Epistles of Thomas

December 30, 2009

Jesus for President review

Filed under: Review — Thomas @ 15:54
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Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. 568pp. 0310278422, 9780310278429. BR526.C567.

This book which is in the youth library is a sequel of sorts to The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. The Irresistible Revolution was recommended to me by Helen and Mike and although I have been unable to read that book when Chris recommended Jesus for President I decided to read it and watch the tour DVD. I heard that Claiborne was speaking at Urbana yesterday so it seems fitting to review this book today.

As they state in the introduction, this is a book to “provoke the Christian political imagination.” To that end they begin with a selective survey of the Bible beginning with the Old Testament. Considerable time is spent looking at Jesus, not surprisingly. Jesus is represented as a pacifist facing off against the Roman Empire. Similarly, Christians today face off against the American Empire. This book is very USA-centric, focusing on American foreign policy and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, although they do attack nationalism as a concept: “Maybe it’s time for Christians all over the world to lay down the flags of their nations and together raise the banner of God. The Christian icon is…a slaughtered lamb” (197).

The main focus of attention is the US military with economic policy coming a close second. I find it ironic that Zondervan, owned by one of the world’s richest men, has published this book declaring that everyone should live in simplicity and share their wealth. Their pacifism and anti-war rhetoric is also ironic given that all 175 of Murdoch’s papers ran editorials in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I wonder how Claiborne and Haw feel about that.

Whether or not you agree with Claiborne and Haw this book is required reading for anyone involved in ministry among young adults or concerned with the place of the church in American society.

I was also introduced to Mark Twain’s poem The War Prayer. It was written in response to American military intervention in the Philippines but wasn’t published until 1916 (Twain died in 1910).

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