What happened to the new radical in me?

November 12, 2008


 As a student in the mid 1980’s the New Radical by Jim Wallis influenced me like no other book. The book was a gift from a mentor/friend.  Over the last twenty years I lost contact with this friend and the vision of Jim Wallis. It is amazing to find myself coming full circle as I once again seek the experience of Godde in my life.

I recently found my copy. It was with other old books that had been stored away years ago in the ceiling of my home. It is moth-eaten, mouse-eaten, faded and full of character.

As I turned the pages, memories came flooding back as I had underlined and written short comments all over the book.

Below is an abstract from my copy that is as sadly relevant today as 25 years ago…..


16 Responses to “What happened to the new radical in me?”

  1. russ Says:

    now there is a blast from the past! – KAPOWW!!

    there was much of the frustrated & alienated youth in me circa the early 80’s, looking for some darkness to kick against. having read your post, i can suddenly hear him laying the questions to me: could you get arrested?

    anyone can get arrested but i feel i have lost something i need to regain. i feel like i’m under self-arrest, embroiled with my naval.

    your post feels like a voice in the wilderness from someone currently lost & pleading to be found. i remember borrowing your copy. i remember listening to Nic’s band – Earthen Vessel – who were the nearest thing to avant gard on the early 80’s gospel circuit.

    may God bless Nic’s bald head & yours too.


  2. nic paton Says:

    My understanding of radical has changed. 20 years ago it meant confrontatory, overtly countercultural, and anti-apartheid.

    Today it implies an underground, subversive delving into the meanings that lie beneath the appearence, and a quiet determination to live by the truth. It’s more anti-consumerist as well as pro-inclusion, pro-nature and wholistic (although it might come across to some as looking rather bourgeouis). Or maybe it is.

  3. russ Says:


    i think you’re right that “radical” needs to include the kinds of values & ways of being that you mentioned. in tandem, i do think more overt, confrontational expressions are sometimes called for, be they the withholding of a % of tax, sitting peacefully in a road or whatever expression is called for.

    for example, i disagree with 10% of my UK tax bill going into funding of the arms trade – directly or otherwise – which is currently the case in the UK. several years ago i researched the possibility & ramifications of withholding an equal portion of my tax, as a protest. given that i am married with a family to support, the resultant jail time would be costly.

    while overt confrontation with the powers is not the only expression of radical justice, it is one. Walter Wink will certainly be worth reading on this score.



  4. russ Says:

    P.S. i like the emerging emphasis of your blog Andy.


  5. movingincircles Says:

    I’ve always understood ‘radical’ to mean cutting back to the roots, going back to basics and essentials and foundations. Afterall, what is any plant without its roots, its radical / radicle? I’m convinced that searching leads us back to fundamentals and maybe even to simplicity. Viva! Our roots might not be in our navels, but then again they might!

  6. Steve Says:

    Your post reminded me of an old book that I have, called Up to our steeples in politics. I thought of bloggin g about it along the same lines that you did, and then realised that I already had, in a synchroblog on Christianity and social justice

  7. Andrew Says:

    Thanks all for the comments,

    I’m trying to decide what is more important: the radical message of the “KIngdom of God” as taught by Jesus that can be summed up the the command to “be compassionate,just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36)or the radical message to the “church” of today regarding the inclusiveness of the “Kingdom of God” as taught by Jesus.

    Somehow, I think that there is a connection. Maybe the first message is about how we are to live our lives and the second message is how we are to relate to world.(or the other way round!)

  8. nic paton Says:

    For all the great prophets of justice – King, Gandhi, Mandela for example, political action was the result of inner convictions.

    There is more than only a “connection” then, rather a continuity of the same spirit, between the personal and the corporate expressions of Love.

  9. russ Says:

    good points all – so early in the post & we’re in agreement? skande!

  10. Andrew Says:

    Nic, very nice!!

    A God of Love, a Father that is compassionate is by nature inclusive.( ..the same spirit) Does this mean that the Church is unjust by preaching an exclusive gospel as opposed to preaching/practicing compassion?

  11. illuminaatjie Says:


    good question & i’d tag another question on to it: is preaching an exclusive gospel incompatible with preaching & practicing compassion?


  12. Don Rogers Says:

    I was a 30 something conservative, fundamentalist Southern Baptist when your book was in prominence. I was patently exclusivist in my theology. I was so for one simple reason……Ignorance. I am so impressed by the tenor of all you present, when it comes to the pressing issues of today.

    ” Does this mean that the Church is unjust by preaching an exclusive gospel as opposed to preaching/practicing compassion?”

    Most definately!!

    “is preaching an exclusive gospel incompatible with preaching & practicing compassion?”

    There is absolutely no room for exclusivity in the realm of the sacred.

    I thank you guys for teaching me so much. It means a lot to me to be able to read your sagacious words. It is only in the past four years, as Nic and Russ well know, that I have come to a realization of inclusiveness I could have never dreamed of in my sheltered life here in the “Bible Belt”.

  13. illuminaatjie Says:

    Don, blessing to you for all your encouragements over the last couple of years. whenever i see the name Don Rogers tagged to a post or comment, i always know it’s going to be warm & engaging.

    with us lot, it seems like we could be debating beer vs whiskey and we’d still manage to find ourselves discussing inclusion vs exclusion.

    nothing wrong with that.

    till soon,


  14. Andrew Says:


    I grew up as a Baptist and left the Baptist church during the renewal movement of the early 80’s. I was a weak evangelical charismaniac up until the early 90’s. The main influence during my student days in the 80’s was social and political enviroment in South Africa during the apartheid regime. and opposing this injustice.

    My career (running my own business for the last 7 years) and family (daughter 11 years old and son 9 years old)have dominated the last 15 years with little interest in the things of God.

    Thanks for your input as I re-examine my faith (and doubts). It is a blessing finding others that are open to sharing their experiences and thoughts. We are all richer because of this.

    As Russ would say “forward and upwards”


  15. russ Says:


    Andy & i used to enjoy chilling out in his lounge in the early 80’s, listening to Bruce Cockburn over a glass of red wine & talking about living in community, how the church is suspicious of the artist etc etc. he was one of the few people in my church circle at that time who knew what to make of me. here we are, now communing in cyberspace. it would be great for us all to meet in the flesh one day.

    have a good weekend everyone.

    onwards & upwards.


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