Thursday, October 14, 2010

book review: drops like stars

before commenting on this book, let me go ahead and tell you that i'm a rob bell fan.  if you think he's a heretic, this book (or my review) isn't going to change your mind.  i'm not like an avid follower of the guy or anything, but his writings have really inspired me and i feel that deep down "yes!" in my soul when i read his works.  like a pregnant elizabeth, something leaps within me, and i can't help but respond to that.  so, that should give some perspective to my thoughts on this book.

now that that's out of the way, let me tell you about this book.  "drops like stars" is bell's newest book (released in 2009...sorry, i'm a bit behind the times...story of my life).  continuing in the rob bell tradition of shunning the status quo, the book bucks the trends of normal publishing.  the table of contents comes at the end, which comes as a bit of a surprise when you get to it, because there are no chapter breaks in the book, and it's only when you get to the table of contents that you see how he sort of organized the stories.  i found that to be an interesting method.  this is also not just your average "christian living" book, as it is over 12 inches tall and over 10 inches wide.  it is what you might call a 'coffee table' book.  and it sort of behaves like one, too.  it is full of full-color photographs and artsy presentation.  the text is almost playfully placed, with some pages only bearing a word or two.  this keeps the book entertaining and moving fast, so that it is quite reasonable to get through its 162 pages in one sitting of about 45 minutes or so. 

but it isn't just presentation.  the meat of it is very good, as well.  the subtitle is: "a few thoughts on creativity and suffering," which was certainly enough to get my attention.  as i began reading it, i found it to be pretty classic rob bell, in that it weaves stories together in ways that connect with our own experiences and cause us to think deeply about the world around us and the God who created it all.  he begins with a compelling story about a man he knows who has two sons.  both sons are married and were to have babies in the same year.  one of the pregnancies ended in a miscarriage while the other resulted in a healthy baby boy.  he writes about the how the grandfather twice went to the same hospital and walked down the same hallways with the same family members.  once to grieve, and once to celebrate.  then bell asks, "we live in the hallways, don't we?"  which is a fascinating way to think about how we live our lives in the midst of both great joy and deep suffering.  this sets the context for the rest of the adventure book, which he reveals at the end, is subdivided by such categories as "the art of disruption," "the art of honesty," "the art of the ache," "the art of solidarity," "the art of elimination," and "the art of failure." 

and again, in what i perceive to be rob bell's style, the book doesn't neatly tie up each section with a synopsis about what Christians should believe.  it just sort of leaves you with things to think about.  it is compelling rather than didactic.  it is more like poetry and less like doctrine.  it is more like questions and less like answers (which, if you read this blog much at all, should give you a clue about why i like it!).  i would absolutely recommend that you read this book, especially if you've been struggling with some kind of suffering or pain in your life.  it won't likely give you any answers, but it may just help you  ask the right questions.  but one more thing: if you're going to read it, see if you can borrow it from someone, or by it on the cheap, because the $34.99 retail price is WAY too much.  i saw it at one discount store for under $10, or you could always borrow mine.  just let me know. 

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