Friday, August 12, 2005

Currently Reading...

Velvet Elvis
By Rob Bell
The book I'm actually reading is Pride & Prejudice, but I couldn't resist my curiosity when I saw this on my brother's coffee table yesterday. One of my brothers has talked about it, and my blogging brother has mentioned it several times lately too. So while my twin nephews were napping, I started Rob Bell's new book. I didn't ask Daniel for permission to read it, so don't tell him.
In his opening words, he proposes that faith is like painting. Not A painting. Not something that is already complete.
This process, was reflected in the name that Luther's contemporaries originally called themselves, "Reforming." Not Reformed.
He says that because times change, and people change (God doesn't) we need to keep re-examining, refreshing, repainting the way we understand fatih. In the process, we might not really be finding NEW things. "I am learning that what seems brand new is often the discovery of something that's been there all along-it just got lost somewhere and it needs to be picked up, dusted off, and reclaimed."
One of my favorite ideas that Rob and my brother/pastor Daniel, have really expressed well is Jesus "way" of living (in the book of John). While I still think Jesus may have been speaking of himself as the way, the road, the only route worth travelling...leading to life, I do think we often miss the concept of living the "WAY" he lived and taught us to live. He was saying that living His way, generously, with forgiveness, without bitterness, compassionately, peacefully, listening, seaking wisdom, a better way to live. It works because it is rooted in profound truths about how the world is. It is living in tune with reality. Ultimate reality. When we live this way, we are more in sync with how the universe is. Jesus knew this. He knew it would bring full, abundant, life. Because he IS Ultimate Reality.

When we really understand that Jesus is the way, we have to face that fact that it is not about being right. It's about living rightly.

I get caught up in being right about doctrine and theology instead of recognizing the real point. Doctrines of faith aren't the point. They do help us understand the point. And we should take them seriously, but in perspective. They are merely our own help us better understand God. But the moment God is 'figured out' with lines and definitions, and rules, we are no longer dealing with God. If it is something that can be defined, it's just something we've made up...something within our control. And God is not. Through all the stories of the Bible, He is constantly reminding people that he is BEYOND, and BIGGER, and MORE!

I liked some other things he said about questions..and about Christianity not being a wall of "bricks" (doctrines, like creation, the virgin birth, the Trinity) that could fall if one brick is removed. God is not defined by a wall. He is bigger, stronger. Bigger than our faith, our doctrines. And He doesn't need to be defended. He asks us instead to love him. To live His way. To love others and invite them to join us.

I didn't even finish the first chapter. And I couldn't STEAL the book, so I'll have to wait to finish.


Daniel Rudd said...

you may come to my house anytime and read anything you want. And of course anything I own is also yours so you can take the book too.

It was my second most anticipated book of the year (ever so slightly behind "The Half-blood Prince", both of which I devoured on a frenzied saturday.

I give both books 14.5 stars on my 13.1 star scale.

Rob needs a cooler name if he wants to be a serious author, but that's my only problem with him.

JK Rawlings on the other hand has pushed my patience to the limits on numerous occasions with her ridiculously slow pace at completing her books. She, however, has a great name for writing, so it kind of works out evenly.

Of course, my favorite author of all time is the host of this blog.

Is it clear yet that I am avoiding some work that I really do not want to engage in?

...maybe I'll start my own blog

Lindsey said...

Daniel, do you have any idea who R.A.B. could be at the end of the Half-blood Prince? I wish her next book was already out, although TJ has dibs on reading it before i do. He always does.

Daniel Rudd said...

Yes Lindsay, I have that and everything else figured out, but JK has asked me not to disclose this information...

just for fun of course, could you e-mail me the context of "RAB"?

chris said...

i read the book the day i bought it, and now i've got anne reading it. i wrote a review on amazon out of pure frusteration. i kind of regret it now, but i think i was totally justified in what i said. i've been struggling to not swallow everything in the book uncritically and to be patient with people who i find to be so wrapped up in fundamentalism that they completely miss what people like rob, mclaren, miller and others are saying. i'm hoping you'll write more once you finish the book. -chris

david rudd said...

you can also come next door and read it whenever. or you can come to my conversation on sunday mornings to discuss it...

i like the whole thing with living Jesus' way. in fact, that is what i teach...but... i'm a little concerned that too often some of Rob's points seem to rest on the idea that living Jesus' way is all there is to the gospel. its definitely part of it, but that whole sin thing is important too i think...

i'd like to hear the moron's take on this.

Ang said...

hi chris.
thanks for commenting. i knew if you were reading...that a rob bell post would get you to speak :) tell anne hello. we should get together again soon and talk.

daniel & david,
thanks for the invitations to read your books and for a fun lunch together. ( i missed the other 'A')
i haven't read any further yet, but i do think at least so far... that maybe in his lack of mentioning 'sin' he is actually just talking about the exact opposite of sin, a way of living free from sin. (kind of how Jesus often addressed issues-with stories and parables and teachings about how to sin is so much more a matter of the heart and mind than just our outward actions.) That instead of greed, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, pride...some of the basic sins...we need to live Jesus way as he described..."to put on the new selves".."to be set free from sin"..."no longer conforming to the patterns of this world, but being transformed." He didn't necessarily talk about sin..but i think he kind of did. but i haven't really read enough to dialogue about this without a bit of ignorance...and a lot of rambling. :)

chris said...

like i said, anne has my copy so i can't use it for reference, but i know rob does mention sin specifically and acknowledges the legal model of the gospel as being true. he says something to the effect of people having a sin problem and jesus dealing with it. i think ang is correct in that he is more concerned with how jesus affects the way we live, in fact, the second half of the book has much about our "new identities."
we do need to get together some time, anne mentioned last night that we should hang out with you and ryan some time. -chris

Daniel Rudd said...

David, the place to read begins on page 107 (titled "restoration").

I think you'll find what you are looking for there.

The way Rob approaches this is heavily influenced by the work of Dallas Willard (primarily expressed in "The Divine Conspiracy").

Rob says it in ways that are much more accessible and compelling. But I think they both hit it right on the head.

People want a list of what must be avoided to be right with God. We (especially us westerners) want a plan.

Jesus seems to offer instead pictures of the kind of person he calls us to be. You could make lists out of his pictures, but you may find yourself dismembering parts of your body that you will want later.

Fundamentalism did not begin this way, but it has become a system of defining identity by what we stand against.

This is a powerful force in generating excitement and commitment, but the end result does not often match up to those pictures of freedom, compassion, justice, or wholeness that Jesus gives us.