Plotting Goodness Together: An Interview with Shane Claiborne


Shane Claiborne doesn’t write books that tell you how to live. He writes books that he's living. At 38 years-old, Claiborne has become a leading figure in the New Monasticism movement. He is co-founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia, PA and someone who believes Christians should engage the power structures of our day just as Jesus did. Claiborne always has a fresh twist on contemporary life that challenges everyone to rethink their walk with God. He’s the author of several books including The Irresistible RevolutionJesus for President and Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers. Here he talks about church, politics, and co-writing Red Letter Revolution with Tony Campolo.

JM: Why was it important to have a multi-generational point of view in your book Red Letter Revolution?

SC: Tony Campolo and I both speak a lot, and we began to notice that there were some crowds of old folks that desperately needed some youthful energy, and there were other crowds of young folks that desperately needed some aged wisdom. There is a certain power when old and young come together—we can do more together than we can on our own.

When we were starting our community a bunch of older Benedictine nuns said to us, “If you have any questions or want to pick our brains, please do—we’ve been doing community for about 1,500 years together so we’ve learned a few things.” In fact, one of my closest friends and mentors is an 80-year-old nun who’s as wild as they come. We’ve gone to jail together many times for protesting bad laws. (It’s always a good idea to have a nun next to you when you get arrested!) Whenever folks say radical Christianity is “a phase” of youth, I tell them they need to meet our 80-year-old nun or my friend Tony Campolo . . . they’ve been in the “phase” of radical faith for 50 or so years now.

So it was a gift to write this book with an old man with no hair, but who has dreams as I do. There’s something beautiful about that Scripture that says, “Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). We need each other. There is power when the old and young dream together. The dreams get anchored in aged wisdom not some utopian fantasy. Every 70-year-old needs a young person in their lives to mentor, and every 20-year-old needs a senior.


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