What’s Troubling Me v.1

by Jeremy O'Bryan

I’m reading The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne, as you can see by the links at right. I’ve been excited to read it for a while because others who read it, and then talked about it, seemed genuiniely moved. Emotionally speaking, anyway. Mr. Claiborne’s main assertion, so far as I can make it out in the first 109 pages, is that we self-confessed followers of Christ are easily moved, emotionally speaking, but not so easily moved to action. When we are moved to action, he further asserts, it’s usually into baby steps that include a lifetime of preparatory learning through an intensive, deconstructive study of the Bible, as if painting a blade of grass might help us understand the fullness of all nature.

Mr. Claiborne illuminates a message by the Danish philospher Søren Kierkegaard:

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

This may scare the hell out of me completely. It’s not like I didn’t know I had the blemish on my heart, but reading Mr. Kierkegaard’s quote is like someone holding the mirror up in front of me, so that now I can see that blemish.

So I adopt the following as my anthem. A little political rant by the sometimes-profane, always-himself, Steve Earle.

The Revolution Starts Now

I was walkin’ down the street
In the town where I was born
I was movin’ to a beat
That I’d never felt before
So I opened up my eyes
And I took a look around
I saw it written ‘cross the sky
The revolution starts now

The revolution starts now
When you rise above your fear
And tear the walls around you down
The revolution starts here
Where you work and where you play
Where you lay your money down
What you do and what you say
The revolution starts now
Yeah the revolution starts now

Yeah the revolution starts now
In your own backyard
In your own hometown
So what you doin’ standin’ around?
Just follow your heart
The revolution starts now

Last night I had a dream
That the world had turned around
And all our hopes had come to be
And the people gathered ‘round
They all brought what they could bring
And nobody went without
And I learned a song to sing
The revolution starts … now

I’m not sure how well I’ll prove to walk this out. The Mr. Kiekegaard’s statement and Mr. Earle’s lyrics together are powerful stuff, like taking Percocet and drinking Irish Whiskey. But the imbuement of the Holy Spirit is better and all-powerful like being dipped in a bath of the stuff — or becoming it. That’s what I’ll pray for and you can pray for it too. After all, without the doing, is the learning enough?