The Grey Matters – Rob Bell & The Art of Questioning
The Grey Matters was the landing spot for the creative and contemplative works that bounce around the confines of my head, as well as the inspirations that put them there. With the re-release of Viva, we decided to merge the blogs. Click here for more behind the meaning behind TGM.
I’ve been reading quite a bit of Rob Bell’s work lately. It’s right up my alley, really, as he doesn’t do a lot of preaching, instead choosing to focus the majority of his work on the asking of questions. For some, this is his fatal flaw, the reason they can’t get into him. They feel his questioning leaves you simply adrift, with no resolution to cling back to. Some even feel this is dangerous. A person adrift doesn’t have a lot of options.
I’m more of a swimmer, I think, and I’ve felt adrift for years. I’ve gotten pretty good at treading water. So the idea that Bell could throw me off course isn’t a concern. Rather, I feel his willingness to ask the tough question or braze the tough thought is inspiring. First because it causes me to question, to probe, to discover. But second, and maybe more importantly, it reminds me that I’m not alone in the struggle. That even someone who should have the answers perhaps doesn’t, and that’s ok.
Nonetheless, I find his writing gripping. I’ve been semi-actively reading (I’m terrible at reading books) What We Talk About When We Talk About God, as well as his Tumblr series on the Bible. They’ve both been causing me to think a lot more about God and about the presence of God on Earth. This is a sensitive subject for me, as many of my writings will suggest, but it’s been really helpful to me.
But Rob Bell is controversial, right? He believes some out there things, right?
I think anytime you begin to debate/discuss theology, you open yourself up to be criticized and dismissed by people. I hold very strongly to the statement that it’s not so much what you say, as much as it is HOW you say it. There are things we can be right/wrong about, for sure, but I’m less interested in fighting out the details as I am with working to be inclusive and loving and supporting of people. Honestly I’m just so OVER the bitter fight of Christianity. I can personally attest to it doing far more harm than good. I feel like I’m just getting to know God on a more intimate level than I ever have…and a big part of that was letting go of the need to be right.
It’s all in the lenses we view things through. We like to get upset when someone uses a verse out of context, but in truth, that’s all we can do. Everything is to some degree taken through the experiences and paradigms that we hold, and because of this, is slightly out of context. In other words, we weren’t there, so we can’t possibly be attuned to the minutiae of that moment in history. Because of this, our convictions must be flexible and pliable and open to inspiration.
I think it’s perfectly ok to be challenged and inspired and even convicted by people around you, whether you initially believe what they’re saying or not. I think that’s just an example of God speaking through people. For me, that’s been Rob Bell.
NEXT: Thoughts on the work of Rob Bell…I just need to organize my thoughts.