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Authors Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw Discuss Their Book, Jesus for President

By Margaux Kay LaPointe, ‘11

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, authors Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw discussed their recent book, Jesus for President, in Falvey Memorial Library.

They called the lecture “Jesus for President, unplugged, librarian style,” as it was an adaptation of their 2 ½-hour lecture presented on tour in 21 cities.

Haw is a theology graduate student at Villanova. Following the book’s call to creativity and faith, he decided to make his home in Camden Houses, a community in Camden, N.J. Claiborne is a speaker, writer, and activist, as well as founder of  “The Simple Way,” a community of faith. He lives in the Potter Street Community in Philadelphia.

The authors arrived in a bus that runs on vegetable oil along with the Psalters, a singing group inspired largely by refugees. In a style similar to a sermon, the Psalters accompanied the lecture.

The lecture, as well as the book, was centered on imagination and creativity. Claiborne called the audience to “‘protestify’ – declare alternative ideas.” There are “beautiful ways of transcending greed with imagination,” he explained. “Jesus was teaching not just a way of believing, but a way of living.” This way focused on enemy love, and upside-down economics in which jubilee was celebrated and wealth was redistributed every seven years, he said.

Haw encouraged the audience to “be the answer we want to see in the world.” He explained creative, alternative economics, like the jubilee. For example, each member of the Relational Tithe gives 10 percent of their wealth to be redistributed to meet community members’ needs. Haw described this as a “human community with a divine wallet.”

America is a Christian nation, so there is a blur between Christianity and America, Claiborne said. He encouraged the audience to have a political imagination and to “be peculiar around election times,” as God called the Jews to be peculiar. “There’s a third way; something different,” he explained. “Christian, not Democrat or Republican.”

Claiborne further explained, “We cannot ask the government to do what the Church is commissioned to be.” He believes that people have a chance to act their opinion everyday, so “voting isn’t something that just happens on November 4.”

The authors also discussed some of the historical details provided in the book. Jesus was born in the midst of a genocide, and his actions were very political. Haw explained how many of the terms used in the New Testament, including gospel, Christ, Lord, and Savior, were reserved for Caesar and the political realm. Because of this, early Christians were considered treasonous heretics, he said.

Abraham and Sarah, as well as others, were called to trust in God’s strength. Claiborne and Haw said that they renew this challenge to trust in God over trust in an empire.

Margaux Kay LaPointe, ’11, is a sophomore from Lebanon, Pa. She is an intern in the Office of Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Margaux is majoring in communication with a specialization in public relations.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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