Monthly Archive: November 2009

Can radical book tours change the world?

Over at Jesus Manifesto, Mark Van Steenwyck offers a challenge to the social-change-through-book-tour model:

It seems to be assumed that the way we can build a movement in our society is by wring books, building platforms, and then touring around using our amassed social capital to woo large numbers of people to being a part of the movement. This often, it seems to me, leads to a sort of coopted radical space where folks never have to go beyond the figure head who is leading the movement.

As more and more Christians in the US begin to wake up to the radical message, the question of “So what next?” becomes more and more important. Though Mark names Pete Rollins as the inspiration for his post, he just as easily could be talking about Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson Hart-Groves, the authors of the New Monasticism movement. It seems that every couple of months, I see a new book out from Jonathan or Shane. I’m sure they are all quite good, but I’m not convinced they are pushing the envelope much beyond Irresistible Revolution, a book that clearly reached a new evangelical audience with a message of radical, Jesus-centered Christianity. Many new Christian Peacemaker Teams recruits continue to tell me Shane’s first book was the where they first heard about CPT.

So, you say that social change isn’t about writing books and touring (or blogging for that matter)? Then what is it about?? (more…)


The day is soon approaching when people all over America will be rushing to the malls and shopping centers to get the best deals of the year. Black Friday- the day stores move from red to black in their sales margin, fueled by a culture of over-consumption (and perhaps also the left over energy from a day of over-eating). Millions will wake up before the sunrise to fill their carts with the latest gadgets, half-price sweatshirts, and 3-for-1 boxes of chocolate. A lot could be said about the cultural ideology that makes such a bizarre event seem normal, but instead I want to offer a constructive alternative. If you would rather sleep in on Friday and save money by not spending it in the first place, then you should check out this link:


Buy Nothing Christmas is a Mennonite-run campaign that stems from the Buy Nothing Day campaign of Adbusters magazine. Buy Nothing Day challenges the consumerism of Black Friday by asking people to buy nothing the whole day. Inspired by this challenge, a group of Canadian Mennonites decided to take it even further by asking people of faith and conscience to make no Christmas-related purchases throughout the whole season, addressing both the over-consumption of our culture and the fact that Santa gets more attention than Jesus these days. Instead they advocate making your own presents or offering gifts of time. The website is full of beautiful ideas to fill the holiday season with true joy, the kind that comes from family and friends, not stuff.

Anabaptist Geek Comic strip of the Year: Parade of ever fancier toys

I’m not sure if I’ve ever posted a cartoon on YAR before, but today’s xkcd 3 panel brought together a rare combination of critique in the spirit of Anabaptism and geek cynicism (not to be confused with Diogenes).

Anabaptist Droid comic


For those non-geeks among you, the Droid is Motorola’s latest cell phone response to Apple’s I-phone. App is slang for applications that run on those two phones. Oh, and Diogenes was a Greek who founded the Cynic school of philosophy. He lived in a tub.

In Other News

Maple City Health Care Clinic wins the Anabaptist clinic of the year award. From the NPR story:

Last fall, when the unemployment rate in Elkhart County, Indiana, topped 10 percent, clinic workers began noticing that patients weren’t showing up for appointments. Turns out they couldn’t even come up with a few bucks for an office visit.

So James Gingrich, the clinic’s medical director, decided to tap his patients’ skills and resources instead. The clinic began offering $10 an hour toward health care if a patient volunteered at another non-profit organization.

Lord of the Rings and Star Wars geek honey pot

Timor Leste & Detention

Well I am sitting down, forcing myself to write this. I’ve been back in my community in Perth Western Australia for about 2 months — I guess that’s long enough. The title is a lame attempt to sum up what the content of this entry is – you know like titles used to. I’ve not written for a while a number of reasons; writers block call it.

My wife and I were refused entry to the UK in early September, this event adding further interest to our Sabbath year. (We have been involved in a car accident, were in Melbourne at the time of ‘Black Saturday’, an old friend was murdered, we were not paid for work we did in Australia … I’m sure theres more)

Our experience at Heathrow was another first.We came to the gate at about 6 am local time and after a short conversation were placed somewhere for special people — in detention.After 4 or so hours we had a secondary interview and then told of our imminent return to our last port — Singapore, a cool 12 hour flight.

There was this sense in rubbing up against a beast, so large that even if we pushed with all our selves we would not move it. We resigned ourselves to returning. The beast was the UK’s Home Office.

The Home Office said that we were lying about our intention to come for a holiday for 5 months – that we were going to work. I’m a nine on the enneagram (I think) so I’m great at seeing other people’s point of view. I can see a little of what they meant, in our lack of preparation.

But, they wouldn’t let us access the internet to prove our cash resources, didn’t give us independent advice about our options, were not transparent about either processes or laws and relied on theories of what people will and will not do. I’m white and my first language is English and I was confused and frustrated by my treatment. I cannot begin to imagine the experience of others who were there. We met with people who were arbitrarily detained from Africa, Sri Lanka, and Brazil all of who were allowed in after some hours (their visas were fine only the staff took a disliking to something).  Spending time with them was great, we would try to comfort them, explain things to them and talk with them.