Rob Bell vs. Joel Osteen

Jesus Wants to Save Christians

Religion in the United States has seemingly never been more polarizing. Christians have gotten a bad rap and in some ways it is deserved.

There are some big personalities speaking for Christians in America. Joel Osteen. Rick Warren. Pat Robertson. Glenn Beck? It’s just like different versions of the same voice.

There’s one voice that I wish was speaking a little louder.

Rob Bell.

From the Mars Hill site:

Rob Bell is the Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

He is the author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God, and is a coauthor of Jesus Wants to Save Christians. He is also featured in the first series of spiritual short films called NOOMA.

I was introduced to Rob Bell through his NOOMA videos and I’ve been listening to him since. Velvet Elvis is one of the best books on Christianity that I’ve read, not because it is cool, but because it is true.

He puts scripture into context (and man, is he ever versed in scripture), he uses wonderful analogies to make points and he challenges his audience to think critically about their faith. I like that.

This week, I listened to the audiobook Jesus Wants to Save Christians, the terrific book he wrote with his friend Don Golden. How can you go wrong with chapters named “Swollen Bellied Black Babies” and “There’s Blood on the Doorposts of the Universe”?

Bell is a voice of Christianity that is tolerant and aware, but also extremely well-versed. He uses scripture in a relevant way that puts it into the context of the age in which it was written to help us understand it and apply it today. Some of the voices I listed at the beginning of this post can be a bit extreme and some of the best intentions can get lost and they can drown out people like Rob, who really need to be heard.

Why is this news?

This garbage about Barney, the Bush’s dog, biting the Reuters reporter is ALL OVER THE NEWS, even trumping stuff like, you know…THE STOCK MARKET DROPPING OVER 900 POINTS IN TWO DAYS.

Now that the presidential election is over, these “journalists” don’t have a clue what to talk about so they are covering this story about a DOG WHO BIT A GUY. You know…this sort of thing only happens 4.7 million times each year.

Hey, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News…I’ve got a story for you…the President’s cat is stuck in a tree.

GASP.

President Obama

 

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

– President-Elect Barack Obama

Even going into last night, I had concerns. Would the alleged “Bradley effect” rear its head? Were the pollsters completely wrong?

They were not.

I believe that Barack Obama has the potential to be one of the great presidents of American history. The way in which he has energized the nation with his message of hope is nothing short of amazing. On an historic night, he was gracious, inspiring and firm…giving a speech to 125,000+ onlookers in Grant Park in Chicago and showing that hope always trumps fear.

I watched that speech with tears in my eyes. This is something that people will remember for a very long time. We’ll tell future generations about watching this election and I feel blessed to be a part of it.

I am looking forward to the next few months as President-Elect Obama puts together his transition team – a team that he has stated will be bi-partisan and contain very few hold-overs (most believe that one of the only hold-overs will be Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense). Whomever he brings in, the administration has many challenges ahead, the first of which is carrying the energy and inspiration of the campaign into true action as well as reaching out to those who were strong McCain supporters.

Either way, it’s an exciting time.

One for Obama

Alli and I got up early this morning (and by early, I’m talking like pre-6:00 am) to walk down the street to our polling location and get in line to vote. As we walked back, Alli said, “Getting up early and walking to the polls made me feel like I was doing something important.” And she’s totally right.

It’s an important thing that we did at 6:15 this morning…to cast our votes in a general election. This is what makes democracy great…we have a say in who our leaders are. Sure, it’s anything but a perfect process. But there’s a process and it’s better than most.

Regardless of who you support (I support Barack Obama and you should too), it’s important for your voice to be heard, even if you live in a state like Kansas that has voted for a Republican for like…FOREVER.

Go vote.

It’s Not Over Yet

The latest Gallup poll has Obama up 11 points over John McCain. Many pundits are saying that now that he’s broken the 50% mark, that it’s all but a done deal…our next president has been chosen. The trend of the line certainly can’t be encouraging to the Palin-McCain campaign, who has amped up their rhetoric in tying Barack Obama to 60’s era domestic terrorist William Ayers.

The interesting thing about this character-questioning approach is that it started before the debate on Tuesday (which was overwhelmingly called for Obama, despite being John McCain’s choice of venue), yet McCain didn’t mention it once in the Town Hall Meeting. This is surprising since it’s all we are hearing from the Palin-McCain stump.

Despite McCain’s claims that he would run a respectful, clean campaign, those around him felt a different approach would be more successful. The bottom line is that on issues, the Palin-McCain ticket is getting crushed. It may be somewhat unfair to attribute the financial meltdown to solely John McCain, but the Republican principles of deregulation have certainly contributed to the mess we are in. Now, you could certainly place blame on the other end of the spectrum, to Congressional Democrats who leaned on financial institutions to write riskier loans and mortgages so more people could afford houses. It’s nice in principle, but with the pop of the housing bubble, that turned out to be a pretty bad practice.

Barack Obama for PresidentUltimately, one major reason that I’m voting for Barack Obama is that now that both campaigns have “gone negative”, the stark difference is that while the Palin-McCain campaign relies on merely asking questions and lobbing accusations, Obama’s ads show the stark contrasts in policy, not merely relying on sunny music over the approval of message, but an actual political pitch.

The reason I am not certain this election is just over yet (although FiveThirtyEight.com has Obama winning almost 350 Electoral College votes), is that I’m not convinced we’ve seen the Palin-McCain campaign go nuclear. I’m not sure what that might involve, but I’m hoping it doesn’t happen – not because I’m convinced that it will work, but because I believe that John McCain is an honorable man and I’d like to see the country come together after this election, rather than being unbelievably divided. Only 25 days left.