September 29, 2009

conspire! contribution

I was asked to contribute to the latest issue of Conspire! magazine. You can see it on pages 16 and 17:

Here's what I originally submitted:
So, you’ve read Jesus for President and it changed your life! You’ve now joined the growing droves of Claibornagains–those young, twenty-something white folks, growing dreads, leaving the suburbs, headed to the city to join or start a community and save all the poor people in Shane’s, er, I mean Jesus’ name. I applaud your idealism. I envy your energy. I covet your beard and I want your single-gear bike... But there are just a few things to take into consideration.

This isn’t youth group. As awesome as it is to live with all these people, it’s hard. I used to think that as long as you all loved Jesus, you could live this way with anyone. It’s not true. Some of us are meant for each other. It’s almost like a marriage. In fact, coming up with a written “commitment” is never a bad idea with this kind of thing.

Don’t be a tourist. When it comes to communities such as these, tourists are those that think they can move in for a year or less, develop deep relationships and save the city. This stuff takes time. A long time. Most of us haven’t a clue what God has in store for us in our neighborhoods for years. And don’t think relationships are any easier! For those that can only experience this for a short time, enjoy it, soak it in. You will get a lot more than you will ever be able to give in such a short time. And that’s okay. Just know that this stuff doesn’t happen over night. You can have a wonderful plan. But you have no idea what God has in store for you.

You’re not St. Francis. That’s right, birds probably won’t rest on your finger and tell you what’s been going on in the neighborhood. If one does, get a book deal and fast! My point is that you’re not perfect, you’re not the epitome of selflessness and God (and Shane) is okay with that. Maybe you’ll forget to recycle or compost. Or maybe you just enjoy a greasy hamburger or latte now and then. Don’t kill yourself over this.

This is not a new and awesome idea. Shane, nor you, didn’t invent this. The Holy Spirit has been calling God’s people to this for centuries. Know that you follow a long line of people trying to live in prophetic ways. And not all of them are dead. So, you would be wise to go find some of them and learn from them.

You wouldn’t be in this if you weren’t an idealist. I’m not saying you should check your idealism at the door. You’ll need it. You need those ideals, you need that hope that got you to this point in the first place. Just be realistic. Be practical. And constantly ask yourself is this sustainable?
Obviously, the magazine decided to cut my tongue-in-cheek statements about Mr. Claiborne. For the record, I really appreciate Shane and his work. I was more intending to make jest of the fanaticism surrounding him... he is a clown afterall.


Laurel Mathewson said...

i love it. your original was funnier, but at least they kept your wisdom.

brooke said...

i like this. a lot. i think it would be a good conversation starter for a wednesday or sunday night. interesting points made.

Unknown said...

this is great, Jason. I love your last line and reminder to always ask, "is this sustainable". Though, as I write that it occurs to me that even unsustainable, short-lived flashes of uber-discipleship bring value to our world in the inspiration it gives others as well as lessons-learned on the Way. May we all keep walking the Way with as much energy and clarity as we can muster in this time and place.

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