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O Me of Little Faith

A self-interview:

———————–

So…shouldn’t you, like, be posting something about Rob Bell’s event in New York City with Lisa Miller? The launch of the “Love Wins” book tour?

Probably. Why do you ask?

Because your earlier thoughts about Bell’s book brought a whole lot of readers to this blog, and it’s still a hot topic. Don’t all good bloggers want lots of readers?

Yes, but maybe I’m not a good blogger.

And yet you’re still blogging about “Love Wins,” right? You can’t really have it both ways, Mr. High Horse.

You’ve got me on that one.

So why didn’t you post something about the event yesterday, like every other religious blogger?

Because I haven’t watched the interview yet.

Gasp.

You’re funny when you say “Gasp.” Do you also say “sneeze” when something tickles your nose?

I’m the one asking questions here. Why didn’t you post immediately about the interview?

Because I was traveling home from a spring break trip with my kids on Monday. I didn’t watch the interview live. I still haven’t watched it.

Why not?

I’ve been busy. I missed a couple days of work. I’ve got stuff to do.

Where are your priorities, religious blogger?

That’s a peculiar question to ask. Based on the number of blog posts by Christians this week (and last), you’d think the most important thing in the world right now is whether or not a pastor from Michigan believes in hell. Seems kind of stupid to argue about theology when there are some pretty significant real-world problems going on in Japan.

Honestly, when 10,000 people have died and a whole lot more are in danger from radiation leaks, it makes me uncomfortable to keep talking about Rob Bell’s theology. 

Not uncomfortable enough to keep his name out of the title of this post, though.

Touché.

So if you haven’t watched the interview, at least you’ve read about it, right?

Yes. I’ve read a few recaps and a transcript of the event, plus some commentaries. It seems that most people who are predisposed to like Rob Bell thought the event was great, and those who are predisposed to not like him thought the event was as ridiculous as they expected.

But what do you think? Because you are predisposed to like him, right?

Generally, yes. I think Bell is an expert at asking open-ended questions and making listeners think about long-held religious beliefs, and I think those are good and necessary things. But he’s also fond of answering a direct question with a simple yes-or-no answer — or what appears to be a simple yes-and-no answer — then going on to explain himself in ways that don’t really back up that immediate yes-or-no answer as clearly as everyone hopes. So while he seems to be being direct, he’s not.

Bell has often been accused of using a bunch of words without saying much. He also tells lots of stories and speaks in abstraction when it’s not always necessary.

People don’t like that.

No. We want direct, clear answers to questions like “Do you believe that hell is a real place or just on earth?” We don’t want rambling answers about how people create a kind of “hell” for themselves on earth, to use an example from the interview.

Why can’t he just answer the simple question? Why is he avoiding direct answers? It’s so annoying.

Yes, it is. Then again, Jesus did the same thing.

What?

He answered questions with more questions. And with rambling stories. And occasionally with obtuse teachings that his followers didn’t understand at all and that sometimes made them just flat-out walk away. That one time, Nicodemus asked Jesus, point-blank, to explain what it meant to be “born again.” Jesus really could have cleared things up for those of us who are trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of salvation — including Nicodemus, an influential early follower. Doing so at that stage in his ministry would have seemed to be an important step. But Jesus just answered Nicodemus with a vague metaphor about the wind. Lots of words, which led to lots of confusion. No concrete answers. So annoying.

Are you saying that Rob Bell is like Jesus?

Don’t be stupid. Jesus had much better hair.

Have you read Love Wins yet?

No. It arrived over the weekend. I’ll start it when I finish the book I’m reading now.

Which is…?

Forged, by Bart Ehrman.

Ooh.

And also 100 Cupboards, by N.D. Wilson.

Those are very different books.

I operate on a pretty broad reading spectrum. Also, my daughter recommended 100 Cupboards to me, and I like to read the books she recommends.

Who recommended Forged?

Bart Ehrman’s publisher. They hope I’ll review it. But I probably would have read it anyway, because whatever you think about Ehrman, he’s a great educator about the Bible.

I think he’s a heretic.

Like Rob Bell?

Yes. But much more direct in his heresy.

I like the way we’ve tied this whole post together here at the end.

Me too.

Cool. I’m off to see what’s happening in Japan.

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