Saturday, February 07, 2009

Shane Claiborne and Celebrities

Craig asked, "What's your take on Shane Claiborne? I didn't care for his book, The Irresistable Revolution, I didn't think it was well written and it seemed to have a "look at me" viewpoint rather than looking at Jesus. Should I give him another chance?"

My feelings about him are very complex. First of all, clearly, the book was well enough written that its a religious best seller. I think its a very popular, autobiographical style that is very interesting to his readership. Secondly, I'm really happy in general about the message he's getting out. I wish he would nuance his stances a bit, but overall he's heading in the right direction-- war is bad, poverty is bad, we need to stand up in Christ and do something about it.

On the other hand, I he's a celebrity. He's getting interviews everywhere, and even MCUSA was thinking about asking him to speak at Ohio this year to "pull in the young people." I don't like people being promoted because their famous. The thing that bugs me the most is that he hasn't done all that much about what he's talking about. He did stand with some homeless folks who were being ejected out of an abandoned church. That's wonderful. But does he really relate to the poor, connect with them? No, he's too busy travelling around the country being a poster child for "Radical Christian."

On the other hand, I have a friend who spent a bit of time with Shane before the publicity hounds attacked him. And he says that Shane is humble, kind, friendly and just an all around great guy. One of my other friends who had a chance to take part in an interview with him last night said the same.

What can be said? God is using him. He probably deserves to be used. What more really need be said?


Pam Hogeweide said...

hey steve
jessie and interviewed shane together last night. i am automatically suspect of anyone in the spotlight. is their message just a branding of an idea to create a livelihood or some celebritizing of themselves? For many, and we've seen it over and over again, yes, it is.

My impression of Shane from a mere 45 minute conversation with him is that he is the real deal. Plus, I know some people who know him and I know some other people who know some other people who know him, and he does appear to be living out his message to the best of his ability. What is against him is that he is a white male with a middle-class suburban upbringing and a college degree. Would I be less suspect of the messenger if they were an uneducated black woman challenging the masses to pay attention to the marginalized?

The other thing, is that anyone who is the point person of a movement or trend or whatever, is naturally under more scrutiny and will take more shots.

Is Shane Claiborne a friend or foe?

I say friend.

And really, it is a spiritual discipline for me to believe the best about people who are being heard and selling books and are white and male and educated.

Dude, Claiborne's cool. He appears to be living his message as much as he can in light of the national attention he has received. Will it corrupt him? I hope not. (it would likely corrupt me)

When I asked him, Who are the religious elite of our day? he answered, Me, it's me. And then unpacked a bit about the white male thing that is prevalent in American Christendom.

That, my Portland Ordinary Radical Friend, is a brother after my heart. And I don't care how white he is or how educated.

Blessings to you Steve. I am so delighted to hear of friends from The Bridge collaborating in your community. I like to think it is he beginning of a greater friendship between our communities.

Steve Kimes said...

I think you're right, Pam. I can't say much about the white educated male thing, cause that's what I am as well. But I think we all have a responsibility to speak up for the marginalized, no matter who we are. And if someone gets put in the limelight for it, then more power to them, I suppose.

I pray with you that Shane doesn't either get corrupted or too jaded.