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.

I’d like to find out who’s listening to the show. Please help out and take this short audience survey.
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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.)



Dreams are something that have interested me since I was very young. I came across this poem and thought it captured the mystique and intrigue of dream life and I just had to share it.

by Mark Strand (April 11, 1934–November 29, 2014)

Trying to recall the plot
And characters we dreamed,
What life was like
Before the morning came,
We are seldom satisfied,
And even then
There is no way of knowing
If what we know is true.
Something nameless
Hums us into sleep,
Withdraws, and leaves us in
A place that seems
Always vaguely familiar.
Perhaps it is because
We take the props
And fixtures of our days
With us into the dark,
Assuring ourselves
We are still alive. And yet
Nothing here is certain;
Landscapes merge
With one another, houses
Are never where they should be,
Doors and windows
Sometimes open out
To other doors and windows,
Even the person
Who seems most like ourselves
Cannot be counted on,
For there have been
Too many times when he,
Like everything else, has done
The unexpected.
And as the night wears on,
The dim allegory of ourselves
Unfolds, and we
Feel dreamed by someone else,
A sleeping counterpart,
Who gathers in
The darkness of his person
Shades of the real world.
Nothing is clear;
We are not ever sure
If the life we live there
Belongs to us.
Each night it is the same;
Just when we’re on the verge
Of catching on,
A sense of our remoteness
Closes in, and the world
So lately seen
Gradually fades from sight.
We wake to find the sleeper
Is ourselves
And the dreamt-of is someone who did
Something we can’t quite put
Our finger on,
But which involved a life
We are always, we feel,
About to discover.

From Mark Strand’s Collected poems. 

Funny Friday: When Sleep is Boss (photos)

Have you ever fallen asleep in an odd place?

Standing up?

In the bath tub?

At the movies?

Sometimes, I get sort of a “sleep attack”. I don’t think it’s narcolepsy, but I’ll feel my brain start going into delta waves or something–like a sheet is being pulled down over me. It’s almost like passing out slowly.

If a cat is deprived of sleep first it goes insane and then it dies.

Cat naps are essential.

As fellow-mammals, I’m not sure that we are so different.

Sometimes sleep is the boss of us.

That’s why these 3 images were my favorites from a slew I came across. Which one do you like best?

sleepcat1Was this a wet cat trying to dry out?sleepcat2

Not sure about the lumbar support situation here, but I see a supple feline in complete relaxation.



Waiting for hotdogs? (This could end poorly)

Dream Control (learn how)

I’ve surfed Niagara Falls.
It was a hyper realistic dream that I could control. I woke up inside my dream and went down that thing about 5 times.
Loved it!

It’s called lucid dreaming.

I’ve been doing it since I was about 7 years old.

Did you know that you can Learn Lucid Dreaming! You’ll love it.

Even someone that can’t usually remember dreaming at all can learn how to remember more dreams (sometimes 3-7 a night). You can learn ways to control aspects of your dreams (great when you have a nightmare or nasty reoccurring dream), and even become conscious and prolong a consciousness while in a true sleeping/dreaming state.

It helps with anxiety, building good relaxation habits, and empowers you in waking life! You can have experiences you could never have, or problem solve in ways you didn’t think were possible. It’s a huge creativity boost too.

You spend 1/3 of your WHOLE LIFE sleeping, why not make the best of it?

I just published a Guide with everything you need to know at Amazon. (Sparky’s Go-to Guide for Dream Control)

You may notice that it’s co-written by Sparky Pronto…that’s another upcoming surprise. I’ll keep you posted with more news soon.

Even better, this Go-to Guide is FREE this Monday, 11.12.2012.

I hope you like it!

One More Thing:

Do you have trouble sleeping, or with nightmares or unsettling reoccurring dreams? Do you want to know what a certain dream might mean? Contact me for guidance. There’s no charge for a consultation, but I can only accommodate 10 requests.

So enjoy


Sweet Dreams!

Autumn & Mental Illness (Part 1)

bi-polar MacBeth art (by Wiktor Sadowski)

Is Autumn ‘Mental Illness Season’?
It seems like Autumn and Mental Illness come as a pair, sometimes. From what I’ve been able to observe, if one’s going to suffer with something mentally, it’ll usually be between September-Februrary. Seriously, have you noticed this? Think back. Let me know. Is it not enough sunlight? Too many emotionally taxing holidays? Too chilly? Something with barometric pressures? I don’t know. But, let’s get on the same page.

What is Good Health vs. Normal Health?
If you’re healthy and you get a cold once in a while, you’re normal. If you get colds more frequently, you’re “a bit sickly”…but still, mostly, normal. What about if instead of a headache, sore throat, breathing troubles, and cough, it is your brain that “gets a cold”?

There is no reason to believe that the brain (with regards to chemistry, function, nutrition, environmental influences, etc) won’t be susceptible to maladies too, just like other parts of the body are. Science shows us clear indicators of genetic components. So, one can be prone to bad knees, or tendonitis, or sympathetic nervous system brain issues that make one prone to panic attacks, etc.

Of course, when one’s brain is ill, things can go badly quickly. For instance, one may be one’s worst advocate to resume health or find healing, if it is thinking which is impaired. Somehow, the brain (or we could say the “mind”: feelings/emotions + reason/intellect) gets tossed to another category when we think of the frailties of human illness. Saying you “sprained your brain” isn’t met with the same sympathy as saying you sprained your back, am I right?

Do We Love the Mentally Ill?
It’s an “untouchable,” or at least uncomfortable, category where someone’s inherent worth, inclusion in community, or spiritual devotion can be called into question. “Aw, uncle Boss? Sure he did that, he’s been more nuts ever since his time in the military…”

It’s a category we may fear or avoid talking about. Lines separating sane and insane get drawn. Such determinations sideline love, undermine grace, and even harm the true gospel message. Being “crazy” means that some one is alone in a special way. The numbers of Homeless who have a history of severe mental illness is about 25% (2009 National Coalition for the Homeless study).

So, if someone has brittle bones, falls, and breaks both legs? He’ll probably get more compassion or understanding than someone prone to mental illness who undergoes a bout with mania ending in a spending spree. Am I right?

The facts tell us that mental illnesses happen, more “normally” than we may care to imagine. Yet, it is those who are ill in the brain who feel so isolated and rejected during their tough times, compared to people who suffer in other ways.

For my Disability Studies class, I’m reading and learning not just about physical, and mental development impairments (wheelchairs and special education folks), but also of brain illness (mental illness). These are all people of the margins. Truly.

Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness, by Kathryn Greene-McCreight (Brazos Press 2006), is one of my course texts. I highly recommend it. Kathryn manages her Bipolar disorder, is theologian (Yale), an associate Episcopal priest, and a captivating writer.

See the Book.

Depression is one of the most common brain chemistry issues. By the year 2020, depression will be the 2nd most common health problem in the world. Read the rest of the Fast Fact Statistics here.

Here are the Symptoms of Depression from Greene-McCreight’s book, page 170.

5 or more of these 13 symptoms over a 14 day period, or if these symptoms interfere with a person’s normal life is considered Mental Illness or in this case, specifically, Depression.

• Major changes in appetite or sleep patterns

• Uncharacteristic irritability, anger

• Feeling sad, crying more than usual

• Worries, anxieties

• Pessimism, feelings of failure

• Loss of energy, libido

• Unexplained physical aches and pains

• Hopelessness, guilt

• Inability to concentrate or make decisions

• Inability to carry out or care about personal hygiene (showering, brushing teeth, etc.)

• Lack of enjoyment in things formerly enjoyed

• No desire to socalize

• Recuring thoughts of death or suicide

Has this ever been you, or someone you know?

See, it’s fairly “normal”.

What are some ideas for helping those with mental illness? Your input is vital for this conversation. Thank you for your contributions, and spreading the word.

Here’s a Resource: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance 

In Part II of this series, I’ll cover the symptoms of Mania and Schizophrenia…and more is to come.