Practically There is No Such Thing as Anarchy, Part 2


I have had a few people ask me what substitutions I am making with Ambleside Online in these older years, in regards to economics, the justice system, and politics, if they know I am a Christian anarchist. You can read Part 1, here.

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My allegiance lies in the symbol of a cross. It lies with a God-King-Man that sacrificed the blood and sweat and breath from Himself to give us all a great Freedom and Hope. My allegiance lies not in a body of land or in a strip of fabric, but in the Body and Spirit of my Risen Lord.

Melody is starting Year 8 in September. Until this point, aside from in my first few years feeling uncomfortable with the pointedness of Plutarch’s advocacy of good character for the good of specific people of a specific plot of land one lotteried into, and so not using it (I overcame this “dumping” I had been doing, and utilized it for examples in what to be or not be as a citizen of God’s Kingdom, serving others), I hadn’t changed anything in this regard. We have had wonderful conversations over adding Plutarch, as the books so far have been an excellent spring board for Biblical discussion, disagreement or agreement.

Year 8 is not very obviously political, and for some reason I didn’t really grasp at it until June… but there is one resource that I kept hesitating to put into my Amazon cart: Whatever Happened to Justice by Richard Maybury. We enjoyed his Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, but this one was diving into an area that I felt needed an alternative for our home – justice. Considering what our family has been through, many are surprised that I am a supporter of restorative justice. So far, this is the only complete substitution I am making to the gov/econ aspects of AO in any of the years. We will use I, Pencil, but not the book.

Year 9 dives into political “sides,” which I had seen when reviewing it’s list over a year ago. I had already decided that we would use Are You Liberal, Conservative, Confused? by Richard Maybury, with another resource or two alongside it in the school year. I have been slowly adding books into my own reading, to select for her Year 9 and had found a really wonderful book. I want her to see there are more than 2-3 options, as a Believer, to choose from in politics, and to explore more than the status quo.

If you have any beautiful, lovely, and true sources on Christian anarchism, pacifism, and/or God’s Kingdom economics, please feel free to share in the comments section!

Without any more to-do, I am going to give you my list, which will be added to as time goes on:

Any Year, Free Read

  • A Wolf at the Gate by Mark Van Steenwyk ~ I just bought this. We read through it a few chapters a night for three nights. My children didn’t want bedtime story time to end any of those nights (some nights with other stories, they love the story but are more tired than interested, so ask for a stopping point)! We smiled, cried, and Melody and I both lamented not having more books like this. With Ambleside Online’s selections appreciating the value of myths and legends, this living book on extending God’s love to everyone, through the legend of Saint Francis and a wolf, are sure to become a new free read for CMers… I hope!
    I really want more books like this!

Year 8

  • Money and Power by Jaques Ellul  ~ this is a book that I am more than excited about. As I have been reading through it, I am recognizing that this is a LOT to chew on for someone of any age, and we will have to take this part of the Feast in small bites. I am thinking a 2 year read, to allow for the great conversation.
    This is wonderfully insightful regarding the juxtaposition of capitalism and communism either view promoting itself as a societal cure – neither side advocating what Christ does, individual responsibility to lavishly and willingly share their wealth with others in need, without force.
    If you want to get an idea of Jaques Ellul, watch this 6-part YouTube series on Technology, over 20 years ahead of today’s Facebook and McDonald’s culture. Does that make me see the value in a Luddite? Perhaps a little bit more than beforehand. I still like blogging, after all. 😉
  • Changing Lenses by Howard Zehr ~ this is on the justice system, but more importantly God’s justice system and how we have a lot to change if we want to treat criminals as Christ has commanded us, while still honoring, protecting, and valuing those who were victimized. A promising book about restorative justice. I plan on dividing this into 12 readings, it having 11 chapters and a wealth of encouragement in 4 appendices. He has a meaty Restorative Justice Blog to read through, too, but that won’t be used in our scheduled studies.
  • The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder ~ a general book on living out Christ in our daily living, which encompasses the political. Our actions speak louder than our vote, in essence. This has (for AO purposes) 12 tidy, but meaty chapters, so I will divide this into 12 weekly readings.

Year 9

  • Electing Not to Vote, Edited by Ted Lewis ~ I read this during this years Mother’s Feast schedule and was awed. There are several positions within this book that I myself do not resonate with, but the thought put into each essay, the Biblical leading, and the faith within these Believers was awe-inspiring. My copy is highlighted, dog-eared, and has notes all over the place. It has 9 chapters, but I wished for more! This was my “really lovely book” I mentioned above.
  • A Faith Not Worth Fighting For, Edited by Tripp York and Justin Bronson Barringer ~ this is a possibilty, and one I am leaning towards heavily.
  • Bible Studies by Richard Righter ~ I may utilize a few of these free studies over the summer between Year 8 and 9. I love them and have gone through several on my own.

Other HEO-level options

  • Nevertheless: Varieties of religious pacifism by John Howard Yoder ~ this has the same feel to it as Electing Not to Vote, but as this is written by one author rather than many, it has a rhythm to it that I appreciate. This book helped me to understand exactly what kind of pacifist I am, able to be defined with words (a pacifist of the Messianic community), and appreciate the variety of ways people support not murdering your neighbor. This has 20 chapters and could be spread out over a year or over 2 semesters, depending on how one wanted to utilize it. This is a meaty book, so I definitely would not suggest more than a chapter a week.
  • The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy ~ Ambleside Online already lists some of his work in the later years, if I remember correctly. This is a classic that should not be discounted.
  • What Would You Do? By John Howard Yoder ~ This is a book based on the hypothetical questions pacifists are often asked. Perhaps better suited as a free read, for those deeply interested in this.
  • Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos ~ a comprehensive scope on the history of anarchy within the community of Believers (click the link and through it you can download this for free at EThOS).
  • War and Peace from Genesis to Revelation: King Jesus’ Manual of Arms for the Armless by Vernard Eller ~ many of his books are suitable for these upper years. Many of his works, except this one, are available for free here.
  • Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes by Jacques Ellul ~ this is a helpful foundation for understanding that we are all affected and influenced by propaganda, governmental and otherwise. Again, many of his books are suitable for upper years.
  • Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement by Dorothy Day ~ free read
  • Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw ~ I adore this book and would put it as a free read. This is genuinely a gorgeous book. The words are inspiring, but the images/art that are within are comforting and inspiring at once.
  • Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ’s Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness, gathered and introduced by Wendell Berry ~ free read, very short but insightful
  • The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr ~ I have not gotten to read this yet, but it is a slightly altered version of one of his previously written books, as you’ll read in the preface. It is a free PDF, here.


This is a liturgical prayer that the Shane Claiborne/Chris Haw crew had up at their website for their book, Jesus For President, which is now defunct (it can be sourced by using I share this here, as it is so beautiful and I believe, of far greater value than pledging allegiance to flag or soil, both of which can and will pass away:

One: Today we pledge our ultimate allegiance… to the Kingdom of God

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To a peace that is not like Rome’s

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Gospel of enemy love

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Kingdom of the poor and broken

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To a King that loves his enemies so much he died for them

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the transnational Church that transcends the artificial borders of nations

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the refugee of Nazareth

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the homeless rabbi who had no place to lay his head

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the cross rather than the sword

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the banner of love above any flag

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the one who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the one who rides a donkey rather than a war-horse

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the revolution that sets both oppressed and oppressors free

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Way that leads to life

All: We pledge allegiance

One: To the Slaughtered Lamb

All: We pledge allegiance

One: And together we proclaim his praises, from the margins of the empire to the centers of wealth and power

All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

One: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

4 responses »

  1. Thanks for putting up these posts. I really enjoyed both. I am so excited to read some of the books you’ve listed and I love that prayer.

    A couple of books you might add to your to-read pile:

    People of Compassion by Dave Andrews (pacifist Christina history – I’m using it in place of T&T and will probably go through it a second time or pick bios from it in HEO)
    Beyond Left and Right (not Christian or anarchist, and written for/in an Australian context but your mention of Lib/con reminded me of it. No idea how useful it would be, haven’t read it for a long time)
    I’m using “Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals” By Shane Claiborne and two others for my devotionals at the moment. I want to use it with the kids or whole family when they’re older, too.
    The book list called “The unofficial guide to how we think” from Love Wins Ministries (a homeless ministry)

    Thanks again, Claire (Subversive Gardener)


    • Thank you so much for this, Claire! I am excited to add some of these to my read pile, indeed!

      I am going to look through the Love Wins site soon, too.
      Recently, I started buying the History Lives series by the Withrows. I am about to start reading the first one in Circle Time, but I am going to keep People of Compassion in the back of my mind. I enjoyed T&T the first time through, but I am looking at the variety and seeing what will fit in best for the long haul. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your shares!


  2. I’ve been having a read of Howard Zehr’s blog that you shared. Fascinating stuff! from there I found another blog specifically about Restorative Justice in schools where there was a list of novels and films involving RJ :
    and also a review of a YA novel that sounds promising:
    I’ve requested that my library buy the latter. It’s too hard to choose from a list of 5!

    Because neither of us has enough books to read already… 😉


  3. Pingback: AO Year 8 Schedule Bookmarks | Beautiful Chaos

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