Although author and activist Shane Claiborne spoke at Belmont earlier this year, he returned on Friday to present a fresh message based around one, central idea:
“Community is surrounding yourself with people who look like the kind of people you want to be,” Claiborne said in the convo.
Claiborne’s appearance launched Belmont’s series of 125th anniversary events and its fall chapel lineup. Appropriately, the convocation was titled, “Belmont 125: Belief in Something Greater.”
“We invited Shane Claiborne to do the opening chapel celebrating our 125th year since he has been such a friend to Belmont and such a popular guest each time he has spoken on campus,” said Todd Lake, vice president of spiritual development.
Since he published his seminal book “The Irresistible Revolution” in 2005, Claiborne has influenced Belmont administration in a variety of ways, including, most tangibly, the launching of the Service Year House on 15th Avenue.
The native Tennessean shared the philosophy behind ventures like the house, which model the intentional community style of living he has become famous for advocating.
“We’re made for community, to love and be loved,” he said. “You are not alone in the world. We can form that community at Belmont.”
He offered three ways Belmont students can embrace that kind of intentionality, including limiting time spent with virtual friends, allowing for mistakes and practicing talking directly to people when problems arise, he said.
But his message didn’t stop at Belmont. He urged students to use the foundations of their faith and their community to tackle problems facing Nashville and beyond.
“We can be rooted in Jesus and in prayer to rise up, to come together rooted in love,” he said.
The community he is a part of in Philadelphia, known as the Simple Way, collaborates to address problems as small as a health bill or as sweeping as an ordinance forbidding the feeding of homeless people.
It is through this collaboration that such problems can be solved, he said.
Claiborne urged students to intentionally strive for that kind of community, to pray for one another and to befriend people they may not naturally gravitate toward in an effort to “seek unity with Christ,” he said, “and be one as God is one.”
Because of America’s highly individualistic culture, he said, we have come very far from what God intended, which is for people to be with and for each other–to laugh, to help and to love with each other, and, ultimately, the world.
“Independence is not a Gospel value. Interdependence, knowing we need each other and God? That’s the Gospel.”