Monday, May 28, 2007

'Velvet Elvis' by Rob Bell

Rob Bell is the pastor of the enormously popular Mars Hill Church in Grandville, MI. I visited Mars Hill once a few years ago when Laura and I took a few weeks to visit other churches and, unfortunately, he wasn't preaching. I bet we had four or five people (who we saw there and knew) tell us that we should come back some time when Rob was preaching – we didn't even bring it up – they just told us that because it makes such a difference. Clearly, this church is as big as it is because of the charisma and the preaching of Rob Bell.

I've also seen (and appreciated) some of Bell's Nooma video series. Nooma is a series of short (approx 8 min) videos in which Bell talks about something. These are good discussion starter videos and, at least one of them gave me a new insight into scripture. Velvet Elvis is a lot like those. It is basically a series of short unconnected essays in the same style that Bell uses in his videos. This isn't a book that makes one particular point – it's a book of independent musings. Bell does this well and some of his insights are particularly good but the book never gets any traction on any particular subject. The chapters could almost be in any order.

Bell's writing style tends to be many short paragraphs.

Really short.

Like sometimes only a word or two.

He writes much the way he speaks.

If you pause briefly at the end of each of these mini-paragraphs you get a sense for the way he talks.

At least in the videos.

So it took me a while to get into his writing style which, frankly, bugged me for the first chapter or two. But once he got into some better content I was less irritated by the style.

Overall, Velvet Elvis is a fine book. It reads quickly and has some good information in it – perhaps not as much a you might think. If I get the opportunity I think I'll probably read his follow up book, Sex God, although I'm guessing that it is basically more of the same. That's not all bad but I was left wishing that there had been something in particular that I took away from Velvet Elvis other than a series of "that was cool" moments.


Michael Krahn said...

Michael Krahn said...

Sorry about that...

I just finished a series on Rob's book "Velvet Elvis" that I think you'd enjoy at:

revolution said...

"sex/god" was not nearly as interesting as "velvet elvis". velvet elvis posed some really good questions, while not always giving the correct answers, or even answers at all, which would hold true to postmodernism.