[Book preview] “What We Talk About When We Talk About God” by Rob Bell

I am inspired by Rob Bell’s passion to know the heart of God by peeling away layers of religiosity and fundamentalism imposed by mainstream or evangelical christianity, as well as his gift of storytelling to convey insights about spirituality that is in everything. It reminds me of how Jesus would also employ storytelling devices such as parables to describe the kingdom of God that is within us and among us.

Video information

New York Times bestselling author Rob Bell, whom The New Yorker describes as “one of the most influential Christian leaders in the country,” does for the concept of God what he did for heaven and hell in his book Love Wins: He shows how traditional ideas have grown stale and dysfunctional and how to return vitality and vibrancy to lives of faith today.

What We Talk About When We Talk About God
by Rob Bell
http://www.robbell.com

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Join the conversation on March 12, 2013 at 4pm PST / 7pm EST
A book launch event for WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GOD will be streaming live from the powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, New York.
Visit http://www.robbelllive.com for details.

Rob Bell’s message resonates with me, and interestingly, it relates in some ways to my post “MAKING CONSCIOUS THE UNCONSCIOUS: Psychoanalytical perspectives of our beliefs in God” yesterday about psychoanalysis and how the Bible stories could well be a record of how the consciousness of humanity has evolved over time to see and understand “God” as grace, so to speak. I like what he said here in the video:

“Things have changed – we have more information and technology than ever. We are interacting with a broader and more diverse range of people than ever. And the tribal god – the only one many people would have ever heard of – appears more and more small, narrow and irrelevant, and in some cases he’s plain mean, and in other times, not that intelligent.

And as a pastor over the last 20 years, what I’ve seen again and again is people with a growing sense that there’s spirituality in some vital and yet mysterious way central to who they are as a person. And yet the dominant perception and conception and understanding of God they encountered along the way aren’t just failing them but in many cases are causing harm.

Is God going to be left behind like Oldsmobile? I don’t think so. Because I believe there are other ways, better ways of talking about God and understanding God because I believe God is with us and for us. And I believe God is actually ahead of us, calling us and drawing us, and inviting us and pulling us all – everyone of us – into a better future than we can ever imagined.”

– Rob Bell (Video preview of “What We Talk About When We Talk About God“)

Maybe the collective consciousness of humanity has been evolving and is coming to a place where today many of us are no longer easily bound by the traditional ideologies of a small and mean God propagated by many institutional churches, even as we are learning to tap into our inner wisdom and listen to the still, small voice of Love within us to know and understand the mystery of God who is in us, with us and for us.

Some books that Rob Bell read

I noted from this Barnes and Noble website that Rob Bell has been reading a number of books that may have inspired and influenced his messages and writings recently. Among these books is “I Asked For Wonder: A Spiritual Anthology” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, so perhaps Rob Bell’s recent messages on living life with wide-eyed wonder and awe would have been influenced by his writings.

I also noted that Rob Bell has been reading another Jewish mysticism book called “God Was in This Place & I, I Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality, and Ultimate Meaning” by Lawrence Kushner, which may have influenced his style of writing and delivering messages too. I like what one reviewer wrote about the book’s contents here:

“Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezritch
The word Maggid means ‘storyteller’. Through the stories, here the key is self-reflection, to find meaning in the innermost being, to find that still, small voice that can only speak in silence and the absence of our own activity.
God was here because I stopped being aware of myself.”

FrKurt Messick (Book review of “God Was in This Place & I, I Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality, and Ultimate Meaning“)

Yes, perhaps some of the narratives in the Bible, such as the story of Jacob dreaming about angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven, are meant to be stories for self-reflection, for the readers to find meaning in the innermost being and find that still, small voice that speaks in silence when we spend time in contemplative stillness.

Here’s sharing an excerpt from another review of the Jewish mysticism book “God was in this place and I, i did not know”:

“7. Ostropol (Shimson ben Pesach Ostropoler, d. 1648). He would say that it should be read, “God was in this place and I did not know it was i.” We are somehow an indispensable part of God (p. 173). To look at your own hands is to look at the hands of God (p. 174). ”

J. Miller (Book review of “God Was in This Place & I, I Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality, and Ultimate Meaning“)

I also would like to see that we are somehow an indispensable part of God, and to look at our own hands is to look at the hands of God because we are made in the image of God and we are co-creators with God. Maybe life is about self-realisation and self-awareness – to realise and be aware of our innate oneness with God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

 

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