Who Is Rob Bell?

This post is part of the Patheos Book Club. Check out the Book Club for more posts on this book, an interview with the author, and for responses from other bloggers and columnists.

I got a lot of Rob Bell this weekend. First, I read the New Yorker profile on him, then I dove into James Wellman’s book, Rob Bell and a New American ChristianityThe two intersected often, and sometime contradicted each other.

Before I proffer my analysis, let me remind you: I don’t know Rob Bell well. I’ve spoken to him twice — once in 2003ish, and once in 2011. Both were brief and passing conversations. I’ve never received an email from him; I don’t have his cell phone number. I am one degree of separation removed from him, being that I have several friends who know him quite well. I am generally sympathetic to his project, but as my reviews of Love Wins made clear, I also have problems with some of his conclusions (or lack thereof).

First, the New Yorker (the article is here, behind a pay wall):

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Remixing David Simon – for the Church

After the election, David Simon wrote a compelling post about change and our society. Simon is one of our best writers and thinkers, and I happen to believe that his show, The Wire, is the best show in the history of television. I have taken the liberty to remix his prescient words to the American electorate, because I think they’re equally applicable to the church:

David Simon (Wikicommons)

Barack Obama And The Death Of Normal Evangelicalism

I was on an airplane last night as the election was decided. As the plane landed after midnight on the East Coast, I confess that my hand was shaking as I turned on my phone for the news. I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded. It is hard enough for anyone to actually address the problems, to move this country forward, to make the intransigent American ruling class yield even a yard of the past to the inevitable future. But going backwards last night would have been devastating. I read the returns in silent elation; a business trip had me traveling in business class and the gnashing of corporate teeth all around precluded a full-throated huzzah on my part. I abhor a gloat.

But the country church is changing. And this may be the last election liturgical year in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals. Some in the Republican party church and among the teabagged fringe will continue to play such losing hands for some time to come; this shit worked well in its day and distracted many from addressing any of our essential national ecclesiological and theological issues. But again, if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.

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Church of England Decides that Silly Clothes Aren’t the Only Thing They Want To Keep from the 16th Century

According to the Church of England, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori doesn’t exist.

The Church of England has decided to continue an archaic and oppressive policy that only individuals with penises are allowed to be bishops:

Church of England Rejects Appointing Female Bishops

LONDON — The mood of crisis in the Church of England deepened on Wednesday when bishops scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the repercussions of the ballot at a synod a day earlier that rejected the appointment of female bishops, a change that has been debated intensely and often bitterly for the past decade.

Something I Know about Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley and Charles Stanley

Over the weekend, CNN posted a lengthy story about the tenuous relationship between two prominent Atlanta preachers: Charles Stanley and his son, Andy. I’ve remarked to a couple people lately what an interesting time we’re in, as we watch the sons (and occasionally daughters) of prominent evangelicals. Of course, we’ve seen it writ large with Franklin Graham and Robert Schuller’s children recently. But I’ve also had the pleasure of befriending Jay Bakker, Sean McDowell, Chuck Smith, Jr., and a few others. Those sons bear a heavy burden.

I’ve only met Andy Stanley, pastor of the massive North Pointe Church, once, but it was memorable.

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