What We Talk About

Rob Bell: What we talk about

I’ve been reading Rob Bell’s latest book, “What we talk about when we talk about God”. Rob’s one of the good guys and there are always some interesting ideas and challenges within the covers of his books. “Love Wins”, with its compassionate reaching out beyond sectarian boundaries, put him outside the fold of many of the US evangelical organisations that had previously been happy to show his short Nooma films as discussion material.

Closed-mind attitudes, especially scientific certainty versus religious certainty, are partly what Rob deals with in the latest book. It is really an extended (perhaps over-extended!) rap on faith and doubt, certainty and questioning, the basis of knowing, and our inability to fully express Truth because of the limitations of language and partial understanding. It feels VERY long for a relatively short book but there are some gems:

“You can believe something with so much conviction that you’d die for that belief, and yet in the exact same moment you can also say, ‘I could be wrong….’

This is because conviction and humility, like faith and doubt, are not opposites; they’re dance partners. It’s possible to hold your faith with open hands, living with great conviction and yet at the same time humbly admitting that your knowledge and perspective will always be limited.”

I love that “dance partner” analogy. Rob’s at his best with the short and pithy; which is why Nooma worked so well. This book has a fantastic 20 page tract trying to escape from a lot of repetition and padding. Perhaps that’s what publishers demand? Still worth a look.