Shane Crash lies before me in a hospital bed, his naturally lithe frame slightly bloated from the steroid injections he has been taking for recently diagnosed Crohn’s disease. Despite the intense pain of the inflammation and the chemical stupor of morphine, Shane is in good spirits. Just this morning, I awoke to find his most recent Facebook status: “It just struck me that I have a readership and I get to do what I love for a living. On top of that, I experience a community of ragamuffin Jesus followers teaching simplicity and enemy-love every day. Life is good.” Such a positive energy typifies Shane and what I love about him. In the dark of life’s despair, Shane Crash has discovered a diamond, a perfect love that he is compelled to share with others.
His outlook in life was not always so positive. When he was twenty years old, Shane thought he had hit the jackpot with a lucrative sales position in a growing company. Yet despite his financial success, Shane felt like there was something missing in his picture-perfect life. He lost faith in a church system that claimed to have all of the answers, but felt hollow. He was jaded by a career that provided luxury, but not happiness. Famished by a system that didn’t fill the emptiness within, Shane sold all of his worldly possessions, grabbed his backpack and hit the road. His travels over the next two years took him through every major city in the United States and to other parts of the globe. When he left, he didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, but in retrospect he sees his leaving as a turning point that would eventually lead to an encounter with the love of Christ. About this he writes, “I adamantly believe that the moment I made the decision to search for something else, I had unintentionally discovered an alternative to the aimless numbness of thoughtless self-preservation” (“The Writing Writer”). With a good job and my own house full of shiny things, I admire the bravery that it takes to leave it all behind in the search for something better.
In the hospital room, I notice Jack Kerouac’s On the Road amid a stack of dog-eared paperbacks that Shane has been reading to pass the time during his stay. When I ask him for his opinion of the novel, Shane responds that he doesn’t care for the nihilism. The struggle for the young to seek out identity is not new, and the romanticism of the road is an age-old story. Shane’s own wanderlust maps a path through the worst roads of America, but it is not a vain search without purpose; on a subconscious level, he was led by the idea that there was something better out there to be found. About this he writes:
“Whenever my friends asked what the hell I was doing so late at night or why I was constantly throwing my hands in the air and pacing in circles, my only reply was “looking you fools”. Over and over I scoured the darkest, most desperate parts of Kansas City, of Brooklyn and Los Angeles. I observed random acts of violence, I watched hookers get into cars with strangers, and I listened to grown men sob alone in the alleys of St. Louis. My eyes saw things that can never be unseen. My spirit began to break for the people around me each night, for the first time I forgot about myself” (“The Return”).
It was only in setting aside himself for the sake of others that he was able to answer his disillusionment, still his anger, and reverse his own self-destruction. Shane writes, “The self-sacrificial love that Christ exemplified is what led me to conclude that he was the truth that my soul had been searching for” (“Let Love Lead You by the Hand”). Among the homeless, the destitute, and the oppressed, Shane found a Christ who was a champion for the least of society and had nowhere to lay his head. It is on this journey that Shane made the discovery that “love changes the human soul in a way that hatred, anger, and manipulation could never mirror” (“Let Love Lead You by the Hand”).
Now Shane has chosen to convey this found Truth to others through writing. His travels have been documented in his self-published work, Travel Logs: Backpack Journals. He has recently signed with Civitas Press for Forest Life, a novel he describes as being about “fear, faith, hope, and despair.” In writing both unflinching and raw, he seeks to offer hope to other searchers who are looking for an alternative to the emptiness of secularism and vapid religion. When you talk to him or read his works, you see an infallible love that comes shining through the cynicism and despair.
To distill his message: it is that there is a creator who loves you unconditionally and that you can find him in the darkest alleys and back roads of society, if you’d only take the risk of looking.