what the hell…

The givens:

Rob Bell wrote a book about Love (and Hell, or the absence of it, or the absence of people in it)

Rob Bell did publicity for it.

A bunch of people got mad and called him names before they read it.

A bunch of newspeople and bloggers spent a lot of time writing about their take on the givens above.


Am I a bad Christian because I don’t actually care what Rob Bell’s book says about Hell? Or because I care even less about the drama surrounding his book?

‘Cause I don’t really care.

I held off writing about it for as long as I could, I really did. I didn’t hold off because I don’t care about what he’s written or how people are responding. I held off because you know what they say opinions are like…and because I wonder if we all don’t finally get tired of everybody showing off their opinions online. I know I get tired of it.

What came to me today as I was driving and talking to myself about this whole thing was that on some level I must care or I wouldn’t pay it much attention. Maybe I care more that people I respect a whole lot care what Rob Bell’s written or care what people think about it. I’ve read a number of “opinions” on the subject and they are as diverse as the company I keep. That is to be expected.

Still, it bothered me, this whole thing. I couldn’t figure out what it was that kept me opening a new document and starting to type about it. I kept opening this piece with, “I’m pissed off and I don’t know why….because I don’t care about this….” Clearly, I care.

It was a long car ride so I talked it out. What IS it about this that bothers me so? Everyone has an opinion, what else is new? I think it’s because we can’t have a nice family dinner anymore.

Then I had this thought about the plethora of content we can find online these days. Now, more than ever it’s easy to shore up our wobbly opinions. I wonder if the surplus of accessible opinion stops us from thinking sometimes. We become people who spout off quotes of quotes of quotes and we don’t even know where our information originates. We come to the table with our mind made up and if the people at that table don’t agree we just hop to the next one. We take the crazy speed dating approach to discourse. We can’t have a nice family dinner anymore. We can’t even talk about how we differ without everybody getting defensive and somebody throwing a parker house roll at someone else.

Or maybe I’m projecting.

I do wonder if the internet is really expanding our horizons at all…we’re capable of having our horizons expanded, people. We ought to be aiming for this but you know what? To be expanded we have to be willing to engage and to engage we have to be willing to withhold judgement and in order to withhold judgement we have to be willing to BE WRONG.

And that, friends, is a rather frightening prospect.

All in all, I GET why this is such a heated argument. I understand why so many are afraid of this ancient argument about the nature of God. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun. This is not the first book written on this subject and it certainly won’t be the last. That much is certain. Only that is certain, perhaps.

So I don’t know if I’m a bad Christian if I don’t actually care what Rob Bell’s book says or what people think about his book. I reckon my lack of care about the book itself makes me at worst, a bad consumer. I think what might make me a bad Christian though, what makes any of us bad Christians would be a lack of care for one another, a reluctance to engage and an openness to listen, to hear, to not be afraid of being challenged and to pass the potatoes without starting a food fight in the process.


2 thoughts on “what the hell…

  1. sometimes i think you crawl in my head with me.

    exactly. so what? the guy wrote a book. i care so less, i had to google is to find out what all the fuss is about. wait…does that mean i DO care? thanks for saying aloud what i couldn’t (you do it so often).

    now, who’s this rebecca black?!

  2. This animated yet civil table discussion of which you speak, I’ve been missing it for some time. Yet, I think, here in CT, in bits it’s returning. But it takes some work. Been doing a series called Conversations on Courage and Faith, invited people to sit down with guys like Marcus Borg, Tony Campolo, Jeremy Begbie, NT Wright. Many come in ready for a fight. But when ‘I might be wrong’ is what’s modeled, slowly we’re learning to respectfully disagree, or better yet, change our minds. Good piece. Thanks.

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