taking the words of Jesus seriously

The two authors of this blog post have been having a good conversation over the past six months and thought it might interest others as well. First, though, it seems like a good idea to give you a little background about who we are and why we have been talking.

Jim Brenneman is the president of Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana. The Mennonite tradition is part of the historic peace churches committed to Christian nonviolence, simplicity, and a healthy suspicion of power and nationalism. Shane Claiborne is an author and Christian activist committed to many of the same values. We have much in common, and appreciated getting to know each other when Shane spoke on the Goshen campus in 2009.

During its history, Goshen College did not play the national anthem prior to sporting events on campus. In January 2010, Jim and his leadership team made the decision to allow the college’s athletic department to play an instrumental version of the anthem prior to select events, along with a reading of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis (read more at www.goshen.edu/anthem). The decision gained significant national attention, and sparked some controversy among the college’s alumni, other Mennonites, and other Christians. Jim received many letters, calls, and petitions from folks unhappy with his decision. While some offered respectful critique, to put it simply, many did not embody the spirit of agreeing and disagreeing in love.

In the midst of the controversy, a conversation sparked between us that has been a gift. In fact, it has been such a gift that we wanted to share it with you. What you will read here are emails that we wrote back and forth over the course of six months. What’s just as important as what we talked about is how we talked about it because we live in an age when hateful extremists fill the airwaves and the art of civil discourse is in danger of extinction.

As people both committed to following the Prince of Peace, we believe we have a theological imperative to engage each other in dialogue because the source of all conflict is the temptation to believe that our particular point of view is divine, divinely inspired or nearly so. Modeling civil dialogue about disagreements is the first principle of Christ-centered peacemaking. We believe this dialogue offers the hope and possibility that we can learn from those we disagree with, because we both have. We continue to learn that being loving comes before being right.

Given the recent overturning of Goshen’s decision to play the national anthem prior to sporting events we thought it an opportune moment to make this conversation known once more. Welcome:

On Feb 18, 2010, at 11:56 AM, Shane Claiborne wrote:

Dear Jim, my brother –

I remember the lunch we had some months back there at Goshen, sharing some dreams and struggles, hearing each other’s hearts. One of the things that came up was Goshen’s desire both to remember its roots and distinctiveness, while also bearing witness in a fruitful and relevant way to the larger society. We mentioned the struggle over sports events and the national anthem or pledge… and I have continued to pray with you and Goshen for wisdom, as I was incredibly encouraged by the time there. I continually recommend Goshen to folks exploring education options — in fact one of our recent community members from The Simple Way is now there at Goshen.

My heart sunk a little this morning to hear that a decision was made to begin playing the national anthem at sports events (as I understand). I think there is a ripe moment right now in our culture for the Mennonite witness that is very unique. People have grown so tired of militarism, and are sensing the myopia of nationalism, and are questioning the patterns of the American dream (at least according to Wall Street). The Anabaptist witness and tradition is uniquely poised to bear witness in powerful and relevant way, and has a credibility that many of us evangelical types long for.

I can only imagine the various strains you feel as president there (and I can imagine as some of them are familiar!), and I was so very encouraged by the humility and courage you exude as you navigate the narrow way there at Goshen. Perhaps there is a way to be creative in all of this, to make sure folks see a unique witness — of creating a new song or pledge that says, “We love the people of the U.S.A., but our love does not stop at any border… our Bible does not say God so loves America, but God so loves the world.” Even having flags from Iraq or Afghanistan next to the U.S. flag raises these healthy tensions. I love your desire to move beyond “no” — the time for yes is indeed here, a time of moving beyond protest to protestifying… committing not to tear down without building up something better. For too long, we Christians have been known more by what we are against than by what we are for. I want you to know I am continuing to pray for you and would love to talk further … you always have an open ear. Send my love to Goshen.

Your friend –

Shane Claiborne, The Simple Way

———-

On Apr 20, 2010, at 9:13 AM, Jim Brenneman wrote:

Dear Brother Shane,

Greetings in Christ. As I have engaged with persons about our recent decision regarding the national anthem, I have been thinking a lot about your words and carrying them with me. And I have been looking forward to having the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with you, someone who I deeply respect and value. This decision raises many significant issues that we as Mennonites need to continue engaging, but which I also believe the broader Christian church is wrestling with.

I couldn’t agree with you more that the moment is ripe — perhaps, especially so among young Evangelicals — to hear a strong Christian (Mennonite) voice calling into question unbridled militarism, materialism, and nationalism. My hope is to continue to keep Goshen College in the center of that conversation, alongside you and many others. There is much work to do in that arena — with this country involved in two wars and the national debate continually more uncivil — and we can’t do it alone.

I am also committed as president of Goshen College to an honest evaluation of who our neighbors are, which I believe is also an outgrowth of our Christ-centered core values of compassionate peacemaking, global citizenship, servant leadership, and passionate learning.  For some 40 years, the answer to that question has most frequently been anyone far off in one of our many Study-Service Term (SST) locations, be that in China or Tanzania. Of course, such global neighborliness and awareness was and remains a central component of a Goshen College education required of all our students. In an odd way, Goshen College has been quite receptive to “Samaritans” far away, while tending to remain more distant to those right next door and down the street whose religious and political perspectives significantly differ from those more readily found here on campus. I believe Jesus invites us to live in the particularity of our “neighborhoods” — as you in The Simple Way community have done so admirably in a different way — even to the point of accommodation to some degree if it opens doors to common ground and true community, rather than closes them prematurely. Does this connect at all with your own experiences of learning how God calls you to be a neighbor to people quite different from yourself?

The playing of the anthem is a gesture of welcome to our immediate neighbors — whether they are students or members of this Northern Indiana community that we reside in — many of whom are new immigrants who see the anthem as affirming of their hard won citizenship or other long-time citizens of our community who have no difficulty sequencing their loyalty to God over their loyalty to the nation. We make this gesture — incomplete and insufficient on its own — as a largely (Mennonite) Christian community that is saturated (in a great way!) from top to bottom, inside and out, with explicit core values and years of ardent peacemaking commitments (conscientious objection to war, conflict resolution training, leading letter-writing campaigns against injustices, etc.), such that any student who comes to this college will have no difficulty understanding our greater allegiances and divinely peculiar practices as Anabaptist/Mennonite followers of Jesus.

I don’t presume to have answered nearly all your questions with these few lines, but I hope it sheds a bit of light on a rather complex set of issues worthy of thoughtful consideration. I leave you with a story. Recently, Goshen College hosted the African Children’s Choir in our concert hall. Their final number was the South African National Anthem, “Nkosi Sikelel’Afrika, ” a beautifully emotive piece. They stood at complete attention with hands over their hearts, and all this in a “Mennonite” concert hall. The crowd erupted with applause and a standing ovation. I wondered then, how many of us attending felt the irony of our sincere exuberance for these children singing their anthem, while our hearts sink or are conflicted at the playing of our own national anthem?  Differences abound, but the irony remains. I wonder how you would define what a healthy sense of patriotism means, as a Christian living as a citizen in this nation state?

I truly appreciate your candid thoughts, your winsome wonderings, and your brotherly love. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

In Christ’s just peace,

Jim

———-

On May 15, 2010, at 6:59 PM, Shane Claiborne wrote:

Dear Jim, my brother –

Thanks for your note, and for this helpful and healthy conversation.

I admire your desire to be welcoming and inclusive at sporting events, particularly to folks who may not share our Christian faith, much less understand the particular history and witness of Mennonites. I suppose the question that is always before us — whether we are a Mennonite campus wanting to be seekers sensitive to U.S. patriots or a mega-church wanting to be seekers sensitive to un-churched non-believers — in this:  How do we remain unapologetically uncompromising in our convictions, while allowing others who may not share those convictions to feel included and welcome. I have questioned the decision of mega-churches that have removed the cross from their buildings to make non-Christians feel welcome, and I would similarly challenge the decision to play the national anthem at Goshen’s sporting events. The reason is that I think it is a well-intentioned act of inclusiveness, but comes at the cost of compromising the integrity of the witness (and a very much needed witness).

This is a timely conversation. The Mennonite witness of simplicity and non-violence is increasingly relevant and fascinating to our world that has felt the emptiness of materialism, come to question the unsustainable patterns of “progress”, and has grown tired of militarism and war. What strikes me is that this intrigue is coming at the very time when many traditional Anabaptists are questioning their “relevancy” and their cultural engagement. There are many Mennonites that have begun to make steps to rethink or even compromise some of their rigorous convictions at the very moment when folks are beginning to listen and to pay attention to those convictions. In fact, I am finding that more and more Evangelicals and main-liners find themselves attracted to the integrity of schools like Goshen, while many of these schools are tempted to tone down their peculiar witness in order to make room for non-Mennonites.

I have been to Mennonite churches with jumbotrons and just visited a Quaker school that now has an Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). I imagine some of these transitions are attempts to be inclusive and relevant to the world around them, but I fear it could be at the cost of their own particular character… not to mention the very thing that has attracted many to them. I want to suggest that it is the very peculiarity of the Mennonite witness, including things like not playing the national anthem at sports events, that has begun to captivate the attention of so many.

Our world is so saturated with the fusion of nationalism and faith. The flag is on many church altars. And our money says “in God we trust”, while our economy reeks of the seven deadly sins. With this fusion of God and country, places like Goshen are bastions of distinction — where we are reminded that our bible does not say “for God so loved America” but “for God so loved the world.” The absence of the U.S. flag and anthem at Goshen should always remind us that we have an allegiance that runs deeper than nation or country.

I just had a chance to read over the words of Francis Scott Key’s 1814 poem that has become the national anthem – but there are lines that make my heart ache in their triumphalism and glorification of defeat. The rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air seem to stand in stark contrast to the love of the cross where we see a God that loves his enemies so much he died for them.

“O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation; Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free und the home of the brave!”

We must ask, could this national anthem riddled not be an obstacle to Christ rather than an invitation towards Christ?  The god of the national anthem may be the god that we called upon when we took this land from natives and developed it with kidnapped Africans, but it is not the God I know or that I see in Jesus.

It strikes me as such a contrast to the beautiful words of Jesus in the sermon on the mount commending us to love our enemies, the beatitudes blessing the peacemakers and the meek and the merciful, the prayer of our Lord teaching us to forgive as we want to be forgiven, and the fruits of the Spirit that include things like gentleness, kindness, and goodness.

As I have said, I am very grateful for you, for your friendship, and for this conversation.

Your brother,

Shane Claiborne

P.S.

I am a big believer that the best critique must offer something better than what exists, so I find it my responsibility not just to tear down but to build up, not just to protest but to protestify. How about this idea?  Invite folks to sing the Lord’s Prayer… I find that even my non-Christian friends love this prayer. Or if that feels too sectarian – have a moment of silence to remember those who suffer in our world and allow the silence to be pregnant with the hope that one day all suffering will end…. And then let the games begin.)

———-

On Jun 5, 2010, at 10:19 PM, Jim Brenneman wrote:

Greetings Brother Shane,

It was good to hear from you again recently. One of the issues apparent to me in our conversation so far is what I sense is a blurring of the lines between the body politic of the church and a Christian liberal arts college. I think these distinctions are important to keep in mind, just as I think it is important to distinguish between the individual, his/her various communities, institutions, the nation state, the “world”, the kingdom of God, and the Jesus movement. There are many places these categories overlap significantly.

In short, I believe the church as the social embodiment of Christ is called to be more ideologically “pure” or, to use your words, “uncompromising in its convictions” than a Christian liberal arts college can or should ever be. For example, we have to adhere to government regulations with respect to financial aid practices and accreditation expectations of our “secular” associations in ways that a church does not. In addition, in ways that are not true of churches, some Christian liberal arts colleges, such as Goshen College or your alma mater, Eastern University, rightly have legitimate stakeholders in their extended communities (students, alums) that may not be Christian, may not even be believers, or are of a variety of truly faithful Christians who disagree with each other on very fine points of theology or practice. Goshen College is a Mennonite college to be sure, but it is also more than that, and has to be.

From where I stand — within the Mennonite tradition — I’m not sure we have adequately appreciated the fact that 200 years before the ideas of separation of church and state or the right of the minority to be protected by the majority were enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — or throughout Western democracies — our ancestors were martyred for those very beliefs. In a most unexpected way, the argument won the day and “we the Anabaptists/Mennonites” helped create and become “we the people” of a democratic state by the nonviolent force of the great idea. Whether for the good or not, many Mennonites have not quite been able to acknowledge that legacy in the public rituals of nationhood without feeling deeply conflicted. I would dare say that we even struggle with some forms of arrested development because of this, having never developed an Anabaptist articulation of positive civic engagement. For some Mennonites, the practice of playing the anthem even in this narrowly proscribed way, has offered a liberation of sorts. For still other Mennonite believers, playing the anthem has never been an issue. So there you have it: peace-loving Mennonites are not completely united on this practice either.

I’m sometimes baffled, but increasingly gratified, by how inclusive God’s embrace of others can be who disagree with what I believe to be Christ’s take on peace. For a pacifist like me, the account of Cornelius and Peter in Acts 10 is amazing. The author Luke could easily have let slide the fact that Cornelius was a Centurion in the Imperial Roman empire. He could have simply called Cornelius a Gentile. He didn’t. Ironically, we have used this story as an interpretative lens for almost every other effort to expand the Christian church to include other groups or people shut out. And yet, we seem to overlook the fact that the central character in the story being filled by God’s Spirit was a Roman military person in one of the most oppressive occupying forces in Judea’s history. Unbelievable! And yet that’s what happened. So, I’m simply inviting us, perhaps, especially Mennonites, to come to terms with this text in welcoming others, trusting our core values to help transform them and us by studying, learning, and being together.

Which brings me back to the anthem. I concede that the lyrics do have a militaristic tone as you pointed out. But if you’re a strict constructionist, remember that the “bombs bursting in air” were directed at those who were singing the song. As the victims, they aren’t celebrating the military might of their enemies, rather they are celebrating withstanding the onslaught. The lyrics gave hope for freedom.

I appreciate your suggestions of other practices that might have been ways to begin our sporting events. And though your specific suggestions aren’t quite the approach we are taking, I can say with confidence that there is no way an attendee at one of our games could confuse the way we have implemented this practice with the way the national anthem is played in some other settings. In contrast to fighter jets flying over and military bands playing, we first share words about the college’s core values and commitments to diversity and hospitality, a beautiful instrumental version of the song is then played (one that was written for the 2004 Olympic medal ceremonies) and then the powerful Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is read. I believe this provides just the kind of neighborly witness GC can give without compromising our deepest values of being compassionate peacemakers. Indeed, it is a kind of peacemaking of the “yes and amen” variety that is a bit new for GC. My hope is that even in participating in this national ritual, our witness to Christ’s peace can be heard and felt in clearer and stronger ways, particularly by people for whom this message might be new.

Shane, I would be most interested in hearing your reflections on two related things: Are all forms of national ritual by definition idolatrous? And as a Christian living in a national state, is there room in your life for any form of patriotism, and if so, what does that look like?

Thank you for your continued engagement in this important conversation; I am enjoying thinking these things through with you!

Peace,

Jim

———-

On Jun 21, 2010, at 3:03 PM, Shane Claiborne wrote:

Brother Jim –

I will respond briefly to a few of your points in the last letter you wrote, but mostly I want to thank you in this final letter.  And I hope this conversation and friendship continues in the years to come.

I share your desire for the church to be socially and politically engaged, not simply withdraw into our own little world. Part of our work in the book Jesus for President was to provoke the political imagination of the church – to encourage Christians to engage the world we live in, to read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.  I also know that the real question we have to ask is not “are we political” but “how are we political”… and Christians at their best have always been peculiar in how we engage the world, nations, politics, and powers of the empires around us.  We don’t settle for political camps, but transcend them as Christ did.

The early Christians constantly wrestled with the collision of kingdoms, and their inability to serve “God and Country” as it were… no longer celebrating the festivals of the empire, its wars or games.  Great quote by Tertullian here…

We are charged with being irreligious people and what is more irreligious in respect to the emperors since we refuse to pay religious homage to their imperial majesties and to their genius and refuse to swear by them.  High treason is a crime of offense against the Roman religion.  It is a crime of open irreligion, a raising for the hand to injure the deity… Christians are considered to be enemies of the State… we do not celebrate the festivals of the Caesars.  Guards and informers bring up accusations against the Christians… blasphemers and traitors… we are charged with sacrilege and high treason… we give testimony to the truth.   – Tertullian

We both celebrate that Jesus was an incredible bridge-builder.  He was continually challenging where God is at work and who the Spirit can use — Samaritans, prostitutes, tax-collectors, and centurions.  All are being transformed — which seems to be a noble goal of inclusivity — that all would be called to the best of who we are in Christ, new creations.  No longer do we live in the polarizing dualities and political camps or pious impossibilities — but rich and poor, zealot and tax-collector, oppressed, and oppressors are all being set free and being formed into a new family.

As for your question about whether there is a place for national ritual or patriotism?  My simple answer would be:  “A love for our own people is not a bad thing, but Christian love doesn’t stop at any borders.”  I think the terrible shortcoming of patriotism is that we begin to think that our nation’s people or our family’s lives are more valuable than the lives of folks somewhere else –  with different colored skin or another language or religion.  We protect our family or our nation with an idolatrous fervor (I once heard someone say an idol is something you would kill for and sacrifice your children for… which I would say is precisely the language of nationalism and the nature of flags).  I would also suggest this is exactly what Jesus is hinting at when he tells the disciples they must forsake (even hate) their own family in order to be his disciple. We must have a love that is far bigger than the myopic love of biology, tribe, ethnicity, or nation. Moreover, when we mesh God and country we face the grave danger of taking Gods name in vain as we print it on money. Our money can say “in God we trust” while our economy reeks of the seven deadly sins… and what becomes at stake is not just the reputation of America, but the reputation of Jesus and the gospel.  Branding America “Christian” runs the risk of excusing our amnesia of the past as we forget the slaughter of indigenous people or the kidnapping of Africans. Patriotism often accommodates this amnesia, but the truth will set us free.  When we are honest about our past, and are able to celebrate the best of America while lamenting the worst of America it makes room for that freedom. Finally, as Christians we always have to insist that no matter how great our country is, we are still called to see our deepest allegiance is to the Kingdom of God that transcends national borders, reconciles foes, loves enemies, and blesses the meek not the proud. We are still called to come out of Babylon, even if we live in the best Babylon in the world.

Back to the Anthem.

Who woulda thunk of an instrumental version of the national anthem followed up by the prayer of St. Francis!!!  Hahahaha.  It does seem to have a certain “peculiar” charm about it.  It is a peculiar way of doing a sports event. It has the dazzle of the “third way” of Jesus that carves out a new path amid poles.   The national anthem seems like a funny opening band but I think it may work, brother.

At one point I remember someone suggesting we needed to update our national anthem a bit and they started campaigning to change the U.S. national anthem to the Queen song “We Will Rock You” — It didn’t work, and that’s probably a good thing, as that would have been hard to follow up with the St. Francis prayer.

It also seems clear that the primary work of Goshen (and of all Christians) is to woo people to God and God’s kingdom. That does not happen through force, but through fascination. It happens as we get outside of ourselves, stop preaching to the choir… and allow the distinctiveness and peculiarity of the Christian logic and witness to interact with the world around us.  I pray that your decision(s) there at Goshen do just that… invite new people into a relationship with God and God’s Kingdom.

I am so grateful for the candor and honesty we have been able to have in these letters.

Not only is it an important conversation, but I feel like what has been just as important as what we have talked about is HOW we have talked about it. Our ability to have civil discourse, even amid disagreeing, is a healthy witness to folks who may listen in at some point.  I’m sure you get lots of aggressive letters from folks who challenge or disagree with you… as do I.  It seems that healthy dialogues like this one are in danger of extinction.  Folks on both the left and right demonize each other and often exude an arrogance and pretension that isn’t very fun to listen to, nor does it bear much fruit.

I am reminded by our conversation here that – while it may be important to be “right”, it is just as important to be nice. And plenty of conservatives and liberals have taught us that you can have all sorts of ideas and ideologies and still be mean — and when you are mean no one really wants what you’re selling anyway.

I am also reminded that our critics are our best teachers. We learn far more from folks who are going to push back and challenge our ideas, than we do from people who simply parrot “amen” to everything we say.  You have pushed me to think about this issue in new ways.

The rabbis of old used to say truth is like a diamond – as you turn it, the stone looks a little different, and the light radiates in new ways as you move it.  Thanks for sparring a little with me on this issue.  It also occurs to me that, just as our world is in need of civil conversation on tough issues, our world is also starved for imagination and for joy.  I pray that we will have the imagination not to think in dualities but to think with imagination, to look for a third way amid poles as we have here. Playing the instrumental version along with the Francis prayer may very well create that third way – that will invite some sectarian Mennonites to get out of our bubble a bit, and invite some patriots to find a new hero in Francis and to pray his prayer for peace.

You will continue to be in my prayers.  Keep me in yours.  Perhaps a good prayer for both of us is that we would be as wise as serpents and as innocent of doves… that we would have the imagination and the character of our Lover Jesus.

Your brother –

Shane Claiborne

———-

On Sep 9, 2010, at 6:18 PM, Jim Brenneman wrote:

Brother Shane,

Greetings once again. I appreciated your last letter and it is clear to me that though we may not fully agree on the question of Goshen College playing the national anthem at select sporting events, we have far more in common than not. I agree with you that our first allegiances must be to God above and beyond all others, that our love, like God’s, must know no boundaries, that our practices must model the nonviolent way of Christ.

In our opening convocation at the beginning of this new school year, I suggested to the students that being a Christ-centered college first and foremost is an open invitation to a conversation about Jesus Christ. Insofar as scripture itself testifies to a variety of differing characterizations of Christ – the four gospels alone offer a varied picture – our own claims must be made with modesty. I have so appreciated the modesty you have shown in sharing your heart felt convictions about Christ’s claim on us.

I also suggested to the students that one of the most important criteria for assessing the authenticity of Christ-centered claims, is whether or not Christ has, indeed, broken down the walls of separation, the walls of segregation, walls between people who differ from each other, whether because of gender, social, racial, denominational, religious or cultural factors of one kind or another (2 Corin. 5: 11-6:2; Ephesians 2:11-22). Such a claim can be quite easily measured by asking the simple question: Are there fewer barriers, walls, obstacles between people who differ from each other by race, creed, culture, gender, denomination, or opinion, today in our churches, in our college and in our community, than there were yesterday? How we answer that question determines, in my opinion, to what degree one can claim to be transformed by Christ. Whatever particularities we claim to have that separate us from each other, however tenacious we hold on to them, it seems to me, that being transformed by Christ will play itself out in a quite “generous orthodoxy” that lowers the walls of separation to (mere, though important) thresholds of reconciliation to step across, to pass through. I pray the decision about playing the national anthem at Goshen College would be one such mere threshold of difference between fellow Christians, not another wall of separation.

Several days ago, we sent a group of Goshen College students for a semester to our first Study-Service Term in Egypt. They left as pilgrims and ambassadors. As pilgrims, they will encounter the intersection of two great faith traditions, live alongside Muslims and Christians, listen and learn from each other. They also go as ambassadors of Christ who calls them to break down walls and to cross thresholds of listening and learning. Not incidentally, to those they encounter in Egypt, they will also be identified as ambassadors of their homeland, the United States. It is in this unavoidable particularity (i.e. how others see us) that invites them to embrace their own national citizenship, model global citizenship, and witness to the inclusive citizenship possible in Christ. These need not ever be mutually exclusive loyalties, though they sometimes are.

I’m writing to you on the eve of 9/11, that day when we will remember again those killed of all faiths in the Twin Towers, the fields of Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, and, of course, the hundreds of thousands killed since in the wars that followed. What a tragedy. Can Christ really break down the walls that led to such evil? Can Christ break down walls that separate a Muslim from a Christian? One Christian particularity from another? A Democrat from a Republican? Can Christ break down the walls that separate us by racial, ethnic and cultural prejudices? Can Christ break down walls of separation between people from different social classes and philosophical persuasions as well? Can Christ break down walls that divide an anthem-singing citizen from a citizen who does not? If we cannot learn to agree and disagree in love, especially on what seems to be lesser matters of distinction, then what hope is there for true reconciliation to happen, ever? That’s why I find this exchange so heartening because it is a sign, a foretaste, that the answer to all the looming questions above is a resounding, “Yes! And Amen!”

Shane, I have truly appreciated this opportunity to dialog with you these past months by letter. I look forward to those opportunities we will again have to sit across the table face to face, breaking bread, drinking the fruit of the vine, sometimes agreeing and other times disagreeing, but always doing so under the Lordship and loveship of Christ.

In Christ’s just peace,

Jim

—-
Shane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way.  He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world.

Jim Brenneman has been president of Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, since 2006. He was a the founding lead pastor of Pasadena Mennonite Church in Pasadena, California, and spent 26 years there. He is also an Old Testament scholar and author of On Jordan’s Stormy Banks: Lessons from the Book of Deuteronomy and Canons in Conflict: Negotiating Texts in True and False Prophesy.


About The Author

mm
https://www.redletterchristians.org

Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, renowned activist,
 sought-after speaker, and self-proclaimed “recovering sinner.” 
Shane writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, 
social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of several books 
including "The Irresistible Revolution," "Jesus for President," and his 
newest book "Executing Grace." He is the visionary
leader of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and co-director of Red Letter Christians. His work has been featured in Fox News, Esquire, SPIN, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and CNN.

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