Tag Archives: rob bell

two sentence book reviews, part 3 (leadership/marketing and theology/christian living)

back in the day, i used to post a full review in an individual blog post for every book i read. after rebooting my blog in the late fall of 2009, i changed that practice to posting 3 or 4 “mini reviews” at a time — one paragraph each.

but in 2011, i’ve gotten behind, and haven’t posted any reviews. i kept meaning to, but just didn’t get around to it. so, i’m catching up. and i’ve decided to do it in a different way, since i have 27 to post.


for each review, i only allowed myself two sentences. in each, the first sentence is a summary of the book, and the second sentence is my opinion of the book. i’m still giving 1 – 5 stars (5 means “excellent”, 4 means “worth reading”, 3 means “ah, take it or leave it”, 2 means “take a pass on this one”, and 1 means “do NOT buy or read this book – it sucked, imho).

up first was 7 young adult fiction books, and second was memoirs and graphic novels.

this time, i’m covering leadership/marketing and theology/christian living:


A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin H. Friedman
5 stars
With implications for leadership of every sort (family, church, business), Friedman argues for self-actualized leaders who don’t operate from fear. Every leader has to read this book – I’m going to make it part of my coaching program.

Poke the Box, by Seth Godin
4.5 stars
You’ll never break into new territory in any arena if you’re not willing to push on the assumptions that create the norm. I wish it were longer, but I sure was inspired.

Theory U: Leading From the Future as it Emerges, by Otto Scharmer
5 stars
A deep dive into the (very spiritual) process of organizational change. I’ll be chewing on this insanely difficult read for years, it’s so rich with implications.

theology/christian living

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, by Rob Bell
4 stars
God loves you, and it’s your choice to live in that or not. The hubbub seems overblown to me – this is a book worth thinking about.

Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World (10th Anniversary edition), by Gary Haugen
5 stars
Haugen meticulously unfolds a biblical view of justice, weaving in compelling stories that leave the reader with no option other than engagement. This book should be on the Christian classics shelf alongside Bonhoeffer, Lewis, Nouwen and others.

The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationship, by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley
3.5 stars
An attempt at a biblical defense of committed, same-sex relationships. Not well written, but worth reading, even if only to understand a viewpoint different than your own.


one more set to go, with youth ministry, fiction, and “other”!

citizens of virtue and rob bell’s new book

so, some of you who were at the sacramento nywc got handed a little card from some poeple called “the citizens of virtue.” here’s the dealio: there’s a massive ARG (alternate reality game) that’s been developed around rob bell’s new book, jesus wants to save christians. i’ve seen the framework for the game, and it’s stunning. complex, creative, crazy. there are so many levels and easter eggs and embedded messages and stuff, in a WIDE variety of websites and other places (even in/on the book!).

here’s some info about the whole thing:

The ARG went live last Wednesday, October 8th. The second Virtual Virtue—Patience—went live yesterday. COV virtue volunteers were active at three events last week—NYWC in Sacramento, Catalyst in Atlanta, and the Passion Conference in Vancouver, BC. Nearly 20,000 of the COV business cards were distributed announcing all seven virtues—temperance, patience, chastity, kindness, humility, diligence, and charity.

What is Citizens of Virtue?
The Citizens of Virtue game is an alternate reality game promoting the book Jesus Wants To Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden. The game highlights the battle for the soul of Christianity that is playing itself out on a national stage right now.

What’s an alternate reality game?
An alternate reality game (ARG) is an immersive experience where the entire internet can band together to immerse themselves in a story, solve puzzles, and interact with the real world. ARGs have the unique characteristic of pretending they are real. Part of the fun of an ARG is to figure out what it is and how you interact with it.

The goal of the game is for people to have thoughtful fun, to participate together in the immersive experience to solve the puzzles, to engage with the overall message of JESUS WANTS TO SAVE CHRISTIANS by Rob Bell and Don Golden, and to good in the real world if they choose to. The end of the game takes place when the players free The Seven (held captive by the Citizens of Virtue), bring down the COV organization, and good triumphs over evil.

There’s a couple of ways to get into the game:
1. Send an email to [email protected] and get an automated reply and insight into how you can participate.
2. Visit jesuswantstosavechristians.com and click on Help the Seven
3. Visit citizensofvirtue.com to discover clues embedded in the videos and throughout the home page.

seriously, this thing is nuts.

jesus wants to save christians

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile, by rob bell and don golden.

rob bell’s newest book (his third) is his best one yet, i believe. his main premise is that the bible should be read as the story of exile and reconciliation. and he traces this storyline throughout the narrative arc of scripture. peppered with the storytelling that rob is known for (stories from scripture, stories from jewish midrash, and modern day stories), the book wanders through the old testament – starting with “the first book of the bible: exodus” – and into the new, with more and more implications for “our current exile” as the book progresses. it’s a deeply theological book, but extremely accessible. it’s a “framing” book for followers of jesus, seeking to understand the story of god and how we fit into it. rob doesn’t shy away from taking jabs at the “empire” we live in, the spiritualization of violence and oppression, or the mindset of american christianity. i doubt sarah palin would like this book.

personally, i tire quickly of rob’s single-sentence paragraphs, found in strings on most pages. it’s a neat literary device to use occasionally. but it grows old for me.

but, other than that minor issue (which readers of other rob bell books will certainly recognize – maybe he’s attempting to write in twitter boxes of 140 words or less?), this is a profoundly good book that will certainly impact my thinking from here on out.

here are a few choice sentences that captured my imagination:

jesus wants to save us from making the good news about another world and not this one.

jesus wants to save us from preaching a gospel that is only about individuals and not about the systems that enslave them.

jesus wants to save us from shrinking the gospel down to a transaction about the removal of sin and not about every single particle of creation being reconciled to its maker.

jesus want to save us from religiously sanctioned despair, the kind that doesn’t believe the world can be made better, the kind that either blatently or subtly teaches people to just be quiet and behave and wait for something to happen “someday.”

monday morning update, september 15, 2008

the weekend that was: a few things (all of which were at home, in san diego); but the dominant feature was walktheirwalk, a 12-mile walkathon my family participated in to try to raise money for two clean water wells in twachiyanda, zambia, africa. jeannie got up at 4:20am (she was part of the planning team, and had to work set-up); so she had a pretty good excuse for only doing 9 of the 12 miles. liesl, max and i all did the whole 12 (though max was on his razor scooter for a good portion of it). i know people all over the world walk longer than this on a regular, even daily, basis. but it’s sure more than my body is used to, and it kicked my butt. my feet and hips were killing me that day, my back and shins the next day. saturday afternoon i vegged, watching my beloved university of michigan get beaten by the fighting irish of notre dame. sunday (after a hollow experience of church), was more of the same, as the san diego chargers got seriously robbed (no, really, read about it – two wrong calls that, due to quirks of technology and rules, couldn’t be undone, either of which cost the chargers the game). and, i’m getting another wicked cold. so, yeah — good weekend through the end of the walk, weary and sad weekend since then!

where i am at the moment: in my office. we have a ys staff retreat this afternoon and evening. we’re all a bit worn out and working at 110%, and the craziness of convention season is just beginning. so we’re getting away for the afternoon to remind each other why we do this.

on my to-do list this week: i was supposed to travel to new york on wednesday, then on to a CORE test in the LA area of friday, coming home saturday. but my boss casually mentioned that i should cancel the new york trip, and i instantly knew she was right. so, i’m in the office until friday morning (i still have the 30 hour trip to azusa for the CORE test friday/saturday). i have a presentation to make to the CEO of harper collins (my parent company’s parent company) the following week, so that’s a biggie this week. i also have emergent village work to do, CORE test to prep, a dcla planning meeting, and a wide variety of other stuff. one of the good things about canceling my trip to NYC is that i get to meet my new 6th grade guys small group this wednesday night!

procrastinating about: yeah, the book. i think i was procrastinating about a few boxes that needed unpacking in our bedroom, but they’re done now. i didn’t realize i’d been procrastinating about them until i got to them.

book i’m in the midst of: two right now…
jesus wants to save christians, by rob bell
the almost moon, by alice sebold

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: been diggin’ me some chouchou (seriously, check ’em out. i bought them off amiestreet, the coolest music download site in the world). here’s what chouchou’s website says about them:

Chouchou is a Japanese music group which exists only in SecondLife.
It was formed on July, 2007 searching for new possibilities of music.

next trip: now that i’ve cancelled my nyc trip, i’m only driving up to azusa (a suburb of l.a.) for one night, friday and saturday. but i leave sunday for a 5-day trip to grand rapids and holland (michigan, that is), for a zondervan leadership team retreat, speaking at baker book house in grand rapids (wednesday morning — kind of a late “youth worker appreciation day”; if you’re a youth worker in the grand rapids area, come on out!), and a presentation to the CEO of harpercollins.

how i’m feeling about this week: relieved that i’m not traveling to nyc, but wishing i could shake this new cold.

monday morning update

the weekend that was: ys spanish convention, in mendoza, argentina. i did a super seminar (2 1/2 hours long — which i found out i was doing the night before i flew here!), a general session, and a regular seminar. i did various version of youth ministry 3.0 in each of the settings. the super seminar was on rethinking our assumptions about youth ministry; the general session was on belonging; and the seminar was the closest to the content of the book, on how youth ministry needs to change in light of changes in youth culture. i ate enormous steaks (argentina has this cut of beef called ‘bife de chorizo’ that is the most amazing thing ever to come from a cow) and wonderful malbecs. i spent time with friends i only see once or twice a year. and i enjoyed the beauty of western argentina — i have a stunning panoramic view of the snow-capped andes from my hotel room.

where i am at the moment: still in argentina, but flying to buenos aires this morning. i’ll spend today and tomorrow in BA, visiting our office there, debriefing the convention with lucas (our spanish vp), and shopping for some gifts for my family. i fly home overnight on tuesday.

on my to-do list this week: oof, hard week, once i’m home. we’re in a bit of a financial crunch at ys, and i have three execs from zondervan flying in for all day meetings on thursday (i arrive home wednesday). i’m hopeful about what we can accomplish, but it will be long and challenging. friday is a catch up day, with a bunch of meetings. saturday is walk their walk, the walkathon my family is a part of to try to raise money for clean water wells in zambia.

procrastinating about: i finished the CORE re-writes i had on my plate while in argentina. so now i’m truly back to procrastinating about the middle school ministry book scott rubin and i are supposed to be writing. we got our deadline moved from late august to the beginning of january, but i really have to start carving out time to work on it. wish it could write itself!

book i’m in the midst of: after a few weeks of not reading, i finished phyllis tickle’s amazing book, the great emergence, which comes out in october. i’ll post a review in the next week or two. i’m now reading rob bell’s next book, jesus wants to save christians.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: listened to john legend a lot this past weekend. great music to write and work to. nice grooves.

next trip: i fly to nyc next week for a gathering of business leaders and ministry peeps who want to learn and stategize about the disparity between the educational realities of urban kids and suburban kids. could be interesting.

how i’m feeling about this week: stressed.