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The New Monastics PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 21 May 2007 12:30

On the American Public Media website you can download a podcast version of an interview of Shane Claiborne, a 31-year old founder of the 10-year old intentional community in north Philadelphia called, "The Simple Way." It's a wonderful example of intentional Christian discipleship. You can link to it by clicking here.

Listening to the interview, led by Krista Tippett, I kept thinking of my own life, of enthusiasm for a prophetic lifestyle that has waned over the years as a member of an established religious community. Many people might dismiss Mr. Claiborne and his community as 21st century hippies, or idealists. Perhaps there are similarities. But this group of Evangelicals, Catholics and others who had grown disillusioned with accomodation to nationalism, capitalism, and laws that tend to divide people from one another are drawing inspiration from the New Testament and its practitioners. Their heroes and models are St. Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa.

They are not at all drawing away from the world. Rather, they are looking at local problems in the inner city where they live and asking, "how can we creatively respond to these issues in the light of faith." I wouldn't be surprised if the charisms of mercy and wisdom might not be driving this community, with perhaps a whiff of prophecy as well.

One of the stories Shane told in the interview was of a married couple in their 50's who had never been able to have children. One day in their neighborhood they came across a young homeless woman who was six months pregnant. They decided to invite her to come live with them until she had her baby. They hit it off from the start, and after the baby was born, they welcomed her to continue to live with them. Eventually they told her, "You're helping us live our dream. What dream do you have, and can we help you follow it?" She said she'd always wanted to be a nurse. So they put her through nursing school, and took care of her child when she was in class. Now ten years have passed, and she still lives with the married couple, and works as a nurse. Her daughter is ten years old.

The married woman now has multiple sclerosis, but has a nurse living in her home to help care for her.

I encourage you to listen to the interview. Then look around your own neighborhood and see if there's something Jesus might be inviting you to do.

Shane Claiborne has also written a book titled, "The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical." You can find it at

If you want to read more about "The Simple Way," check out their website at

hat tip: Sue Gifford, Oregon State Newman Center

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