Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Review: Drops Like Stars

Rob Bell has released yet another book to be accompanied by a teaching tour. This time it called Drops Like Stars.

This is not your typical book. First of all it is oversized to more of the style of nice coffee table book (ala Great Landscapes of the Southwest, or some such) and it is LOADED with pictures. Frankly formatting alone of the text, images and the printed package itself is enough to make the book worth buying.

Oh, but the content! Bell takes the reader through a multi-media odyssey through the nature, cultural aversion, and spiritual significance of suffering. Bell is on his game with typical ADD-friendly short sentences and paragraphs that help you follow the gist while inspiring you to reflect on what has been said.

The subtitle of the book is "A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering" and it is through that art metaphor that Bell leads the reader to find (perhaps allow) beauty to express itself in the midst, in spite, and alongside suffering. Through suffering we learn the arts of disruption, honesty, ache, solidarity, elimination and failure by which God brings about works of art in human beings.

What is most impressive about the book is that Bell deals with the problem of evil without ever raising or answering the "why?" question. He points out that is in fact a given in life without colluding with evil and suffering as some sort of hidden goodness if only we knew what God knew, and demonstrates the need for people to allow suffering to shape them in godliness. That's what gives this book real value for mentors, pastors, and leaders. It gives dignity to suffering without clumisily driving toward some pat-answer to suffering. It can be read in an hour and a half or so and, yes, is full of pictures and short sentences making it quite friendly to those who do not consider themselves "readers." It makes a great table-top book to spark either discussion or to give a quick inspirational read to someone waiting in your living room or office.

May we all see drops like stars.