This Icon of Shane Claiborne Will Bless You

Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution, is a big deal in New Monasticism, a movement which was itself a big deal during the aughts. As with many radical Christian movements, much was good and much was dumb. I come not to cast aspersions, but to laugh. New Monasticism will be familiar to people who read up on their theology back when people used the word "emergent" all the time. It is a movement that uses phrases like "the abandoned places of empire". They value social relevance, but also look to the old ways.

Now that we are primed, let us enjoy this image I came across on the internet. Here is an ad featuring Shane Claiborne promoting some new thing he's doing. It's about tradition, because it's about practices. But it's also hip and cool, as the do-rag denotes. So that fine, that's pretty norms for this sort of thing.

But dig what I dig about this photo. Look at his right hand. Is he simply caught in mid-gesture as he expounds on the central practices of the Christian faith? Or is he mimicking the Christ Pantocrator of iconography, re-co-opting the gesture medieval Christians co-opted to indicate that Jesus was teaching?

Or does it instead look like so many other contemporary Christian movements, awkwardly caught between tradition and dynamism, craving both but having neither? Does it just look contrived?

I guess I did come to cast aspersions.


  1. I get so incredibly tired of all these "movements" that are trying to "remake" Christianity into something "new". Probably because I grew up in a "church" that pronounced itself "different" saying that they were better, their theology was more pure, that they alone knew the correct theology, and that any other church was inherently corrupt by virtue of its nature as a church. The only acceptable church was a non-church... ?? I guess.

    All it did was drive us away from Christ. As an adult, I find myself drawn to the most politically incorrect socially unacceptable vanilla evangelical churches as a result, and guess what - I love it and I've grown more in Christ from them than I ever did in the church of my youth. Ironically most people my age group seem to be flocking to new-wave churches but I will never go to one again. What is so broken about Christianity that it needs to be remade anyway? How is proclaiming yourself better than the rest of the body of Christ in any way theologically defensible?



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