By Josh Casper
I admit that upon finishing The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, my life had been ultimately turned upside down. The heart-wrenching stories and acts of faith among the poor and forgotten places of the Empire led me to tears as I laid awake on many restless nights. I wondered how God became so bland and lifeless among the worlds darkest places.
I felt that we were all itching for something new; something that got us excited about the Gospel other than our big air conditioned churches, bright lights and fog machines. (Though Ive only seen a fog machine once, I still felt it was a little ridiculous!) I, along with many others, felt as though we were becoming disillusioned by the Church. We were craving to be the Church we read and learned about on Sunday mornings; that same Church that ended poverty by giving of themselves until all their needs were met. (Acts 4:34-35)
I was excited to hear about Jesus For President upon meeting Shane a year or so back. The book was to be released during some of the most heated times of our nations caucuses. It would also be co-authored by Chris Haw, who is a member of the Simple Ways sister community, Camden House, in New Jersey. A week or so after it was released I made my way into town to discover its beautifully designed cover with the bold words, Jesus For President, and marked with the symbol of our slaughtered Lamb; a cover sure to probe the imagination no matter what religion or creed.
The book begins with a haunting realization of America and the way many of us grew up to see Jesus and Christianity. From placing our hands upon our hearts to pledge allegiance to the flag of the U.S.A. while somehow missing the cross that lies beyond the stars and stripes of our precious sanctuaries.
The term God Bless America had resonated new meaning in my soul. God bless America? What about everyone else? Does God really work through places of power? Jesus For President was designed and written to provoke the Christian Political Imagination, and as you read more and more, it does just that.
One of the first things you will notice is the beauty and intricate design of the book itself. (Of course, with special recognition directed towards the design company, SharpSeven) It is loaded with haunting and convictive images, but counteracts them with beautiful and gentle drawings of flowers, fabric and an art that forced me not to skip pages just to indulge my senses.
Further on, the book begins explaining the history of the early empires in our history and in scripture. Beginning with the Flood, to the Tower of Babel and on to the Exodus, authors Claiborne and Haw write with great depth and understanding of these fallen empires. It goes on to explain the most infamous and haunting empire of our history: Rome. After reading their examples taken from scripture, written history and its eventual timeline, America was starting to look an awful lot like Rome. (And we all know what happened to Rome)
One description of the empire came from a New York Times Magazine that stated: “What word but ’empire’ describes the awesome thing that America is becoming[This nation] fills the hearts and minds of an entire planet with its dreams and desires.” With great beasts come the little prophets, like Daniel in the midst of King Darius reign. Daniel chose to worship God and not the empire (a very dangerous move in the face of a giant beast). I cannot help but to see Shane, Chris and others like them as little prophets in the midst of a disillusioned empire.
I honestly had to ration this book! The pages grabbed me in each of their own convicting and beautiful ways. You will find some of the familiar stories from The Irresistible Revolution that warm and break your heart, as well as new ways to act as ordinary radicals. It is a beautifully written and designed book that I will most likely find myself reading over and over again. Jesus For President is sure to keep your heart beating for another world, because another world is necessary. It gave me hope that we can be the change; we have hope in a different way to do life.
On several occasions, I have had to explain my thoughts to friends and family. Ive had to explain that we are a different generation a people that should be set apart from the world. We seek different and better ways to do life. Instead of constantly taking the life out of the world, we are learning to give it. We are learning to take care of our world with love, justice and mercy.
Jesus For President taught me many things, but if anything, I hope that you would walk away from this book with the understanding that we vote for more than just a president; we vote for lives everywhere. Not voting would simply do injustice to those who have fought so hard trying to get the right to even step up to the polls. You vote for your brothers and sisters across borders and across streets.
Let us love our neighbors and our enemies as Christ tells us and may we always remember: Long live the slaughtered Lamb!
Three Degrees of Separation from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.
more on J4P, check out: Jesus for President Blog Tour
Also, check out more articles:
- It Had Flesh On It: A Day With Shane Claiborne
- Imagination: She is Gods
- Influenced by Shane Claiborne: Irresistible Revolution and Beyond
Josh Casper is a student at the University of Southern Mississippi who participates in various church ministries and community projects. Josh is currently majoring in Psychology and hopes to someday use it in counseling.