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?? Mark’s alternative model is “to foster and nurture growing clusters of praxis who can, collectively coordinate change.” I have to say that this is what brought me into the movement. Growing up attending monthly potluck of CPT Northern Indiana and hearing from folks working in Chiapas and the West Bank was critical in exploring what it means to put radical faith into action. Clusters of praxis also sounds a lot like the model that CPT is constantly learning more about from our partner communities such as Las Pavas in Colombia or Mothers for Peace in Iraq.
Of course, growing clusters of praxis is hard work, and often decades of work don’t show have the highly visible impact that a best-selling book can in a matter of years. That’s the other part of the history of insurgent clusters of praxis that Mark confidently references in the next sentence.
Finally, I should say that I like Pete Rollins. He hosted Charletta and I in his living room for a lovely chat a few years ago when we were in Belfast and we also sat in on one of his classes. He’s a nice guy. To be honest, many of his most interesting ideas are over my head. I didn’t like literary theory in college and I still don’t understand Lacan. But if you haven’t seen it before, check out the Ikon community, which he helped organize before. They have done all sorts of provocative projects such as the Evangelism project, where folks went around to people of different faiths seeking to be evangelized. I’d go so far as to say they probably qualify as one of Mark’s clusters of praxis.
So there you have it. Got clusters of praxis?