Book Review-What We Talk about when We Talk about God

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What We Talk about when We Talk about God Rob Bell

New York: HarperOne, 2013.

Emotional Response-3

Scholarly Response-3

In this book, Rob Bells tells us God is always with us, God is for us, and God is moving us forward. If you have never heard any of these things or if you need to be reminded of any of them, this books is for you. In these pages, you’ll find Scripture, modern culture, science, and a variety of other sources cited to talk about how we talk about God.

For me, there was too much technical science. Others might not be bothered by this, but it was too much for me. In II. Who Ordered That?, I felt like I was watching The Big Bang Theory without the funny parts–just the boys (as my parents call them) talking about things that do not make sense to me, and yet, I kept reading because I wanted to see where he is going.

All of this science talk is Rob Bell’s way of opening the reader to the complexity of what we know. We can be _______ and _______. It doesn’t need to be either/or. And what goes into the blanks is limitless.

Probably (or most likely) because of my own experiences of God and where I’ve studied, much of what was said in this book wasn’t new to me (except some of the very detailed science stuff!). And yet, like everyone I need to be reminded. I appreciate this book for reminding me of how big God is.

As a warning, some people find the formatting of Rob Bell’s books distracting. It is true he does include lots of white space on every page. I use the white space as a reminder to slow down. I will say that this same formatting happens in every single one of his books I’ve read.

“Like a mirror, God appears to be more and more a reflection of whoever it is that happens to be talking about God at the moment” (2). This reminds me of Anne Lamott’s quote, “You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” See I told you I really do like Anne Lamott.

“We are both large and small, strong and weak, formidable and faint, reflecting the image of the divine, and formed from dust” (56).

“To be closed-minded to anything that does not fit within predetermined and agreed-upon categories is to deny our very real experiences of the world” (80).

“For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren’t opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it’s alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren’t opposites; they are, in turns out, excellent dance partners” (92).

“There is the unexpected subversion of the cross, turning so many of our ideas about God on their heads, insisting that God is so for us that God is willing to take on the worst the world can bring and suffer it, absorb it, and feel it, right down to the last breath” (144).

“Imagine that–religious people quoting the Bible to defend actions that were the exact opposite of the intent and purpose of those very same scriptures! It’s possible, then, to be quoting the Bible out of the conviction that you’re defending God’s way when in fact you’re in that exact moment working against how God wants to continue drawing and pulling and calling humanity forward” (161).

“Jesus doesn’t divide the world up into the common and the sacred; he gives us eyes to the sacred in the common” (184).

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