Roots and Fruits

July 29, 2014

Today marks the birthday of my favorite thinker, writer, theologian, and activist. Born 102 years ago, Clarence Jordan grew up to become a modern-day prophet. Living in an age where Christianity found itself distorted by racism, violence, nationalism, greed, and commercialism, Jordan offered an alternative path. With our culture still struggling with those vices, his words and deeds should continue to haunt us today. Although many do not know his name, most know some of the fruits of his labor. He founded Koinonia Farm, an interracial Christian community in 1942 in southwestern Georgia, reimagined the New Testament with his fabulous Cotton Patch Gospel translation, and helped start the pilot program for what became Habitat for Humanity. He lived simply on the farm and writing in his shack, and yet he thought deeply. Imagine the world today if only more people could have half that impact!

Clarence Jordan's writing shack at Koinonia Farm.

Two years ago, I participated in the first Clarence Jordan Symposium, which included fantastic speakers like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Vincent Harding, Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Charles Marsh, and many others. It celebrated the 100th anniversary of Jordan's birth and the 70th anniversary of the founding of Koinonia Farm, which continues to thrive today. In addition to hearing the inspiring messages, I also visited Koinonia Farm. There I felt like I was walking on holy ground. Sometimes I wonder how U.S. Christianity got so far off track, but Jordan and Koinonia help me see another way. A pecan I picked up near Clarence's writing shack sits in my office to challenge me as I write (hope that doesn't sound too nutty, but I find it convicting).

Pecan trees at Koinonia Farm.

Yesterday, I opened the mailbox and found two books there. Finding books in the mail - especially free ones - always make for a good day. However, these books were especially special as they are the two volumes of speeches from the Clarence Jordan Symposium: Roots in the Cotton Patch: The Clarence Jordan Symposium 2012, Volume 1 and Fruits of the Cotton Patch: The Clarence Jordan Symposium 2012, Volume 2.



Both books contain seven photos I took of speakers during the Symposium (the same seven photos in each volume). Each volume also contains a back-cover endorsement from me (a different one for each book). I highly recommend them and hope you will check them out. The world needs more Clarence Jordan, and these books help with that mission.

Back of the books with my endorsements
(volume 2 on left, volume 1 on right).

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