Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

I hope you enjoy the show!
You can help Spark My Muse by sharing the show with others or donating some legal tender.

Both = Love.
To donate (any amount at all is awesome)
click the button in the left sidebar and thank you for that, and for listening.



Evangelical Seminary is proud to host Shane’s talk. Click the image and learn more about a school that teaches and promotes incarnational servant leadership at a core level.

Shane’s Bio:

Shane Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern. His adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shane is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane). They were wed in St. Edwards church, the formerly abandoned cathedral into which homeless families relocated in 1995, launching the beginning of the Simple Way community and a new phase of faith-based justice making.

Shane writes and travels extensively speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. Shane’s books include Jesus for PresidentRed Letter RevolutionCommon PrayerFollow Me to FreedomJesus, Bombs and Ice CreamBecoming the Answer to Our Prayers – and his classic The Irresistible Revolution. He has been featured in a number of films including “Another World Is Possible” and “Ordinary Radicals.” His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over 100 times a year, nationally and internationally.

His work has appeared in Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been on everything from Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR. He’s given academic lectures at Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Liberty, Duke, and Notre Dame. Shane speaks regularly at denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe. Follow him online at:

Facebook: ShaneClaiborne
Twitter: @ShaneClaiborne


Shownotes (with links) from my conversation with Shane Claiborne

MIN 4:00

About 15 years ago Shane Claiborne and a few friends founded The Simple Way in the poorest section of Philadelphia where drug and sex trafficking became the main “industries” when the factories closed. Ever since then, he and his friends have been living in a communally within the neighborhood and serving the residents there in many ways.

I ask Shane, How have they sustained their communal lifestyle for so long?

Shane shares some things that have helped:

1. We are not attached what it should look like in expression or form as much as we have chosen to love each other and Jesus well and allow community to flow out of that.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If you are in love with your vision for community you will actually destroy it.”

2. Allowing it to change over the years, from a house with 12 people sleeping all over the place in one house with one bathroom to a village of 10 or 20 houses all in the same neighborhood.

3. Helpful wisdom from the outside from others who’ve been doing communal living for a long time (The Benedictine order, for instance: 1,600 years)


What is “new monasticism” anyway? Shane explains.


“Folks are really hungry for community.”


“In Western culture we’ve lost the art of community.”

In other parts of the world this is how people have survived.


Economically impoverished communities can be community-rich (places) because they need each other.


“It’s no coincidence that in some of the richest places in the world we have the highest rates of loneliness..and depression, and suicide.”


“We are made to love and be loved.”


Even the mega-churches put in a lot of effort into making small groups work well (because that’s how you find community).


New Monasticism (as lived out in the U.S. or other wealthy Western countries) connects us with an ancient practice that continues on (and is “life as normal”) in many places in the world.


What communal living in Christian communities looks like in different contexts…

“Sometimes it’s about renouncing materialism and the Kardashians.”


What happens when people pilgrimage to The Simple Way to learn what it’s about.

Click for resources from The Simple Way


On the romantic notions of The Simple Way…

Mother Teresa said, “Calcuttas are everywhere if we only have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.”


There is a wisdom in learning from other communities. Shane and others set up a network called the community of communities on the web which lists other communities like his. Example: Reba Place Chicago.



This way can get rid of the romanticism and allow people to experience communal living first-hand.

Monthly open houses at A Simple Way are on ramps (to learn about community).


It’s about not just believing the doctrinal statements but about living differently and finding out what that looks like.


We are called to not be conformed to this world. God wants us to use our gifts and talents.

“Non conformity doesn’t mean uniformity.”


On the 2007 fire that destroyed his home and many other homes–leaving about 100 families with nowhere to sleep and live. Shane was left in need within the community he helped.

The very surprising statement the Red Cross relief worker told him.


There are 700 abandon factories and 20,00 abandon houses nearby.


Their community has built a park, a greenhouse, green spaces for gardens. See photos at TheSimpleWay.org


How the neighborhood pulled together after the devastating fire of 2007.


As Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t stock up your treasure that moths… and fires… can burn up and destroy.”


Ministry is mutual and if we don’t have needs we can’t be blessed. (Lisa)


One of Shane’s favorite quotes:

“If you’ve just come to help me, you’re wasting your time. But, if you’ve come because your survival and mine are bound up together, then let’s hold hands and we’ll work together.”


This quote comes in and corrects the posture by which we’ve often come on a mission to help people and thinking with a wrong perspective.


His friend says, “We are born on third base, but we think we’ve hit a triple.”


We don’t need has much as we think we do.


On Shane’s take of the story of “the rich young ruler”:
He wants to inherit the kingdom (entitlement thinking).

(QUICK LINK: Read the short Bible story HERE.)


“For folks that are independent and self-sustaining it’s hard for us to know that we need God and other people.”


Independence is not a gospel value. We need interdependence. It’s good to need other people and to need God.”


Besides people wondering what happened to his dreadlocks, people ask Shane this question the most.


Sometimes we have to challenge our location. (The places) where we (live) end up or are built around (that which) counters (opposes) gospel values. Like “suburban sprawl” which was created to get away from the urban problems (we should work to fix) and keep us from doing good for others who need it most.

It’s about living a life, not where we do great things, but where we do small things with great love (Mother Teresa). It’s not how much we do, but how much love we put into every act (of serving God).


We must ask:

What are my skills and passions and how might they connect to this world’s pain and injustice?

Whether it’s being a doctor, lawyer, plumber, or whatever, simply do your part.


What REALLY happens to the “dreds”.


Thank you, Shane! Blessings to you and your work. May we find our place to do good too.

I’d like to find out who’s listening to the show. Please help out and take this short audience survey.
It will take about one minute and it’s 100% anonymous. Thanks for helping!
Click the box below.

Spark My Muse

AND Thanks for listening to the show!

Want to answer the Question of the Day?

QOTD: What is the “Calcutta” near you and what gift might you bring to it ?

(okay, that WAS technically two questions.)

Evangelized by a Rat Terrier: Communicating Faith with a Bared Belly

Today is Halloween and this book is a murder, thriller, in the religious dramatic fiction….hum.



Today’s post is part of  a blog tour Erin McCole-Cupp!

Erin is a talent writer and a helpful friend of mine. I got a copy of her new book that has done amazingly well on Amazon!
I was thrown back to the 80s—like in a totally awesome way.
(ya catch that!)
She’s stopping by today on her interweb book tour with a great story about her doggie superstar Sigma and a bit about her new book.
Now–Enter, Erin…

Thanks for hosting me, Lisa!  See, dear reader, Lisa and I go way back—way back to the 1990s, when the internet was something viewed on a black screen in tiny pinpoints of green light.  Lisa knew me through my first conversion, the one where I became a Christian, but I’m not sure she knows about my second, far more recent conversion:  that from cat person to dog person—and more specifically to a small dog person.

In Lisa’s latest (and wonderful) book Dog in the Gap, she wrote a chapter called “Taming,” in which she discusses how we humans are tamed by dogs. She writes that the mutual process of caring and being cared for by a dog, “…can, if we let it, carry over into our other relationships–this sacred act of taming each other.  Instead of tolerating each other, we go further in.”


I experienced this, more specifically what Lisa identifies in that same chapter as “mutuality,” starting this past Spring.  We were thinking about getting a second cat…


…because this one doesn’t like us.


When we arrived at the local shelter, we were shocked to find their cat residence virtually empty.  Apparently we’d arrived before the bumper crop of abandoned kittens was due.


“Well, let’s go say ‘hi’ to the dogs,” my husband said.  We went through the kennel and one of the residents made our youngest stop in her tracks.  She pointed and shrieked with delight.


“Tiny dog!  Tiny dog!”


Ugh.  I’d always called small dogs “hors d’oeuvres” or “light snacks,” good for nothing but barking at all hours.  And who on earth would want a tiny ball of noise called a rat terrier?  No. Thank.  You.  Still, for the sake of the kids, I gave in to a “visit” with the little guy, assuming he’d annoy them so much that they’d see some sense and we’d come back in a few weeks for our kitten.


When the shelter volunteer brought him in to us she warned, “Now don’t expect too much, because he’s pretty shy and takes a long time to warm up to–“


The little blur dashed in, threw himself down in front of us all, belly up for scratching.  His tongue lolled out.  He was smiling.


“—new people,” the worker finished.  “Wow!  Look at that!”


We did not choose Sigma.  Sigma chose us.



What did he do next that won me over?  Funny enough, it was the barking.  He barks less than I expected a little dog to bark, but when he does bark, it’s because he is trying to protect our pack.  Stranger at the door?  Get away!    Stranger approaching while the kids walk him?  Stay back!   Is a friend yelling near me, his Mommy?  Yowwowwowwowwow! You’re not allowed to bark at her! Rat terriers are known for being wary of strangers and protective of their territory.  We belong to him.


The most precious example of this I can give is the time a relative stranger accidentally tripped over my middle child’s feet.  Before he could apologize, Sigma jumped up, tapped the guy’s shins with both front paws, and gave a low warning bark.  Do not hurt her!  She is under my protection! 


As I apologized, the perceived “offender” said, “Don’t apologize.  That’s the kind of dog you want taking care of your kids.”


I’ve had a dog before.  I’ve never before had a dog who would clearly give his life for mine and my family’s.  I’ve read about heroic dogs before, but part of me always thought those were melodramatic stories made up to fill dead air on morning radio shows.  Now that I’ve seen the active loyalty of a dog, I can believe that those stories are real.  Siggie believes that we are worth heroic effort.


Sigma chose us.  We belong to him.  He believes we are worth heroic effort.  If “evangelization” means at its root “to bring a message,” Sigma has done just that.  He won me over specifically, not because of anything he demanded of me but because of my value to him, just as I am.  He was the first pet with which (with whom?  hm) I’ve experienced the “mutuality” that Lisa talks about in Dog in the Gap.  Yes, we feed him, walk him, rub his belly, anoint him with flea and tick preventative, and throw tennis balls around for him.  But he does for us, too.


I don’t know about you, but when I think of “evangelist,” someone on a stage comes to mind.  Someone with a podium and a microphone, slathering at the mouth with the Fire of the Spirit, hair gone wild with all the thrashing about he’s done, all in the name of igniting in his listeners the furious love of Christ.  Cerebrally, I know that’s not the only way to share the faith, but my tiny human brain didn’t have room for any more concrete image… until a “Tiny dog!  Tiny dog!” came into my family and made us a pack.  Our “Siggie Baby” is not powerful or smart or eloquent.  His evangelization of me was never about him; it was about showing me what I was worth to him.


That’s such a small way of reaching out, but it’s a genuine way that you don’t need a degree or an agent or a microphone to share.  We can—no, we must show others that someone on earth thinks they are worth choosing, worth claiming in love, and worth heroic effort.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful, charming way to entice others into seeing that the Body of Christ is a pack worth joining?  After all, don’t we Christians occasionally find ourselves perceived as slobbery, barking hors d’oeuvres?


So how do you dash out of your shelter and show others the vulnerable, bared-belly love of Christ?  Lisa and I tend to bare the bellies of our imaginations:  we write, thus inviting you into the very brains and hearts where we (try, at least) to make a home for Him.  I took particular delight in writing the character Cate Whelihan in Don’t You Forget About Me specifically because she espouses so many things that I think are, well, not so good for us.



I love Cate because she’s part of my pack, and, just like so many real humans I love just because they’re loveable, not because they agree with me.


I know I need to do that more in my real life, outside of my head.  I need to show, not tell, the people I love that I choose them, that they are part of my pack, and that they are worth heroic effort.  If the Son of God can do that for me—for every single one of us—and I’m supposed to be following Him, then I kinda don’t have an excuse to keep it in all my head anymore.


Do you?

# # #

Thanks, Erin!
If you are interested in the book, and gosh, you should be! Purchasing info is here.  The Kindle edition is available now.  The paperback will be available on November 1st (2013).
There’s also a Goodreads giveaway running now through November 15, so you can enter to win a paperback of Don’t You Forget About Me at this link.  

Enrollment is now OPEN for the Mini-Course in May! Dismiss