TOMS Shoes Are Bad, Fair Trade Isn’t Enough, & Shane Claiborne Cut His Hair & Now I Don’t Know What to Believe/Consume

Depending on how long you have been a part of the social justice/sustainability/fair-trade conversation, you know that it can be wrought with complication and various perspectives on what is actually just.

For example, when TOMS Shoes first came out there was a surge of praise.  Blake Mosloskie founded a for-profit company whose “One to One” model allowed for consumer purchases to directly help those in poverty.  Blake, the story, The shoes, were everywhere and before you knew it, TOMS were being sold in stores like Nordstroms. Then a bit later, some were down on them. “They’re being made in China,” “Why shoes and why not food?,” “They’re not ethically made or distributed” and some dismissed them as another bad example of good intention. Likely, there are some holes in their model, likely some of the criticism are warranted and needed and likely the good people of TOMS are aware of even more of their faults than their critics realize. It seems they have been trying to function with better practices from the beginning and you should read more at their Corporate Responsibility page.  I’m optimistic for them.

Another complaint I hear are the limitations of fair trade products. Have you ever heard this – “It’s technically fair-trade [Read more…]

Review of Economy of Love DVD with Shane Claiborne and Isaac Anderson

As part of the Ooze Viral Blogger program, I was given a copy of the “Economy of Love” dvd. Please know that just like all review programs that I know of, the blogger does not have to give a positive review. So this is my honest opinion. So the truth is that I liked it, but I was not amazed by it like I was say, The Irresistible Revolution – Shane set the bar pretty high with that one.  (But Jesus for President was absolutely fantastic).

Like most people, I’m a fan of aesthetics and it’s beautifully packaged and very well-produced. It’s professional and consistent with its theme. I especially loved the fantastic accompanying workbook. It provides a written commentary on what Shane said and a few notes like passage citations and sidebar comments.

F80B2CA3-FB62-4EB6-A354-F93EA6FF5C14.jpgAs always, Claiborne is excellent but those who have been following him for a while may be disappointed that they are not going to hear anything “new”.  I know he is more a practitioner and not a innovator but I’m just speaking as a reviewer who likes Claiborne but wasn’t particularly moved by the work. Know that it pains me to write that. If I can unpackage that a bit, I mean I’d like to understand more of perhaps the meditations and actions after The Irresistible Revolution as opposed to new ways and methods to think about the poor. I think we have become bored by the impovered, it’s probably due to the lack of ministering to them. However, more on the relational tithe would have been cool too. Maybe for future projects on a deeper look at the practices, “programs”, reflections of the Simple Way/Potter Street and how they can be adapted in different settings, rural, suburban, etc. As the risk of sounding overly critical, this would have been more helpful shortly after the release of Irresistible Revolution

However, if you are new to Shane’s work and ideas and if you are not going to read IR, there is no better place to start. But you should consider reading Irresistible Revolution.

Initially I was not sure what I would do with this work. At 3-5 minutes, the clips are very short which are nice in a sense because they leave time for discussion (if you have a group geared for that but they are short). There are 5 clips and the chapters are “Tension”, “Enough”, “Vulnerable”, “Filled”, & “Practice”. I’ve watched the series a few times now over the last week and a half and have thought of a few things. They make great sermon clips in traditional churches. I may may use the “Enough” chapter next time I preach to our suburban congregation. The clip being short will allow me to provide commentary around it.

Perhaps to consider a possible place for this work is in an Adult Sunday School setting or small group setting. I also wondered about our Ministry Commission Meetings (just brainstorming but I imagined one of our elders’ meetings. We have great elders, I think they would be moved by clips like “Vulnerable”). In addition to using them as a back-drop, they could simply be used as a home study group curriculum but I think the facilitator would have to bring some work to the table after the second week’s worth of dialogue dries up. Still, I’ll probably use it in our youth ministry, wished it was released last year (doh!). We’ve talked a great deal about generosity, stewardship, and the gospel that seeks to meet the local, global, personal, social, physical, emotional, spiritual needs of others. We’ve done Advent Conspiracy for a few years too.

All that said, the content cannot be better said in a such a concise amount of time. Shane’s words are very appropriate and as always, his presence comes across well – I think most audiences will find him very likable.

It’s definitely worth the $9.35 (from Amazon!)

Judge for yourself here’s a clip.

Economy of Love: Trailer from The House Studio on Vimeo.

You Saw it Here … Second Last

U2 to take over Letterman Show for a week starting March 2.  I tell you, if they took over Fox News or The View or even Hannah Montana, I’d tune in.

The other week Chrisitanity Today interviewed Derek Cooper who wrote  So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary: An Insider’s Guide.  Derek is one of our adjunct profs at Biblical Seminary and ridiculously brilliant.  Here’s an exert: 

What is the biggest misconception about seminaries?

There are generally two. First, those who attend seminary assume that one of seminary’s main purposes is to provide the answer to this or that great biblical or theological question. Instead of understanding seminary or theological education in terms of a mathematical formula to be solved, however, it is more like a tension-filled narrative that is to be lived out. Seminaries, in other words, are better at asking questions than answering them.

Second, those who do not attend seminary assume that only people called to the pastorate or some other full-time Christian ministry are encouraged or even eligible to attend seminary. The truth is, however, that seminaries are filled with students who will pursue a variety of professions after graduation. (more)

The other week Jen from our cohort emailed this youtube clip.  Meant to post it sooner but I forgot it in the draft folder.  I know you are inundated with a “million must see this youtube clip”.  This is only “must-see” if you are interested in the future … of the world.  If you live in the past, or you if you are an incredible optimist, don’t worry about it, you can click here for a rerun of the Saved By the Bell.  Otherwise, click below.


Shane Claiborne posted “When Jesus and Justice Kiss” at the end of January on the Sojourners site.  

“I just got back from a trip to Australia where I was saw folks fall in love with Jesus, the real Jesus, for the first time… and with the innocence of a kid at the altar in a big tent revival, fell on their knees with tears going down there cheeks for they found had found their Lover. It was a revival.”    

“(We) …set up a shanty-town, cardboard slum on the steps of Parliament to bring attention to the folks being displaced around the world …”

“Can you imagine if our North American Christian conferences had a witness on the streets like that? In the middle of it all, I had one person come up to me and say – “if this is what Christianity is, then sign me up.” In this notoriously non-Christian country, I was proud to be part of a witness that showed folks a Christianity worth believing in, good news they could see and touch and feel.”

I think I’m find some more service project weekend ideas here.

Jesus for President Tour in NYC

About two weeks ago, I went with the cool kids to see Shane Claiborne (among them was Thomas from Everyday Liturgy.  Check out his post here) on the Jesus for President Tour with Chris Haw at the Fifth Presbyterian Church on 5th Avenue.  (Got excellent street parking too – it was such a good night).

It was very well done.  You needed to remember that it was a book tour thing and Shane and Chris gave a solid visual and oral summary of Jesus for President.  There were several excellent qualities about it.  One was its intention.  For me, I didn’t want to go to a political or an anti-political rally.  I appreciated how it was not a sermon, or even a spontaneous lecture.  It wasn’t about Shane or the Simple Way, it really was about the point of their book.  Second, Shane and Chris read from excellently worded scripts and had a keynote presentation on the screen above.  Intertwined was music.  But not Chris Tomlin music (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but instead an incredible folk band called the Psalters (who “sold” their cds for donations) that combined traditional, contemplative, and various other styles into a neo-folk style.


Among the things that I took from it was that this wasn’t a “Gen-X thing”.  It really wasn’t.  Certainly majority of the crowd were young Xers and older Millenntials but nothing was too edgy, or too “postmodern”, or whatever label you would slap on.  Nor was it anti-war rally exalting the virtues of pacifism and the evils of anything in particular.  Instead, it was a great reminder that politics will not save us. Most of us who showed up probably walked in with that assumption.  Let’s keep that in check so instead worship, serve, and love Jesus.  We ought to do our diligent part in working for the Kingdom here. 


Go see it if you can,

Among many places, you can buy the book here.