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What We Talk About When We Talk About God

by Gary Paterson

I picked this book up a couple of months ago because of the title: What We Talk About When We Talk About God (2013) and because I like the easy, conversational style of its author, Rob Bell, who has a fun and deep way with words and ideas. His background is “emergent evangelical;” he would feel very much at home in the United Church, but he would push us into experiencing God more passionately and vividly.

From the Jacket:

We’ve all had moments when we’ve found ourselves deeply aware of the something more of life, the sense that all of this might just mean something, that it may not be an accident, that it matters.  For a massive number of people, to deny this reverence humming within us leaves them cold, bored and uninspired.  It doesn’t ring true to our experiences of life.

 But when people turn to many of the conventional religious explanations for this reverence, they’re often led to the God who is like Oldsmobiles, the one who’s back there, behind, unable to keep up.  All of this raises the questions: Are there other ways to talk about the reverence humming in us?  Are there other ways to talk about the sense that there’s way more going on here?”  Are there other ways to talk about God?”

Well, Rob Bell’s answer is yes, as he builds his short book around five simple words:

First, “open” and “both” are descriptions of how to engage in the conversation;

And “with,” “for,” and “ahead” are the key words to describe God’s nature:

God is always “with” us as the ever present energy, the glue, the force, the life, the power and the source of all;

God is “for” every single one us, regardless of any and everything… and God wants each to flourish and thrive in this world here and now;

God is “ahead” of us, pulling us and calling us and drawing all humans forward into greater peace, love, justice, connection, honesty, compassion and joy.

And then Rob’s final chapter is entitled, “so”… as in “so what difference does all this make…. in how you imagine God, and in how you live your life?”

Challenging, exciting… and enjoyable to read!

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