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The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  22,717 ratings  ·  1,026 reviews
Many of us find ourselves caught somewhere between unbelieving activists and inactive believers. We can write a check to feed starving children or hold signs in the streets and feel like we’ve made a difference without ever encountering the faces of the suffering masses. In this book, Shane Claiborne describes an authentic faith rooted in belief, action, and love, inviting ...more
Paperback, 367 pages
Published January 31st 2006 by Zondervan (first published January 23rd 2006)
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Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
In the spirit of sweeping generalizations, youth pastors fall into two categories. The first is the middle aged man who excitedly pumps students up with pizza parties and all-night lock-ins. Then there are the too-cool-for-cool ones. The youth pastor at my church fell into the second category. He was one of those, "You think I'm cool, but I'm not. Because only, Jesus, man. Jesus is cool."

Shane Claiborne is one of those dudes, too.

In The Irresistible Revolution, he makes the very provocative case
Jul 10, 2008 rated it liked it
The Irresistible Revolution is a book written from a place of love by someone who has put his love into action, and as such, I would recommend it to anyone who can read around its sometimes glaring flaws to find the challenging truths that make up the bulk of the book.

Claiborne writes with humor, kindness, and humility. He challenges the status quo of American Christianity, calling us to love the poor. He shines light on and brings into question beliefs and practices of both conservative and lib
Dave  Johnson
Jan 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
At first, I liked this book. I actually recommended it to a friend. Ignoring the first forty-something pages full of prefaces, forwards, dedications, and author's notes (which really tried my patience), I thought that the author started off by making good points. Then all the crap came out. First, this guy has a big problem with authority. Being someone who is a self-professed follower of Jesus, he should be more submissive to authority. And it's not just police or the president (although his at ...more
Stephanie Martian
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
A year or so ago my friend recommended this book to me. I came to this page and read the 5 star and 1 star reviews, and because of the 1 star reviews wrote it off as one-sided and an attempt to convert people to a new way of thinking.

Many of the 1 star reviews mentioned that they believe the author thinks the ONLY way to live out your faith is how he does. I'm not interested in someone getting my attention just to persuade me I'm wrong. A few weeks ago Shane was in town so I went with some frien
This book put me in mind of Saint Francis of Assisi rather than the contemporary USA. It is the simple everyday story of a spiritual quest. The author as he grows older takes part in a number of churches including at one point spending time with Mother Teresa in India, attending services and getting involved, each is insufficient in some way so eventually he ends up living the most Christian as in true to the life that Jesus and the Apostles led in the Gospels as he can.

Founding a new church, or
Mary Pitts
Jul 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Liberal Christians
I got through half this book. It got wacky. I gave it a couple more chapter. And then I gave up. This book is pretty liberal. I'm not. This author seems to think very highly of himself. He seems to think to be a true Christian you must give up any sort of business, live among the poor and blah blah blah. He thinks he's so open minded and new age, but he's actually REALLY close minded. What about the average Christian who is looking to be the best they can at showing Christ's love in their world. ...more
Joanna King
May 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-faith
Everyone should read this book. Shane has such a beautiful perspective on the world. As I have often found myself frustrated and disenchanted with what I have seen in American Christianity, Shane reminds me that my God is a God of the small but beautiful things, who calls me to be part of his empire-toppling revolution of love. Shane calls particularly this generation into "small things with great love" and lives a profound example of that. One of the most encouraging things about this book and ...more
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shane Claiborne has a lot of interesting stories and valuable insights. It's a funny book; very Donald Miller-esque in tone. There were several parts where I had to cringe as Claiborne tended to border on self-righteousness from time to time, but I don't think that it distracted too much from the beautiful images he successfully presented of what it means to live in real Christian community, the way Jesus did and required ALL his followers to do as well.

The accounts of the time Claiborne spent
Joel Bradshaw
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
An absolutely beautiful book. Shane Claiborne has an incredible heart for his neighbor, and tells the story of his journey to a genuine discipleship of Christ in a disarmingly friendly, simple, witty, and humorous way. Don't let the tone fool you, however - this is a book that challenges the Church to re-examine what its core principles really are, why it is on this earth, and provides support for those disillusioned by the oppositional, self-centered Christianity that is too prevalent in Christ ...more
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time reading this book because of the writing, which left a lot to be desired. I'm sure it was not the author's intent, but at times he comes across as a bit self-righteous. I think his youth is evident in his writing; a lot of passion, idealism, and an appetite for revolution. ;-)
My basic thought was that this was more a book about the redistribution of wealth than it was a discourse on how to live for Jesus (I'd love to hear from him again when he reaches middle age!). However, al
Alexander Rolfe
Dec 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Alexander by: Forced to read it by the GFU capstone, to their eternal shame
Ahh, the irresistible revolution of left-wing politics. Blech. I can't tell whether Shane is a follower of A) Barabbas, a messianic freedom-fighter (almost) executed by an oppressive empire for his solidarity with the poor, or B) Jesus.

Assuming it's B, I will pray for this brother in Christ-- I'll be praying that he can give up his individualism and attachment to stuff, and join a real monastery. That would involve committment, a vow of poverty, obedience to a superior, and a lot less attention.
Sheri Longshore
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was interesting reading some reviews AFTER I finished reading the book. Apparently some people got a whole different message than I did! Shane Claiborne IS young, idealistic, & has a bunch of radical ideas. And I didn't once feel like I was being guilted to sell all I own and move under a bridge. I DID, however, feel compelled to dig back into the Bible to pay more close attention to the words and actions of Jesus. How HE lived and what HE had to say about what was important. Shane isn't the ...more
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Do you have a desire to follow the calling of God? Is there a deep yearning inside you that cannot be filled only with faith, but must have action as well? The Irresistible Revolution is a novel that searches for real and true Christians. From as far as Wall Street, to the ghettos of America, slums in Iraq and orphanages in Calcutta, the author Shane Claiborne takes the reader on a journey though the social injustices and ungodly principles of the world and the Christian church today. Convinced ...more
shaun mccormick
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian
If Donald Miller wasn't enough for you, then try a dose of Shane. A great book that tells some amazing stories of God's work through the ministries he is in, and does a good job at showing how some of the pitfalls of American Christianity can be overcome by changes in lifestyle.

However, the book ends up falling flat with over-hyped idealism without much meat. Rosy words and slick phrases abound in this book, as the writing is hyperemotional, self-told-story-driven, and often fails to point out t
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is not well-written, it smacks of idealism and self-righteousness from time to time, and it's not realistic to think everyone that reads it is going to become an "ordinary radical" or "new monastic." What I think the reader will find by reading it is humor and a desire to shut the mouth and stop throwing money at "causes" and actually DO something. You can bitch all you want about how he's idealistic and crazy and hates authority, but I don't think there is any question that he and his ...more
Elliot Ratzman
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Not just Christians, social justice activists, skeptics
This is my new favorite book; this is the most moving Christian testimony I have read in years. The Irresistible Revolution is the most inspiring, creative, accessible and insightful take on Christian social justice from a white guy I have ever read. I learned something new on every page; familiar Bible passages became incandescent and shockingly relevant. Claiborne writes with (at times dorky) wit and wisdom with humility and urgency. His power comes from a combination of deep learning, extraor ...more
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Well, this was interesting.

The message of the book I have no real complaint with. It would be wonderful to see more people doing more on a smaller scale to make a difference in the world. Every little bit does count, an if we each do something small the effect would be huge. Yes, churches and Christians do need to be more aware of the messages of what they preach. There's a lot of hypocrisy in the commercialized Christianity that must of the world is familiar with.

Both of these topics could hav
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is more like a 4.75 because there were a few chapters that I kind of skimmed because they didn't interest me as much. However, the parts I did read were absolutely amazing.
This book is Shane Claiborne explaining his perspective of God, the Bible, and what it looks like to follow Jesus. He covers hypocrisy in the church and how Christians get too comfortable with their faith life, among other things.
I really connected to the life experience he shared. It added to what I've already been lea
Alex Johnson
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a "It's not you; it's me" book.

Pre May 28th? I was digging this. I enjoyed reading about how Claiborne went looking for a new type of Christianity, found it aboard, and brought it back in a radical intentional community. Being a huge proponent of living in deep community (sharing food, inviting people over), it was awesome to read about that kicked up a notch.

And then the George Floyd murder happened, and I just couldn't see Claiborne having a Jubliee celebration on Wall Street or askin
Mary Katherine McMullen
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone actually searching for and trying to live authentically
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hansen Wendlandt
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
From emergent churches to the many recent books about new movements in Christianity (McLaren, Cox, Bass et al), something is happening in the world of faith. Shane Claiborne is a unique ‘something’ and central figure in those changes. For the last decade or so, he has been taking the gospel “seriously” and offering a vision severely different than the hypocritical mess that most people see in Christianity today. Part theology, part biography, this book is Claiborne’s description of what “ordinar ...more
Lyn Cosby
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shane Claiborne is doing what he hears God calling him to do, and that is so very admirable. But he doesn't leave lots of room for one to live another way. He's too idealistic and just a touch too pleased with himself. He doesn't come out and say it, but I'm left with the feeling that he judges the rest of us just a little too harshly.

I do like the radical departure from mainstream Christianity, which in so many ways deserves being departed from. I like the idea of trying to live The Simple Way.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Let me start by saying the updated version isn’t ideally read on a black and white kobo - the introduction said that new comments would appear in another colour font but of course that’s not true on the kobo so it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between original book and updated bits which often appear one paragraph after another. Read in paper or in colour, that’s my first recommendation.
I dated a man who lived by this book, specifically the first edition. And it seems to me that th
Travis Bow
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-audio
A self-righteous, "I'm not part of the system" manifesto that advocates helping (and joining) the poor as the main purpose of Christianity and condemns all war and wealth… and that may have a point.

If you can get past the gut “this is crazy talk!” reaction, this book will definitely make you think (or, if you’re already a down-on-the-church hipster, it will give you plenty of catchy ammunition to back up your discontent). The main problem is that most of the good points are so over-stated (proba
Emily Blake
May 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious
The Irresistible Revolution started off fairly well. Shane has done a lot of cool things with his life and no one can deny that he's doing a wonderful job of living radically. He seems to be one of those people who really lives out his beliefs and that's hard to find these days. A lot of the stuff in this book really made me think. Let me give you some quotes that I found really challenging:

"Jesus never says to the poor, come find the church, but he says to those of us in the church, go into the
May 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jonathan by: Lindsey
An impressionistic review of an impressionistic book:

I finished Irresistible Revolution shortly after debating Gitmo with a friend from church. He argued that we should trust our executive branch to do the right thing, and that innocent casualties in a war are worth the expense. They aren't US citizens, after all.

This book would not change that friend's mind about anything. Indeed, I disagree with a lot of what Claiborne says. But I found the book oddly soothing after that debate. Strange as it
Jun 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Very inspiring, a book about getting back to the root of what it means to be a Christian, i.e. living with "the least of these" and fighting for peace and justice. However, the book is marred by its youth-pastor-esque voice of excitement and by Zondervan's over-marketing (just look at the fake duct tape on the cover).

Also, as a former resident in an intentional Christian community in a poor neighborhood, his stories of his own life are rosy and idealistic. Claiborne never mentions the difficulty
Steven Jacke
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-christian
In a post-evangelical-support-for-Trump America, I've had some crisis of faith, and I've been rereading a lot of books from my youthful energetic days, and this was one of them. It took me awhile to read because I kept escaping into fun sci-fi books rather than stay in the real world.

What can I say? I'm a Shane Claiborne fan. I'm just old and tired, and not really in the mood to go to Iraq to protest war. I just want to be a comfortable Christian, vote the right way, and enjoy my Sunday afterno
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
I don't agree with Claiborne's "generous orthodoxy" stance, but it's impossible to argue with his simple commitment to living out the Gospel in everyday life. When I finished this book, I wanted to sell all my stuff and hang out with poor people...and that's the point. If Tolstoy and Francis of Assisi hold any appeal, this book will too, as it's basically their ideas, framed for modern, post-church Christians.
Jesse Maust
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I think the concept of the “simple life” is interesting, and of course I believe that we need to care for our poor, the widow and the orphan. It is written in a very accessible way. Sometimes it is touching, sometimes thought provoking, and other times it is funny. I think this book is a conversation starter and not a magic pill to change the world. But definitely worth the read.
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Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. Shane worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living "as if Jesus meant the things he said." Shane is a champion for grace which has led him to jail advocating for the homeless, and to places like Iraq and ...more

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“And I think that's what our world is desperately in need of - lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.” 164 likes
“Mother Theresa always said, "Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.” 99 likes
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