By Jeff Goins, Editor
I spoke to Jamie Moffett on the phone a few weeks ago. I called him just to pick his brain and hear more about this Another World Is Possible DVD project hes putting together with Shane Claiborne, author of the Irresistible Revolution. We opened the conversation, reflecting on the question: What can we, who are dreaming of a better world, do to redeem the culture we see around us?
Jamie told me the story of how he and some of his friends at Eastern University (where well-known evangelist and social activist Tony Campolo taught) left the comfort of a college campus to join a group of homeless women in a Catholic cathedral.
It was there that they learned how to live in community, how to be amongst the poor (as Jesus expects of his church), and how to step outside of comfort and discover a broken world that demands change.
This was the catalyst for forming the faith community called the Simple Way in the Kensington district of Philadelphia, PA. These group of simples, made somewhat infamous by Shanes book, have become an example for young people who desire something deeper and more meaningful than modern evangelicalism or the American dream can offer.
Shane is coming out with a new book in March 2008 called Jesus for President. They will be embarking on a tour to promote the book and share the concept of re-imagining culture and American politics through speaking engagements, musical events (featuring their friends Me Without You), and other fun displays of creativity (Ive heard talk of their traveling circus).
The books subtitle is The Amish for homeland security. Jamie, who has a whole slew of talents including video and music production, is making T-shirts that feature the idea of putting the nonviolent Amish in charge of the United States homeland security. Jamie relates the past few years and how public displays of violence in schools and other arenas in the United States have seemed to become even more widespread: In a really sad way, Im becoming more numb to it.
All across the country, there was public outcry at the notorious school shooting in Pennsylvania where six children were killed by an armed truck driver in October 2006. The Amish, though having lost family members at the hand of this man, didnt respond with anger, but with love by visiting his family and asking if they could do anything to console them for their own loss.
So, Jamie postulates, What if the Amish were in charge of homeland security? What if we responded to tragedy like they did?
Claibone, Moffett, and company are kicking off the book tour after an annual outdoor music festival that takes place on June 19-22. They camp out, sing songs, and just enjoy life together for a few days. On the tour, they will be visiting 15 cities in 30 days. Along with their musical friends, a media team (led by Jamie) and a band of fire jugglers (that’s right) will join them.
Jamies facing a few logistical issues before the tour, one of which is the challenge of trying to find a minivan that runs on vegetable oil for his media team. He doesnt want the team to be a burden, but to pay its own way.
This segues into why I called in the first place: Another World Is Possible (AWIP). The title itself explains the project rather succinctly. Jamie and Shane have partnered to tell real stories of real people who are living their lives differently to be the change they wish to see in the world, as Gandhi would say.
AWIP is about sharing stories. There are four major parts to the video series: war, poverty, creation, and community. Jamie calls himself the eye to tell this crazy story. He defines culture as sending and receiving information. So, if we change the information that were sending, we can ultimately impact and change culture. This is, in essence, redemption.
He says that they want to share stories without exploiting the people behind them. For almost the past decade, Jamie, Shane, and others have been living amongst what many would call the poor, but they are people with real lives, real homes, and real feelings. For the longest time, Jamie struggled with how to share these powerful stories. Yet, he came to a point when he realized: If we dont share them these stories will be lost. Those stories are the basis for Another World is Possible.
The first segment called War takes a look at a group of peacekeepers who went to Iraq and were welcomed by the church in Baghdad. As American bombs shook the walls, Claiborne and others were gathering to worship a God whose family doesnt conform to man-made, geo-political boundaries.
The second segment is about poverty, of which Jamie says that its part of the American ideal to answer the question What do you want? and then to achieve it. We have all been told that we can be whatever we wanted to be, but thats not been the case for much of recorded history, says Moffett. Another World is Possible tells stories of drug addicts in Philadelphia, friends of the Simple Way, some who have recovered and others who are still caught up in the addiction. For many of them, though, there is more to their brokenness than just an addiction.
For the Creation segment, they will be focusing on stories of urban redemption, of turning the concrete jungle into gardens, of making ugly things beautiful again, Shane says in the intro video.
Lastly, they will be covering the theme of community. Human beings need community, and many are desperately searching for it. Everyone needs to be near other human beings. The Simple Way in Kensington attempts to meet that need in an authentic way, and this spark of redemption has caused a surge of these types of groups all over the country. We are not unique, Jamie says. What we have is really special, but its not unique. It can happen anywhere.
Another world is, in fact, possible, Jamie closes. The thing we need is love and hope. As he wraps up the near-hour-long conversation, we return to answer the opening question: If you asked someone, if they couldve made this on their own [without love and hope] they would say no. Thats whats redemptive.
- Life on Potter Street
- It Had Flesh On It: A Day With Shane Claiborne
- Kensington Fire: Simple Way Devastated
- Shane Claiborne: Irresistible Revolution and Beyond
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits Wrecked, and hangs out with homeless people in his spare time. He’s passionate about life, justice, and Pez dispensers.
Also, if you want to know more about Jamie and AWIP, check out these sites: