DVD, Flannell, Zondervan, 2007
Running time: 01:17:52.
Rob Bell is familiar to most through the short Nooma DVDs. This is different, there are no set pieces, no clever camera angles or tricks and it lasts much longer. This is a recording from his 25 plus city 'Everything is Spiritual' tour in 2006. The performance on the DVD took place in an Arts Centre in Grand Rapids, USA.
This is a cross between a sermon, lecture, performance art - at the end a huge white board is covered in notes - and stand-up. Bell is a gifted communicator and appears to be speaking without notes. He speaks for over a hour and a quarter but it seems like twenty minutes. Were that all church speakers were as absorbing.
The 'chapters' on the DVD are as follows:
In the beginning 00:00:00Bell begins at the beginning, Genesis 1 - he calls is an ancient Hebrew poem - and draws out its implications. He adopts a framework hypothesis and explores the many times phrases and words occur in threes, sevens (eg the first verse has seven words, the second verse 14 words (7 x 2), earth occurs 21 times (7 x3), God 35 times (7 x 5), 'And God saw' 7 times) and tens (the following phrases all occur ten times: 'according to their kind', 'and God saied ...', 'let there be ...'), suggesting that the author have have had some [divine] help!
100 billion galaxies 00:09:07
Atoms are small 00: 21:11
You are here 00:57:50
Everything is spiritual 01:11:10
He then looks at the immense size of the universe from the very large (galaxies) to the very small (atoms and sub-atomic particles). In doing so he is able to draw out the incredible and awesomeness of the creation and brings glory to the Creator. The fine tuning of the universe is then briefly explained.
Edwin Abbot's Flatland analogy is then explored to make some excellent points. He suggests that it could unite science and faith, and predestination and freewill. Science is a circle in the 2D flatland, faith is a square; but in reality they may be 2D representations of a 3D cylinder.
He sees humans as being both spiritual and physical. We can't help but being spiritual - hence everything is spiritual. However, he doesn't really define what he means by 'spiritual'. I would like to have seen him develop this a little more. It is all well and good being spiritual (structure) but how are we to develop and embody it (direction).
There are a number of small errors that Bell makes in the science, these have been identified here. These don't however, detract from his main points. There is nothing new or ground-breaking on this DVD and there are numerous of resources that Bell has drawn upon, including Henri Blocher and Nahum Sarna on Genesis, Hugh Ross and George Schroeder on science and Genesis and Abbott's Flatland. But what Bell does is make it all accessible, fascinating, intriguing and very watchable and in the end it stirred up a response to worship our amazing Creator.
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