This week I received my ordered copy of the DVD Simply Living: straight talk from Tony Campolo & Shane Claiborne on Simple, Just Living. I enjoyed all of the specifics of their conversations, but I was left frustrated on one score: I continue to see a lack of emphasis on the community in which this “simple, just living” takes place. If one were to ask Tony or Shane about this, especially Shane, they could certainly reassure me on that. But I get the sense that scores of people who watch this DVD can miss the idea of the centrality of the church in all of this. The stories told on the DVD contained information on the context of these events that indicated an “instigating” community, but I want more of an overt message about how these things are NOT for loosely associated , “somewhat related” individuals, but are conceived, carried out, and infused with the activity of the Holy Spirit upon gatherings of people committed to finding their call to participate in the particular “movement” that impinges upon some structure or structures of society.
I much prefer the way The Church of the Saviour tells similar stories of ministries that arise from amongst their midst. There is always a history of the discernment that took place amongst some particular folks that brought them together to see what God might instigate and what doors might be knocked upon to begin some challenge to some structure that oppresses. I guess what I’m saying is that there is far too little emphasis on the inward journey element to all of this. The DVD might well be construed as another “Ideas” book in video/audio form, packed with “Ideas for Social Action”, which seems to me to eschew the discernment process. It’s like “discernment is hard, so let’s just find a cool sounding cause, and do it”. (I’m not real sure I’m communicating this very well at all)
Maybe it’s unfair to heap all this upon a one hour DVD. I love these two guys, even though I’ve never met either of them personally. I have been listening to and reading Tony Campolo ever since I first heard him in the summer of 1980. Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution really dug deep into me. Both of these guys love the church. I just wish they’d bring it up to the fore and center it ; identify it as the nexus and center of all this activity.