“My grandma kept cash in her bra,” is the opening line in “Everything is Spiritual,” by Rob Bell. Bell was a Christian pastor of a megachurch until 2012. I am not sure exactly how he sees himself today, but I am sure he has clarified that somewhere but not in this book at least.
He writes in bursts. A regular paragraph like this:
“I picked up on all that muted grief floating in the air between my grandma and dad, and from an early age I just wanted to make them laugh.”
“That’s what I remember.
I made her laugh.
I made him laugh.
If I could get them laughing so hard they were in tears,
I knew I’d done something.”
Then back to regular paragraphs.
He discusses tripping over what he calls a “spiritual talk thing” and decided that was what he was going to do with his life. So he retells some of what happened before his church voted him out. In this book, he really doesn’t talk about that. You need to read “Love Wins” to get that full story.
He talks about his dad’s father and how he died young and how that somehow influenced his sense of things. He says, “However solid life may appear, it’s also very fragile.” To be fair he says that on two separate lines. This style does allow him to emphasize things without putting them in italics, yet he does that too. Everything in the book has weight in this way.
In the following the first line is italicized:
“What do you do with the pain in life?”
“You keep moving, keep accomplishing, keep striving. Whatever you do, don’t be lazy. Don’t appear to be coasting. And whatever happens, stay a step ahead of the pain. Keep it buried. Keep it down.”
That is how he thought he should be living his life based on his childhood. Now he sees things differently. He says, “Through the help of a number of guides over the years, I begin to see a new way to be, one rooted in the enduring truth: There’s nothing to prove.” That’s italicized!
Lots more one-sentence paragraphs. Then he says he is telling us about where he came from and who he came from because we are like him. We all come from people and places.
“Our lives are loaded from the beginning with history and drums and love and wounds and tragedy and hope. I’m mysterious enough myself, let alone the ones I come from, let alone all the people I’m constantly encountering with your own hopes and fears and histories and mysteries, let alone this floating ball of rock we call home that’s hurtling through space at 87,000 miles per hour.”
Now that is some paragraph and it gets even more interesting, but you need to read the book.
Things to Remember
This is the kind of book that is free-floating and talks about a lot for things in a sort of order. Here are some items that stood out for me:
“Curiosity is the antidote to despair.” I agree! He says, “Despair is the spiritual disease of believing that tomorrow will simply be a repeat of today.” “Curiosity whispers to you, You’re just getting started…”
“We need forms. But that’s what they are – dust. Dirt. Earth. It’s the breath that gives it life. That gives us life.” “The invitation is to allow sprit to transform all these forms, so the they become everything they can be, guiding us into the fuller experience of the depths of life.”
He has a revelation while talking to Father Jack: “When we take ourselves too seriously it gets in the way of the thing that we are so seriously trying to do.”
He is telling Father Jack all the things he is doing etc.
After a time he stops me
He’s so kind and so firm
And so fierce
He tells me that I have a gift to give, so I should give it. He says that it is a generous gift that we each give to the world, and we should take good care of ourselves. To give a generous gift, we must be generous with ourselves. And to give generously, we must become very good at receiving generously.”
“There is death
At the end of life,
But for you to be here
There was death, lots of it, millions and millions of times over,
At the start of your life.
He then discusses death and how a lot of sperm had to die to make you. That and a bunch of other things had to happen for you to exist. You are a miracle!