We got word from a friend—a mail-order customer who has become a friend because we sold him The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne—that the community in which Shane lives, The Simple Way, lost their main building in a huge fire. Gone is their educational tutoring center, their arts center, the micro-business tee shirt printer, and other spaces for their urban activism. Although most of the members of The Simple Way household live together in a building apparantly unharmed, Shane resides (when he isn’t on the road) in the building that was destroyed. He lost all his stuff and even for a guy who rails against matieralism, this must be incredibly painful. Loss of books, photos, music, clothes, personal mementos, yes, circus gear….
Shane is the real deal, and you should know we gave his wonderful little book a near five-star review at the website in March 2006. I was somewhat critical, though, for the counter-cultural schtick; I chided him for not offering a vision that calls forth involvement in the real worlds of the professions, business, corporate culture, science research, the fine arts, statecraft and such and suggested that the hard-core prophetic calling is not for everyone. Shane liked our remarks and gently thanked me. Although we rarely cross paths, I count him as an admired friend.
At times like this these little nuances of differences in approach fall to the ground, in ash, as it were. Here is a guy who has given up so much to gain the freedom of St. Francis; the freedom of Dorothy Day, the freedom of Jesus. He has thrown his lot in with the urban poor, has done much to better the quality of life in their Kensington neighborhood, and in their announcement about the fire, they spend more time offering up concern and arranging fund-raising for the hundreds of neighbors who have been displaced, they too, losing all their possesions. Our hearts are heavy whenever we hear of these tragedies, and they are too often. Yet when it is a friend, like Shane, (and a partner in the book world, no less) it feels harsher to me.
Here is the link to see pictures of the fire and to read the report from The Simple Way. There you can connect to a link to make donations, either to Another World is Possible (to help Shane and the Christian community of TSW) or the Kensington Family Fund. Please visit their website and spread the word.
If you’ve bought the Irresistible Revolution from us over the last two years–and alot of you have—consider making a donation to them to help them get back on their feet after this sad set-back. Be sure to pray that God in mercy uses this to exalt Christ, to call attention to His reign of peace and justice, and to draw others into the story of, as Shane puts it, being an “ordinary radical.” My hunch is the joyous pranksters of TSW will be back at it soon enough, but their neighbors will have a slower, harder go of it. Let us pray, and act.