Thursday, January 15, 2009
nooma: empty shells.
There is no doubt that Rob Bell is an engaging, stimulating, inspiring and uplifting public speaker. This is especially evident in the nooma videos. Each are about 13 minutes long. One word titles. Great music in the background. An incredibly satisfying noise that rolls in with the opening credits at the beginning of each video. Very cool. He also has much cooler glasses than me.
However, for all that could be said to be good about them, the most striking thing I have found, having watched a few of them is the entire absence of the gospel.
Greg Gilbert has done a great 3 part review of them over on the 9marks website. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
In the third part there is an excellent summary of videos 1-19.
He'd written the reviews before "shells" came out.
It is entitled shells because of the story he tells at the end. He's walking on the beach with friends. They are collecting shells. Suddenly in the shallows they spot the most beautiful starfish. One of his friends tries to catch it but every time he snatches at it it evades his grasp. Why? Because his hands are full of shells.
"Is this you?" he asks, "So busy doing so much that your hands are full of shells. Good shells. Pursue the few things that God has for you. May you be like Jesus, able to say 'no' because you already said 'Yes'"
That is the most shocking thing, because this is the climax. Was this the exposition of a verse from Proverbs? No, Bell had started by talking about how Jesus had singlemindedly set his face towards Jerusalem. And the main point he takes from that is not that we needed Jesus to go to Jerusalem for there he would lay down his life as a ransom for many, but that we need to be like Jesus in having singleminded priorities.
Perhaps Bell here is clasping at the shells of moralism when the beautiful starfish of the gospel has completely evaded him. Perhaps he has held onto the collection of 22 moral gems, and yet has failed to hold out to anyone the pearl of great price.