Friday, November 29, 2013

Rob Bell's "What Is the Bible?" Series

Rob Bell has been blogging a series called "What Is the Bible?" If you're interested in reading it from the beginning, it starts here.

I'm neither a particular fan nor a particular detractor of Rob. (He strikes me as the kind of guy who'd like you to refer to him by his first name. Rob, feel free to call me Keith if you pop in.)

I read his Velvet Elvis, which didn't make a really significant impression; I think he was just tilting at different windmills than those that occupy my back yard. I haven't read any of this other books, including the controversial Love Wins. I was going to write that I have no particular axe to grind, but of course that isn't true; everyone has an axe to grind. I guess it's more true to write that I'm not jumping on board any particular pro-Rob or anti-Rob bandwagon.

So anyway, back to the "What Is the Bible?" series. A good summation of Rob's method can be found in Part 13: Consciousness and Violence. Rob's essential argument is that the Bible was written by people (he doesn't deny divine inspiration, but I suspect that what "inspiration" means is one of the things he'll get around to), those people were influenced by their own cultural biases and attitudes, those biases and attitudes become a part of the text, but also some new thoughts and ideas that weren't a part of the writers' culture also get introduced, which pulls the consciousness and attitudes of humanity forward. This process is very slow, because humanity is incapable of turning on a dime. God works from where we are, and draws us toward the next step forward.

Mike Breen and Building a Discipling Culture: A Dissent

Note (January 7, 2018): since this post has engendered more comments than the Blogger platform seems able to deal with, I would like to invite anyone interested in continuing the discussion over to a more recent post at You can download an excellent in-depth commentary on Building a Discipling Culture  from there, and commenting and responding will be easier to get to than on this page.

Last summer, I commented on a review of Mike Breen's Building a Discipling Culture. The original review was at a blog entitled Notes from the Trail. In it, Jeff Noble offered a mixed review of Breen's book, lauding its intentional and structured approach to discipleship, but questioning the necessity of such a convoluted approach to discipleship and the effectiveness of the geometric images that Breen employs.

Based on my own experience in a church that had begun using Breen's approach, I commented on Noble's review. I've thought long and hard about whether to deal with the subject here on this blog, and decided that rather than saying a lot myself, I'd simply reprint my comment on the original review, along with a couple of the responses to me. I'm doing so because I think that Breen's approach is dangerous, and I feel that I need to let people know. My comment on the original review read as follows:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First they came for Veteran's Day, but I wasn't a veteran.
Then they came for President's Day, but I wasn't a president.
Then they came for Memorial Day, but I had no close relatives to honor.
Then they came for Labor Day, but I wasn't in the labor movement.
And now they're coming for Thanksgiving Day, and the precedent's already been set.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

James Franco's Film Adaptation of As I Lay Dying

James Franco's film adaptation of William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying is both wonderful and frustrating. Wonderful because it succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of Faulkner's novel so well; frustrating because of the aspects that didn't work, and didn't have to fail.

James Franco As I Lay Dying movie photo
As I Lay Dying has been thought to be unfilmable because of the central narrative device of using various points of view to tell the story. Fifteen characters narrate a total of 59 chapters, and the book's power lies largely in seeing how different characters view the same events, how each person's hidden perspective and agenda shapes his or her view of the events they are describing.