the sort of material that is published by those with leftist political worldviews. This book is a bit more than 300 pages and is divided into several sections.  The authors aim in the introduction to provoke the Christian political imagination and push it in a leftist direction.  The authors spend a great deal of the early portion of this book giving a people's biblical history by discussing the period of early Genesis (1) before there were kings and presidents, and then a compressed and predictably incomplete look at biblical history and the problem of authority in ancient Israel (2).  After that the authors correctly note that there were major problems that resulted when the Roman Empire was baptized into a superficial Christianity (3), but they fail to note the problems of Hellenism that had started long before then.  After that the author talks about how believers are to be political, waffling somewhat between a desire not to be partisan but in practice showing a political program that is predictably leftist, as if often the case for phony nonpartisan Christian writers like the authors (4).  Finally, the book ends with a series of four appendices that view Israel's history as anti-imperial (i), look at pluralism and uniqueness (ii), give a twisted view of Romans 13 (iii), and talk about the authors' views of political resistance (iv). As is often the case with a book like this, the authors provide plenty of ways for the reader to find out about how they misread scripture and about how they think and believe, but the book does not include a great deal of insight into what the Bible actually says.  And although this book is fairly predictable in terms of its political perspective, it does not seem to be aware of how predictable it is, nor do the authors appear to be aware that the leftist social gospel adhered to by the authors disregards some key elements to the biblical worldview that cannot be jettisoned, especially with regards to personal morality, which matters to God as much as social morality does.  We know, of course, that Jesus Christ will return to earth and establish his kingdom (by monarchical and not democratic principles), but that kingdom will look a lot different than the one imagined by these authors, who seem more interested in setting up a people's republic than in living according to the laws and ways of God's kingdom.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Cook

    I really enjoyed this book and admire Shane Clairborne. In my opinion, one cannot read scripture and not feel piqued. Christ's teachings rarely align with the standards of society and governments. Yet we have seen a rise in the religious right over the last 30 years where politicians and pastors have formed a partnership dripping with piety. They drape Christ in the Flag and the prosperity gospel and largely ignore the hard teachings. This is a book to read and reread especially around election I really enjoyed this book and admire Shane Clairborne. In my opinion, one cannot read scripture and not feel piqued. Christ's teachings rarely align with the standards of society and governments. Yet we have seen a rise in the religious right over the last 30 years where politicians and pastors have formed a partnership dripping with piety. They drape Christ in the Flag and the prosperity gospel and largely ignore the hard teachings. This is a book to read and reread especially around election time. Lots of notable quotes: “Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful.” “Some folks may be really bummed to find that "God bless America" does not appear in the Bible. So often we do things that make sense to us and ask God to bless our actions and come alongside our plans, rather than looking at the things God promises to bless and acting alongside of them. For we know that God's blessing will inevitably follow if we are with the poor, the merciful, the hungry, the persecuted, the peacemakers. But sometimes we'd rather have a God who conforms to our logic than conform our logic to the God whose wisdom is a stumbling block to the world of smart bombs and military intelligence.” “The history of the church has been largely a history of "believers" refusing to believe in the way of the crucified Nazarene and instead giving in to the very temptations he resisted--power, relevancy, spectacle.” “Repentance, rebirth, and conversion were exchanged for cheap grace, and the integrity of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus faded. People join the church in droves, but Christian disciples were hard to come by. Christianity had an identity crisis. It's the same old story of the forbidden fruit--it's the beautiful things that get us. It's the things that seem good, but are not quite of God, that steer us off the course of holiness into destructiveness.” “The American flag has smothered the glory of the cross. Many people can’t see the beauty of the cross because everything the American flag represents to them is in the way.”

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I got this book many, many years ago and never got around to reading it. It was originally released as the U. S. was preparing for the 2008 Presidential election, and Claiborne and Haw thought things were bleak then. I can only imagine what an updated version would look like now as so many Christians have wholeheartedly supported our current President. As a follower of Christ and a believer in the message of love, compassion, and peace that the Bible teaches, I'm just completely dumbfounded by I got this book many, many years ago and never got around to reading it. It was originally released as the U. S. was preparing for the 2008 Presidential election, and Claiborne and Haw thought things were bleak then. I can only imagine what an updated version would look like now as so many Christians have wholeheartedly supported our current President. As a follower of Christ and a believer in the message of love, compassion, and peace that the Bible teaches, I'm just completely dumbfounded by the state of our country and how Christians are okay with how things are going. So, it was good that I waited nine years to read this book. The message was one that I needed to hear now to remind me that there are others out there that believe the way that I do. It was confirmation that I'm not completely crazy for thinking that the Church isn't behaving as it should when it comes to loving our neighbor and living as of we belong to something greater than this world. I've been exploring more of my Quaker ancestry and have appreciated their non-violent approach to life so this book went right along with that as well. Being a person of faith is a journey, and Claiborne is more radical than I ever picture myself being. However, as I get more upset by the injustices in this world and how our government often perpetuates them instead of trying to eliminate them, people like Claiborne are good to inspire us to think and live outside of the box a bit more and to live a little bit more radically. I only gave the book 4 stars because of how it was presented. The different page colors and sizes of font were probably used to be more appealing to younger generations, but I found it very difficult to read at times. I had to skip a few little paragraphs and quotes because the background color of the page made it too hard to see so I was frustrated with that. It was distracting at times to the message of the authors.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Beale

    Too simplistic. Jesus, in Clairborne’s telling, is boiled down to something approaching a Che Guevara leftist, and the gospel to a social reengineering program. Okay, maybe that critique is itself too simplistic. Claiborne does draw a more nuanced picture than the social gospel or liberation theology of yore, and certainly takes the Bible more seriously than mainline liberals. Some of his insights were brilliant and compelling. He rightly seeks to apply the political ramifications of the gospel Too simplistic. Jesus, in Clairborne’s telling, is boiled down to something approaching a Che Guevara leftist, and the gospel to a social reengineering program. Okay, maybe that critique is itself too simplistic. Claiborne does draw a more nuanced picture than the social gospel or liberation theology of yore, and certainly takes the Bible more seriously than mainline liberals. Some of his insights were brilliant and compelling. He rightly seeks to apply the political ramifications of the gospel for a church that has boiled down its faith to a “get out of hell free” Gnosticism. The overall message of the book- that following Jesus has radical ramifications for every one of our political beliefs- is more needed now than ever. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that both his diagnosis and his prescribed treatment tell me more about his own political leanings than they do about Jesus’. I don’t think he sufficiently grapples with the unique role of the church, nor of the necessity of faith and repentance to take part in Jesus’ kingdom. In rebelling against the over-realized eschatology of conservatives who make America the Promised Land, Claiborne ends up falling into the same ditch on the other side of the road. There are helpful nuggets and searing quotable insights here. But if you’re looking for a theologically and biblically sound path forward for the American church out of its cultural captivity, I don’t think this book is it. I’d recommend the more thoughtful, church-centered approaches of writers like James K.A. Smith and Russell Moore.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    As my entree into Claiborne. I truly expected not to like this book, previously feeling like he may have been blown out of proportion by my evangelical friends. In truth, after reading this, it seems as though he may have been misunderstood by those folks--or else they've not found him convincing, or never bothered to implement his teaching. The latter seems to be the most understandable because none of the options for "being political like Jesus was political" are easy--they often require As my entree into Claiborne. I truly expected not to like this book, previously feeling like he may have been blown out of proportion by my evangelical friends. In truth, after reading this, it seems as though he may have been misunderstood by those folks--or else they've not found him convincing, or never bothered to implement his teaching. The latter seems to be the most understandable because none of the options for "being political like Jesus was political" are easy--they often require becoming ostracized by contemporaries, arrested by the powers that be, and/or being "hated by the world." This was helpful for me in forming a Christian politic different from the "vote for change" method that is advocated in liberal and conservative churches in the U.S. Instead, engaging the non-violent, loving, prophetic imagination of the Hebrew Bible and of Jesus, we can live out the politics of Christ. This book encourages to Christian to be prophetic, and to behave inappropriately, so that injustice can be exposed and a better (3rd) way of living--whether or not it effects immediate, future, or permanent change.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Sanders

    This book forever reshaped, re-ignited, transformed and saved my faith. Not necessarily in the Christian church, but in the life and teaching of the Jesus of Nazareth, called the risen Christ. It altered the course of my life forever. Shane opened my heart, mind and eyes into an alternative, indeed radical, way of understanding the heart of the Gospel message and its story. It also revealed the problems with evangelicals and America, and it got me involved with Red Letter Christians and inspired This book forever reshaped, re-ignited, transformed and saved my faith. Not necessarily in the Christian church, but in the life and teaching of the Jesus of Nazareth, called the risen Christ. It altered the course of my life forever. Shane opened my heart, mind and eyes into an alternative, indeed radical, way of understanding the heart of the Gospel message and its story. It also revealed the problems with evangelicals and America, and it got me involved with Red Letter Christians and inspired me to become more active in my church and community. This is the book that really got me going into reading Christian literature and theology, and led me to writers such as Tony Campolo, John Shelby Spong, and Marcus J. Borg. I love the unique and creative formatting of the book; it is very engaging. This book is for anyone that questions what they were taught as conventional, popular and as tradition. This book is for those who want a refreshed faith and who are looking to find a Gospel of social justice, compassion and unconditional love.

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