This blog I found during a search I describe in my previous posts has Hauerwas retelling a Clarence Jordan story that I had heard not too long ago. Here’s how it goes:
Clarence Jordan was the founder of the Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia. It was set up to be an interracial community before anyone knew what civil rights were all about. Jordan himself was a pacifist as well as in integrationist and thus was not a popular figure in Georgia, even though he came from a prominent family. The Koinonia Farm, by its very nature, was controversial and, of course, it was in trouble. In the early fifties Clarence approached his brother Robert Jordan (later a state senator and justice of the Georgia Supreme Court) to ask him to represent legally the Koinonia Farm. They were having trouble getting LP gas delivered for heating during the winter even though it was against the law not to deliver gas. Clarence thought Robert could do much through a phone call. However, Robert responded to Clarenceâ€™s request:
â€œClarence, I canâ€™t do that. You know my political aspirations. Why, if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything Iâ€™ve got.â€
â€œWe might lose everything too, Bob.â€
â€œItâ€™s different for you.â€
â€œWhy is it different? I remember, it seems to me, that you and I joined the church on the same Sunday, as boys. I expect when we came forward the preacher asked me about the same question he did you. He asked me, â€˜Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?â€™ And I said, â€˜Yes.â€™ What did you say?â€
â€œI follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point.â€
â€œCould that point by any chance beâ€”the cross?â€
â€œThatâ€™s right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. Iâ€™m not getting myself crucified.â€
â€œThen I donâ€™t believe youâ€™re a disciple. Youâ€™re an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his. I think you ought to go back to the church you belong to, and tell them youâ€™re an admirer, not a disciple.â€
â€œWell now, if everyone who felt like I do did that, we wouldnâ€™t have a church, would we?â€
â€œThe question,â€ Clarence said, â€œis, â€˜Do you have a church?â€
the blogger, CHRIS ERDMAN, blogs this:
Clarence’s challenge is pregnant with meaning. I am very concerned that for many of us, and particularly in American congregations, Jesus is merely admired and Christianity is viewed as a way to be a better American.
I’ve added this dude to my RSS. I see he has Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory on his reading list.
(I found the page that Chris may have gotten this story here, but it seems that the quoting of the story should actually be attributed to Prof. Barry Harvey, Baylor University, Waco, TX instead of Hauerwas, who is quoted immediately AFTER this section recounting the Clarence Jordan story. Easy to see how this got mis-attributed, since the source is usually given at the foot of a long quote.)