Friday, October 02, 2009

"There may be more church going on at the punk rock club anyway"

Excerpt of Rob Bell interview by Boston Globe:

Q: Do you preach, or perform?
A: I came up through your standard go-to-seminary path, served as an apprentice pastor, did weddings and funerals and hospital visits, but I always veered toward creating things. I was always setting stuff on fire, building things, bringing in piles of dirt. And I started to realize that there’s a dimension to the sermon in which it’s a kind of performance art. Over the years, I’ve realized that I have as much in common with the performance artist, the standup comedian, the screenwriter, as I do with the theologian. I’m in an odd world where I make things and share them with people.

Q: Presumably your events have a different goal than those of a stand-up comedian?
A: At the heart of the historic Christian story has been an insistence that every individual matters. So I think, for a lot of people, just hearing you matters. There are great causes of our day, and we can each take a small role and do something about that.

Q: But what is the purpose of your tours?
A: One is that, when you work really hard to create something, a book or a film or a sermon, it’s just pure joy to share it with people. Tonight I’m in Ottawa, and I’ll go up and for two hours take people on a journey through the content of the book. It’s the joy of the communal gathering, taking these ideas and turning them loose. At the most basic level, it’s just great fun.

Q: What is this tour about?
A: Give me the right music and lighting and setting, and you can do almost anything. What’s far more interesting is when people are presented with ideas and begin to reshape the way you see the world. This tour, I’m walking people through suffering and creativity. How many people, if you ask them to talk about defining moments in their lives, mention really hard things? People rarely say, ‘Well, I went on vacation…’ These moments in our lives that are the most traumatic, that we would do anything to avoid, end up in retrospect being the moments that shape us. My goal is to create an experience that opens people up. There is no altar call. No one comes down and checks a box.

Q: Why do you perform in entertainment venues?
A: I'm most comfortable in clubs and theaters. That's where I feel most at home. And I don’t believe the church is a building – it’s a group of people who have gathered around the resurrection. I don’t even buy the idea that a pile of bricks somewhere is a church. There may be more church going on at the punk rock club anyway. And people will say things like that – ‘We were at a crap dive, and I had a strange feeling that I was experiencing the divine.’’

Q: How did you get interested in suffering?
A: As a pastor, you get invited into the most poignant moments of people’s lives. Whether it's a wedding or a funeral or a hospital visit, you get invited into the center of the event, whether or not you know the people. So I repeatedly found myself literally in the front row of the most visceral, traumatic sorts of moments in people’s lives. And then, just doing lectures at a creativity forum and a writing festival, and talking about how art comes to be, there was a connection between these two halves of my life – all these connections between suffering and art-making..

-Rob Bell on faith, suffering, and Christians

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!