Author: Rob Bell
Rob Bell became a household name among Evangelical Christian hipsters almost a decade ago. He is the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but he gained national notoriety when his black-rimmed glasses, quirky communication style, and unique blend of ancient wisdom with contemporary practice were featured in the video series called Nooma (which is a spin on Pneuma, the Greek word for "Spirit").
Some people love him. Some people hate him. Some people love to hate him. I like him because he usually has a unique slant on familiar topics of faith.
On to the book, which I thought was okay - not good, not bad.
First, I read the book in 25 minutes. The bulk of the pages are filled with photographs or one sentence paragraphs. I didn't feel like the photography added anything to the "experience" of reading the book - but I'm mostly a left-brained thinker with occasional (short-lived) jolts of right-brained creativity, so maybe I didn't appreciate the art like someone else would. Basically, if Rob Bell had a blog then the content of this book would only amount to a few posts.
Second, the content that IS in the book isn't really that great/helpful/eye-opening/insightful (insert your own adjective for "worth the money to buy, and/or worth the time to read"). He says things that are really pretty obvious: everyone suffers, suffering can unleash the best of what's inside us, we can become bitter or better, and so on.
It's not that I didn't like what he had to say, I did like it. The book was just different than I thought it would be (or hoped it would be). But maybe that's part of Bell's brilliance (?).
Third, there are a few witty lines along the way. I especially liked his assessment of the white kid from suburbia driving his mom's SUV with the power windows rolled down and the volume of the rap music turned up. Bell asks, "Why is this kid playing this song?" He answers that, if the boy is anything like most of us, his life is so sterile and glossy and numb that he tries to live (or at least feel something) vicariously through the struggles and hurts and challenges articulated in the tone and content of the rap lyrics. Having been in the position of that suburban white kid, I think Bell is pretty much on target.
So I guess this book's message can be summarized as this:
Everyone suffers - it doesn't mean you're cursed - so acknowledge the pain or guilt or shame or whatever, and paint it in along with everything else on the proverbial canvas of life.
And when it's all said and done, that's not a bad message at all.
Are You Well?
Spatial Relationships, Belonging, & the Church