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More on the book... - Livin' the Good Life

Oct. 26th, 2008

09:08 am - More on the book...

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Oh man! I'm so excited about this book! JESUS FOR PRESIDENT (by Claiborne) is my best read, yet. (Don't be fooled by the title. It's not what it sounds like.) The reading is slow because the content is very meaty.. and profound. I have to stop and think about everything, so I only read a page or two at a time. In fact, I keep thinking as I underline sentences, that I would like to post "just this one sentence" in my journal, because it is so wonderful. But, then I keep thinking that ALL the sentences are wonderful, so which ones should I choose? I'm marking up the whole book! Those who read this journal are just going to have to get the book and read it themselves. It doesn't matter whether you call yourself a Christian or a non-Christian. I think it speaks to everyone.

So, I want to address what I've been surprised about and what I'm still squirming about:
I'm surprised because, according to this guy, my life looks like that of a Christian far more than I believed it did. The many, many actions and attitudes that Claiborne identifies as "Christian" are those that I also practice and hold dear. Now, here is the squirming part: To Claiborne, one of the biggest parts of Christianly behavior is about how the poor and the destitute are treated. He says that we are instructed, by Jesus, to minister to the poor. And he doesn't mean giving to charity. He means going out and mingling with the homeless and helping them by giving them food, clothing, hugs, foot rubs, money, encouragement, companionship. Whatever they need. Invite them home for a meal, and treat them as a family member. Look them in the eye and see Jesus's face, and love them. (By the way, this is what Claiborne himself does. He considers himself a Christian activist.) Claiborne says that if ALL the "haves" would minister to the "have-nots" the condition of poverty would be erradicated. (Interestingly enough, he never mentions evangelism. He seems to be saying that by your life, and your example, and your great love of Christ, people will be drawn to being a lover of Christ. Now, that's my kind of evangelism!)
So, here's the problem: I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT. I don't want to bring homeless people into my home. I don't want to hang out with the destitute people under the bridge and give them foot rubs. It makes me squirm to admit that. But, I want to give to people I know and like. Or I want to give through cool organizations like HEIFER INTERNATIONAL (If you don't know about Heifer Int., Google it. It's really great.) I guess that makes me an elitist. I like the idea of giving to the needy, but to actually hang out with people living on the street is not something I plan to do. I do, however, really appreciate Claiborne, and of course, Jesus, for bringing this to my attention. I've honestly not given it a lot of thought before. And I will continue to think about it, because I do think it's important. I imagine I might not mind, and might even enjoy, working in a soup kitchen. And that might be as close as I want to get to the "under-belly" of society. I think Claiborne would approve of soup kitchens, but he really encourages people to "eliminate the middle-man" and just go out there and initiate contacts yourself by meeting people where they live and hanging out with them there. Whew! That sounds so unappealing. I have such a hard time even considering that.
Thank you, Claiborne, for making this case so elequently and convincingly. I have no doubt been influenced, and definitely enlightened, by this remarkable book you have produced. I'm sure I'll read it more than once. And, by the way, the actual layout of the book is a masterpiece. Every page is an eye-catching piece of artwork with lots of little details to pour over. The art, alone, is worth the price of the book. I urge everyone to just get it and see for yourself. (Check the library.)