The Way we Change is to Experience a Disruption. Interview with Rob Bell.

surfing

Ktizo is Greek meaning ‘to form, shape, completely change or transform’ “with the creativity of God being the epitome of these actions that inspire us to do the same.” So says Ktizo Magazine, which did a recent interview with Rob Bell. You can download the issue and read the full interview here.

Ktizo: You love to incorporate art of all varieties with your ministries. How have you come to understand the creative approach as something that works so well?

Rob Bell: What’s interesting is in the rabbinical tradition, a sacred text is like a jewel. It’s like a precious stone and when you turn it the light refracts in different ways. The way that you think about the divine is that the divine is spoken and the rest is commentary. So we’re exploring. It was never like there is a finite endpoint, if you just get there then you’re right. It’s always about the hunt, the struggle, the doubt, the sweat, the stretching.

I would say a lot of what passes for Western religious systems nowadays are actually belief affirmation systems- I come, I tithe, I give some money, I vote the right way, I show up at the right time to keep the attendance up, and then you tell me what I already believe. So if we get some wing nut in here who tells us something slightly different we have to expunge them from the system because the system works in a particular way. but the actual way that we change is we experience a disruption. We hear something that grabs us and we can’t go on in the same way.

So it’s actually a disruption, and that’s the power of art.

Ktizo: We heard that surfing is a big part of your life now and probably therapeutic in a sense, too. How is getting up on the waves influencing you?

Rob Bell: Where else are you carried across the Earth’s surface by an orbital pattern of energy moving at a speed you can actually manage to keep up with long enough for it to catch you and then you’re floating along on pure grace? It’s…it’s…there just aren’t words. If I talk any more I’ve ruined it. As the Hebrews would say there’s a Selah* right here.

* rough translations of Selah are mine: “to pause and think” or “to stop and listen”

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Creativity Series: “The Active Creator” by Sam Mahlstadt

wfuth-mahlstadt

I am more writer than theologian, but neither by trade. However, as the concepts I learned during my education in the written word and my my experiences in the local church mingle, I’ve realized something quite alarming.

In writing, there is a great temptor and persistent foe called the passive voice. When a writer slips into passive voice, the subject of the writing is subjected to certain actions, as opposed to the subject of said writing taking action. The cat was chased by the dog, as opposed to, the dog chased the cat.

In passive voice, our characters are at the will of the world aroung them. In active voice, however, our characters are influencing and creating their own destiny. Unless you’re writing dialogue for Yoda, passive voice is to be avoided. Correct, that advice is.

What’s worse than passive voice, though, is passive living.

I’ve notived a tendency among comfortable Christians to be lulled into passive lives. When you are living a passive life, you cannot view yourself as a co-creator with God. It is impossible to create, actively, when you are reacting to life as it happens.

If we are to break out of our passive lives and join God in the renewal of all things, we must reframe our role. We must reclaim our place as co-creators. In Genesis, we see God create man and woman, and command them to take part in creation. One translation says that God told the man and woman to dress the garden. After the fall, however, we see the man and woman literally dressing themselves with the garden. It’s a shift from active to passive. And the implications of the fall, the transition from active to passive life, are felt in our lives everyday.

But the story doesn’t end with the man and woman standing in the East of the garden. Through the restorative work of Jesus, we can reclaim our place as co-creators. We can join God’s work of renewal. We can point to the Kingdom that is breaking forth into our world, by actively joining God in his work.

I’m not much of a writer or a theologian, but this I know: Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I can be co-creators with Elohim, the creative spirit that spoke our existence into being. You and I can shape eternity.


Sam Mahlstadt is compelled by the written word and the story of the Gospel. He writes at creativetheology.com, and recently released his first book, Creative Theology.

Learn more about the “With Flames Upon Their Head” Creativity Series by clicking here.

The Changing Image of our Thoughts and Introducing this Week’s Creatives

Download episodes or Subscribe to the Podcast on Itunes by clicking here.

You might notice I’ve changed the images for the series. I began with a spider preparing to weave her web by making that first jump. I’ve since changed this and I want to tell you why. The spider metaphor is inspired by the Brazilian philosopher, Rubem Alves’ The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet:

The spider: a metaphor of myself; I also want to weave a web over the void. But my world is not woven with anything material. It is made out of a substance more ethereal than gossamer thread, so ethereal that some have compared it to the winds: words. The human word is made with words. ‘In the beginning, the Word…’ And, like the spider’s thread, words come also from within our bodies. Words are transformed flesh. I wonder if Nietzsche was not watching a spider when he said that ‘man is a rope over an abyss.’

The first word: a leap into the void, a leap out from the void…

But the spider is luckier than we are: she already has the recipe for such a portentous event: it was given to her by birth. her body knows, her body remembers. but we have forgotten it. We do not know…As Eliot put it, we know ‘words’ but we are ignorant of ‘the Word.’

Since reading the submissions from the 13 Creatives (and you brave Creatives who shared with me your own posts struggling with these same questions), my thoughts and feelings about creativity changed from being positioned on firm ground—while preparing to make that first leap into the void—to beginning from the void and the chaos with nowhere to stand.

The image places the Creative into the middle of the Tarantula Nebula, one of the “largest, most violent star forming regions known” in this stretch of the sky.

Where we create rarely begins on solid ground. We start inside the chaos and violence and we strive to create something which shines for everyone to see. It is here, in the forming gas and explosions, we too are formed.


Monday will feature the poet Dyana Herron with her post “I Thought I Saw It.”

Dyana Herron is a writer and editor originally from Tennessee. She now lives with her husband in Philadelphia. You can visit her at dyanaherron.com.


Then on Tuesday, the author and worship pastor Tyler Braun shares, “The Blinking Cursor and My Rising Pulse.”

Tyler’s first book Why Holiness Matters releases in August. Those who comment on his post will be entered into a drawing out of a hat (by my wife) to win a copy of his book.

Tyler Braun is a 27-year-old INTJ living in Portland, Oregon with his wife Rose. He works full time as a worship leader, while also finding time to study at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in pursuit of a masters degree. Tyler’s first book releases in August of this year through Moody Publishers and is available for pre-order now. You can find Tyler on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse — Part 3

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Part 3: Post-Abuse Recovery

Chapter 17: How to Escape a Spiritual Trap

• It’s easy to get into a spiritually abusive system, but it’s very hard to get out. The further we move away from normal the more trapped we are in our thinking. We can become delusional about the situation and at some point even addicted to religion.

Chapter 18: Renewing the Mind & Chapter 19: Recovering the Right Focus

• To begin seeing the abusive system clearly and not through the unhealthy lens that the abusive system wants you to look through you must return to the true gospel, not the performance gospel an abusive system can preach, but a gospel where there is freedom in Christ, where there is rest and hope and love.

Chapter 20: One Response: Flight

• Here are some questions the authors ask when thinking about whether or not to leave or to stay: Does grace really have a chance? Are you supporting what you hate? Do you need to be right? Can you stay, and stay healthy, both at the same time? Can you decide your own limits and stick with them? Do you believe God cares more about the church than you do? Is it possible the system might need to die? Are you trying to help the system even though you are exhausted? Are you able to listen to the voice of sanity? Do you really know where to sow? If you came today for the first time, knowing what you know now about the system, would you stay?

Chapter 19: One Response: Fight

• The authors give some helpful advice for those who choose to fight the spiritually abusive system. Decide whom you serve, whether Christ or yourself. Be ready for resistance. Keep telling the truth. Know who your enemy is. Satan is the enemy, our battle is not against flesh and blood. Hang on to the Shepherd. Know how a healthy spiritual system functions. 

The book ends with a message to perpetrators of spiritual abuse.

An interview with one of the authors here.

Another review here.