Shane Claiborne Post-9/11

I thought in the weeks following 9/11 this quote was especially relevant about the world we live in.

“I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, “Kill them all, and let God sort them out”.

A bumper sticker read, “God will judge evildoers, we just have to get them to him.”

I saw a T-shirts on a soldier that said, “US Air Force…we don’t die; we just go to hell to regroup.”

Others were less dramatic–red, white, and blue billboards saying,”God bless our troops.” “God bless America” became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, “God bless America–one dollar burgers.” 

Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.

This burst of nationlism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thrist for intimacy that liberals and progressive Christians would have done much better to acknowledge. September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual. and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community–for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to alone in their sorrow, rage, fear.

But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallied around the drums of war. Liberal Christians took to the streets. The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you would dress a wound. A people longing for a saviour placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God.” [1]

[1] Page 198. Claiborne, Shane. The Irresistible Revolution. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

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How Great Are Your Convictions?

This post is a conversation from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals. He is here talking to his grandmother, a Jewish survivor from the Second World War:

“I became sicker and sicker from not eating, and I’m not just talking about being skin and bones. I had sores all over my body…I ate things i wouldn’t tell you about…The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.

“He saved your life.”

“I didn’t eat it.”

“You didn’t eat it?”

“It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“What because it wasn’t kosher?”

“Of course.”

“But not even to save your life?”

“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

I read this quote in the school magazine as part of an argument for veganism, but I don’t think that that the grandma had that in mind at all. The quote is more directed at religious conviction–for her it was the Mosaic law. I am continually mystified by this Christian faith of which I consider myself a part, that would give up so much for God. Surely, we must truly believe in God to fulfill how much Jesus demands of us.

What convictions do you have, and how far would you go to save it?