Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell

“How we think about God is directly connected to how we think about the world we’re living in.”

This was the first book that I both started and finished in 2019.
(You can find my full reading list here.)

Within the first couple pages of this book I remembered that I had read it before. Right after I moved to Niagara Falls a few years ago, but I decided to just go ahead and reread it. I love the premise of the book - reframing God as the God who is with us and for us. Not a God that is somewhere far away waiting to punish people, but rather someone who loves us and in the midst of good times and hard times and messy times, he’s right there in the middle of it with us and he is on our side, calling us to the next step of being the best version of ourselves.


Quotes & Notes

  • Holism is the reality that emerges only when all the parts are put together but can’t be individually located at smaller levels. (AKA: You are only you when you are you. Your elbow isn’t you, but it is you. Your foot isn’t you, but it is you. One atom of you is not you, but when all the atoms of you are together suddenly together they are you.)

  • The intellect has a way of building a fence around the heart, cutting us off from what we know to be true in a way that is hard to prove according to the categories in which proof matters.

  • The story of Moses seeing God’s back - one commentary says it like this: Moses got to see a glimpse of where God just was. I want to spend my life chasing glimpses of God.

  • Faith and doubt aren’t opposites. They are it turns out, excellent dance partners. You can understand something with so much conviction that you would die for that belief, and yet in the same moment say, ‘I could be wrong.’ Conviction and humility are not opposites.

  • In giving life to everything, God also gives creation the freedom to be whatever it’s going to be with all the possibilities and potentials for good and bad and beauty and chaos and love and loss that freedom might lead to.

  • All of life is sacred and holy. Interactions. Events. Tasks. Conversation. Work. Words.

  • The ground doesn’t become holy. Moses takes his sandals off because he realizes the ground has always been holy. You are already on holy ground - wherever you are.

  • We don’t transform our shadow side by denial but by entering into it, embracing it, naming it, because we believe that God is with us and for us.

  • What the modern world did in its fascination with parts and pieces is teach us that we are individual, isolated human units, talking and conversing and interacting, but not more than that. But we intuitively know there’s more than that.

  • We need reminders of who we are and how things actually are.

  • “And now I see God everywhere.”