[SSL83] Are You Failing the 3 Second Test?

It’s time for another Wednesday audio delivery – 

This is Soul School Lesson 83

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Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

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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.

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

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3 Rough Patches on the Way to Success (Henri Nouwen)

Some quick Housekeeping:
This year I won’t be posting 3-4 times per week, most of the time.

Since February 2009 I written 815 posts. I’ve put in the time. (Before that I had a Blogger blog (several actually), and a before that I had a Xanga blog (remember them?), and before that in 2004 or so, I sent weekly email articles to about 200 people, when word “blog” hadn’t made it to the vernacular. It adds up to thousands of articles.)

Plus, I’m at a season where my posts should be fewer. All this makes email delivery or a RSS feed situation optimal, because when I do post, I’ll have landed on some cool things I simply must write about. So, fill out the Feedburner button fields in the right column, and never miss a beat.

3 Rough Patches on the Way to Success (courtesy of Henri Nouwen)

As promised back in November, I’m sharing some of the gleanings from my required course work reading. The first book is a short, sweet work chock-a-blocked with wisdom by the beloved Henri Nouwen.

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Click title for book info. Bonus: It costs just a few bucks. ) In this book Nouwen makes short work tackling common 3 pitfalls we routinely encounter.

The title is a misappropriation because his advice is so helpful for anyone “on a quest” or trying to make their way. Be it an artist, blogger, writer, or just about anyone following a dream will encounter the very same issues Nouwen covers as he targets “leaders”.

He uses his own life and success in academics and leadership as the impetus and a background of practical knowledge and captures crucial insights on the things that most often beset us.

Nouwen was a revered scholar and professor at Yale, Harvard and other impressive-sounding places. Though everyone was telling Nouwen he was doing well, he noticed something deep down. Something just wasn’t right. Then, he realized his success was actually putting his own soul in danger.

“I was living in a very dark place and the term “burnout” was a convenient psychological translation for a spiritual death.”

I’ve been there! Have you?

He came to a point of spiritual dryness and removed himself from the life he knew as a talented academic and choose instead to live with, care for, and minister to the severely mentally disabled. He covers this quite briefly in the book. (In other books he mentions just how nuts people thought he was for the decision.)

What came from that choice is arguably his most memorable and lasting work. A host of profound and transformative pieces. To many some are bona fide Christian Devotional Classics.
To handle the topic of Christian Leadership (which I’ve mentioned may be cast more widely for many of us as success), Nouwen describes the particulars of Jesus as he was tempted in the desert. The lures and trappings of leadership (read: success) typical in this world are cast in sharp relief with the divine call of Christlikeness in one’s life.

It is a striking model for Christians to follow. Jesus was tempted to abandon his Kingdom mission in favor of acquiescing to the temptations offered up by Satan who promised success in the course and manner of this world.

Nouwen also riffs off intimate conversations Jesus has with Peter. They involve calling, leadership, vocation, and Jesus-style success. The heart of these exchanges give us insights to our own path to success and finding our purpose or way in the world.

The three temptations are labeled by Nouwen as the lures to be relevant (necessary, a cure for the world), spectacular (popular, skilled, apt), and powerful (influential or in charge).

Have you ever wanted those things as you reach for your dreams?  (Who hasn’t, right?)
Jesus’ response and subsequent choices are worth noting. Not only that, they bring solace for the journey.

The temptations experienced by Christ are shown as the archetype for the human experience in the realm of success (and any sort of leadership). The three kernels of wisdom include–

1. being prayerful instead of craving relevance

2. serving rather than desiring popularity found through skills and competencies

3. being led rather than focusing on power (leading/influencing)

It’s all very counter-cultural.

Nouwen lays out concise and clear arguments for these three and also includes which spiritual disciplines make the Kingdom way plausible (think of discipline here as “training” or “taking your vitamins”).

In a time were celebrity and influence (and even infamy) is the jackpot, just as much in Christian spheres as in secular ones, Nouwen speaks with a fresh and prophetic voice of wisdom that brings us to a path of peace.

In our strivings it’s easy to miss the presence of God, and even the mission of the Kingdom. It’s a quick trip to succumbing to temptations common to humans and not being people of Christlikeness. This book soothes the soul.

# # #

If you’re interested in delving further into spiritual formation, creativity, and learning for a full year, the private online community/learning group called The Cadre is forming right now. (100% free, and I’m not selling anything.) It starts February (2013), and there are about 8 spots open. Click “The Cadre” at the top of the page to learn more, or contact me.

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(photo source: http://evolvenetwork.com.au/wordpress/index.php/5-steps-to-bring-success-into-your-life/)

Jesus Had a Wife…and other Shtick

This post is related to the hubbub about a alleged artifact from 400 years after Jesus.

Here’s an article of that and some of the new surrounding controversy that will make the validity of such a finding dubious at best. Just when it gets interesting it leaves you with nothing. Much like this whole hullabaloo will.

Discussing that is not the focus of this post.

Also, the image above is not a painting of the first knock-knock joke:

Mary: “Knock-knock”

Voice in tomb: “Who’s there?”

Mary: “Mary…wait…um… you’re not Jesus, you’re an angel. What are you doing in here?!”

Voice in tomb: “Got ‘cha, Mary. Jesus is alive! and he looks a lot like the guy who takes care of this garden.”

The ancient papyrus lines in question (written in Coptic 400 years after Jesus) are in bold below:

The legible lines on the front of the artifact seem to be a conversation between Jesus and his disciples. The fourth line of the text says, “Jesus said to them, my wife.” Line 5 says “… she will be able to be my disciple,” while the line before the “wife” quote has Jesus saying “Mary is worthy of it” and line 7 says, “As for me, I dwell with her in order to …”

So, suppose this scrap contains the actual words of Jesus, could we solve the mystery?

Firstly, for context….remember the “Plank in the eye thing” Jesus said once…well, here’s the thing about that: That was Shtick.

So, maybe this is too.

Jesus said to them, my wife….I mean, should I forego this dying for humanity stuff, my wife will be a great cook. Ya’ll know I love grilled fish, right?


“…she will be my disciple, and I have a feeling she won’t be as big a pain in the rump as you guys have been.


Mary is worthy of it. And by “it” I mean R-E-S-P-E-C-T, yo.


You guys can stay over at Peter’s house, and for my sake, please patch up the roof from the other day. As for me, I dwell with her in order to get some freakin’ peace and quiet. You bicker constantly!


You probably thought I’d say, “Jesus said to them, my wife…take my wife, please.” right?

NOW—you fill in the blanks. Finish Jesus’ sentences. (It’s not stuff from the Bible, so don’t worry. It’s not sinning if you’re adding text and meaning to a Coptic gag reel.)



A Practical Guide to NOT getting an Advanced Degree

Detail from
Photo Credit: Arallyn! via Compfight

I’d love to save you save money right now. I love education, but I do sense that our system is outdated by 50-500 years. I can hardly think of anything more stifling to creativity and innovation than this strange situation.

So many people in the North America are getting advanced degrees, I’ve noticed. Have you? I see a boat load of cautionary tales in the whole matter.

First of all….Have you noticed how much advertising is directed at feeding the desire to improve one’s self through education?

It gives me pause.

An affluent country can create a whole education industry that can make little sense when pragmatic end goals are apprehended. Indeed, it already has!

It seems many diploma seekers actually don’t actually know what they want…but it’s hard to dismiss education as a waste of time. Yet, education has never be easier to get…and for free. I have a list of places. More on that in a moment…

Since the job market is horrible many are delaying entry into it or avoiding it by enrolling in a masters program, etc. This trend depreciates advanced degrees across the board, duh.

Really the industry have never been shadier since public school teachers have been required to earn a masters degree to keep their jobs. Programs spring up to meet the need and basically make the whole thing a mockery. Busy work and rigamarole replace andragogic excellence. You thought I’d say pedagogic, right? See how outdated the whole thing is…pedagogy is a medieval term. Yeah, right…so anyways…

For people who value high-quality learning and scholarship it’s an affront.

BUT Why do people enroll?
…lots of reasons:

• To add Credibility (maybe some resume fodder)

• To soothe something on the inside

• In hopes that new opportunities will open up

Though plenty of places will give you the paper you think you want…it might not give you what you are really looking for. I contend that it often won’t. (Seth Godin has hit on this too. It’s worth the read.)

The reality is that without careful consideration the results are more debt and angst than possibilities. A Masters Degree or PhD may help to land a college teaching job…except for the fact that there’s a genuine glut of people with advanced degrees and fewer jobs than ever. School budgets are being slashed. Everywhere. Don’t want to teach? Then an advanced degree is the wrong tact much of the time. This illustrates the point that system is quite broken.

If you are (or someone you know) is in or planning to enroll in an advanced degree program, remember to ask the harder questions. The why questions.

• Are you putting something off?

• Are you afraid of something?

• Do you need or want something that really isn’t about the credit hours?

In reality Success can come in numerous ways through the vehicle of technology. Times have changed.

If it’s really education that you want. That’s all cool. Free Education initiatives are underway at so many top universities, like MIT, CMU, Berkley, Tufts, Yale, Princeton, Norte Dame and others. It’s AMAZING. Check it out.

In the end it’s results and experience that give you success, not who you paid on your paper chase.

Success has a lot to do with creativity, hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance. 

I hoped I’ve saved you (or someone you know) some time and $.