This has been quite a year for good books for me. I have read in the last 12 months some of the most interesting and formative books I have ever read - the New Kind of Christian trilogy, Blue Like Jazz, some church ministry books like The Emerging Church and Starting High Definition Churches. And now Velvet Elvis.
Rob Bell's teaching and writing is very influenced by ancient Jewish culture. He is all the time saying, "The rabbis said ..." It brings a texture to his perspective that is fantastic. He also brings out a number of background nuggets that make certain passages make perfect sense. Several times while reading, I would say to Vanessa, "Why haven't I heard this before?" I don't know if Rob Bell is making it up, but I don't want to know if he was - it was so interesting.
There were a number of themes and topics that I really identified with. His perspective early on about theology being like the springs of a trampoline was inspired. I have already used that analogy a number of times since then.
His take on the end of the world - that the Bible ends with God coming to earth not us going to heaven - brought my own view into greater clarity.
The personal struggles he shares made me feel - again - like I am not the only one thinkig these thoughts. And that is comforting.
The only part that I had some significant theological stuggle with was his take on the universal implications of the death of Jesus. He suggests that all have been forgiven, but some simply have chosen not to accept that forgiveness. I understand his point. I would express it a much different way.
I was going to add some of my favorite one-liners from the book, but Ness has just started it, and I don't want to tear it away from her. So, it will have to wait.
All in all, Velvet Elvis is one of the best books I've read this year.