Shane Claiborne shared stories about compassion, reconciliation and faith with the University community. This Catholic Campus Ministry-hosted peace and justice lecture on March 26 and centered around the image of walls; we are fenced into communities of loneliness, affluence or poverty. For Claiborne, these walls can be torn down with the help and mercy of God. In other words, another world lies beyond the confines of isolation.
“Shane said that in order to make poverty history, it must first become personal,” David Gorman ’13 said. “We must love, befriend and struggle with the poor.”
Claiborne is a graduate from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. Claiborne is considered a peacemaker and has traveled to places like Calcutta, Rwanda and the West Bank. He has also been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“One of my favorite parts was a story he told about going to Iraq while the United States was bombing it,” Nick Pistone ’13 said. “He got into a bad car accident and Iraqis took him in and took care of him and his friends, even though their hospital had just been bombed by the US … he said that he was surprised there were so many Christians in Iraq. The response he got from an Iraqi minister was, ‘Christianity was started here. Americans didn’t invent Christianity, they just domesticated it.’ I think that gets at a lot of the issues of American Christianity today. We want to have control and safety in everything we do, but that’s not what Jesus did. He hung out with ‘the wrong sorts of people’ and broke laws of his time. He came to tear down walls, but Americans are so concerned with putting up walls to keep ourselves safe and comfortable.”
Claiborne is the visionary leader of a community in Philadelphia called The Simple Way. This group is devoted to helping create and connect faith-based communities around the world.
Claiborne has also written books including “Jesus for President,” “Red Letter Revolution,” “Jesus, Bombs and Ice Cream” and “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers.” His books have been translated into more than 12 languages.
“I was really excited to go hear Shane Claiborne’s talk because I’ve read one of his books (“The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical”) and I loved it,” Pistone said. “He’s a really inspiring guy, but also very humble.”
Claiborne has also been featured in films such as “Another World Is Possible” and “Ordinary Radicals.” Claiborne gives speeches across the globe at institutions like Harvard and Notre Dame and his work has been seen in Esquire and The Wall Street Journal. He has even appeared on Fox News and NPR.
Claiborne’s lecture at the University was titled “Tearing Down the Walls.” Claiborne explained that as we try and lock ourselves out, we are actually locking ourselves in. In turn, we end up isolating and harming ourselves instead of protecting ourselves.
“Along these lines, another quote he shared that really connected with me was, ‘Be careful when you’re climbing up the ladder of success. You might pass Jesus on his way down,’” Pistone said. “His message is that Jesus did not simply come so that people could go to Heaven when they die, but he also came to bring Heaven down to earth, to give people life before death, not only life after death.”
Claiborne emphasized that as students especially we need to take “our gifts” and what we learn at the University to fix the pain that people experience in the world.
“Let us not conform to the pattern of the world,” Claiborne said. “Let us take our deepest passions and connect to the world’s deepest pains.”
Claiborne also paralleled seeking a career to seeking vocation. In other words, it is not about whether or not you will become a doctor, but what kind doctor you want to become. It is through this dedication to life that we can obtain the eyes to see the lonely, invisible people, or the people behind the wall.
“Shane Claiborne was an engaging and entertaining speaker, who told lots of memorable stories about his experiences promoting social justice around the world and locally in Philadelphia,” Jack McLinden ’14, director of administration of CCM, said. “One of my favorite parts of the talk was his encouragement to use creativity to solve the world’s problems, especially regarding peace and justice, instead of resorting to violence. He demonstrated a true concern for people to love and be loved according to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ.”
This lecture was free and open to the public. A question and answer session followed the talk, as well as a book signing and reception.
“After hearing Shane’s talk, I can’t wait to graduate and have the freedom to orient my life around loving God and others in radical ways,” Gorman said.