Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell

A few weeks ago, I picked up Rob Bell’s latest book, What WeTalk About When We Talk About God. For those unaware, Bell’s credibility in the faith community came under fire from his last book Love Wins and personally, I was curious what he might have to say in his latest book. Would it be a defense of previous writings? Would it be an attempt to win back the favor of his critics? Would it be perceived as an even greater deviation from orthodoxy within the Christian faith?

The book was actually very different indeed. It seemed like a book written to a very wide audience, from the deeply religious to the deeply irreligious. I’m sure it will have its share of critiques, but as I read it, I found it to be an intriguing unpacking of language often used when talking about God, and how two people can quite easily talk right past each other and miss out on common ground and perspective.

The book starts in an interesting place. It starts with a dialogue about subatomic particles and principles of physics that are observable and yet unexplainable. For instance the electron. We rely on the movement of electrons daily. In fact I wouldn’t be able to write this post without borrowing some electrons to power my computer. And yet, the best model for electrons around the nucleus of an atom relies  on a prediction of where the electron might be at any point in time. It’s almost like it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. This is a hard concept to explain or understand, and yet, again, we rely on the movement of electrons to power our devices.

The book moves from multiple examples where people speak past each other when it comes to the subject of spirituality, and then as the book progresses, Bell introduces Jesus in a fresh way to the reader. The book is a very quick read, and I’m sure it will have its share of critics, but after reading it, I would love to introduce it to friends from various faith backgrounds and perspectives as I believe it would be a wonderful starting point for conversations.  I would recommend this book to people who are interested in exploring the subject of spirituality and how many people talk about God in the West.

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