Christian activist (and former high school prom king) Shane Claiborne spent his college years in the company of like-minded travelers. But then he decided following Jesus required a different path, one that values relationships with God and others above all else. Others joined him. Claiborne talks about their lives together in The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, a portion of which appears below.
About 30 of us from Eastern College continued dreaming together about another way of doing life. We stayed up night after night laughing and arguing, and eventually we came to a point where we knew we would never agree on exactly what causes homosexuality or whether Adam had a bellybutton (some things are best left unresolved), so we decided to go ahead and give our vision a shot. Besides, most of us were getting tired of talking and were ready to live. And I was living in a van (yes, down by the river), so we started looking for houses.…
Poet Henry David Thoreau went to the woods because he wanted to live deliberately, to breathe deeply, and to suck out the marrow of life. We went to the ghetto. We narrowed our vision to this: love God, love people, and follow Jesus. And we began calling our little experiment the Simple Way. In January 1997, six of us moved into a little row house in Kensington, one of Pennsylvania’s poorest neighborhoods, just minutes from old St. Edward’s Cathedral. It felt like we were reinventing the early church for the first time in 2,000 years. (We were quite ignorant.)
We had no idea what we were getting into. We had no big vision for programs or community development. We wanted only to be passionate lovers of God and people and to take the gospel way of life seriously.