Not as much as I do (A response to Chad Ellens)

Written by streetprophet312 : May 15, 2008

Dear Pastor Ellens,

I read your recent article...and could remain silent no more! Suburban-dwellers like you grieve me. I too was a suburbanite once. But two years ago, I moved into the city to embrace a radical life of solidarity with the poor. My hope is, that in response to my response to your article, that you too will leave your wicked suburban ways and move into the city. Jesus loves you too much for you to remain in the suburbs.

A couple years ago, I head Shane Claiborne speak. Man, he opened my eyes to what it REALLY means to follow Jesus. And so, I decided then and there to make a radical change. I cashed in some of my frequent flier miles and went to the Simple Way in Philadelphia (though people in the neighborhood call it “Philly”).

After a couple of weeks of living in solidarity with the poor, I decided to help start a new monastic community in the City so that the people of America would see what Jesus REALLY looks like. My wife and I, and some of my friends from my Christian College, bought a house in a really dumpy part of the City and began our work. We call ourselves the 23rd Avenue Radical House Collective. I’m the lead member…which is kinda like the pastor, but I don’t believe in pastors, so I call myself something different.

It has been a hard couple of years, but I think we have learned some lessons that if everyone would take seriously would radically change our nation forever:

  1. Stop eating meat. Meat usually takes up a lot of space. Plants don’t need as much space. So by eating veggies, we’re freeing up a bunch of space for poor people to move into. And then we won’t need 9.2 earths per USAmerican to sustain the world.
  2. Garden. Growing stuff yourself saves you money, and provides vegetables so that you can make vegan soups for homeless people. They don’t usually like the taste, but it is good for them.
  3. Bicycle everywhere. Hey, when you ride a bike, you are resisting the military industrial complex, man, and its dependence on foreign oil. That helps the poor because they will have cleaner air to breath and by spending less money ourselves, it somehow translates into more money for them.
  4. Wear dreadlocks. Sure, dreads are high maintenance at first…but after a while they take care of themselves, giving you more time to spend praying or bicycling or being in solidarity with people.
  5. Don’t worry about smelling. Part of our problem in the US is that we care too much about grooming and looking respectable. By remaining unwashed, we stand in solidarity with the homeless, who are unable to bathe regularly. I think they really appreciate that.
  6. Make things yourself. For example, I don’t buy regular coffee…even buying fair trade coffee is for poseurs. What I do is buy green organic fair trade beans and roast them myself using a popcorn popper. There is nothing the poor like better than really excellent coffee. Or other hand-made stuff.
  7. Live with friends. By living together, you save money that you could theoretically give to the poor, if you have jobs. And you can pray together more from prayer books that are cool because I grew up in a church that ripped on formal prayers.
  8. Do art projects with neighborhood children. We have an artist in our community, so we do art projects with kids. We believe that training young poor kids how to do art will give them hope. And when they grow up, they’ll be able to get a job as artists, instead of living a life of poverty.
  9. Protest stuff. The marginalized need empowered white folks to protest stuff. By adding our powerful voices with their weak voices, we can stick it to the man, and as a result, the man may change his ways.
  10. Vote for Obama. We have common ground on this last on, Pastor Ellens. You see, Obama fills me with hope too! A vote for Obama is a vote for hope. If you vote for anyone else, you don’t care about poor people.

So Pastor Ellens, I hope you can see that we offer a better way. An incarnational, radical, missional way that follows the way of Jesus. Unlike your hollow mega-Christianity.

Peace to you,

Derrick “Street Prophet” Andrews

Editor’s Note: This is a work of (self-depricating) satire. Its funnier if you happened to have read this first.

Derrick Andrews lives with his wife Anne and five of their friends in the 23rd Avenue Radical House Collective, a new monastic, neo-Anabaptist, Celtic Catholic evangelical community of resistance.

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