Michael Rollwagen holds a Masters of Divinity and has thirty years experience as a pastor and teacher. He strives to forget most of that, though, and concentrate on helping people. He writes a weekly blog, More Undignified, and runs a faith-based non-profit, WordWalk, in Pensacola, Florida.
One must be warned before reading Rob Bell’s books. A lot of card-carrying evangelical types despise this guy. That makes me want to read them again, even though I am one of those evangelical types. My initial encounter with Velvet Elvis was at Christmas a couple of years ago. My daughter gave me a copy of the book and I replied with little sensitivity, “Why the hell do I need a book about Elvis?!” She smiled indeference and encouraged me to read it.
I am presently reading it again, for the fifth time. I am also taking notes … again. Most Christians struggle with a faith that they are not willing to doubt for fear of divine retribution. They also deal with a system of traditions that fail to square with reality.
Rob Bell ignites the discussion about these issues and more in an innovative and intriguing way. He also uses digital media in his explorations: CD vignettes, podcasts, and video whiteboard discourses. His incorporation of art is obvious: the layout of his books (I have Velvet Elvis inhardback and paper), is stimulating. The footnotes are even provocative. Bell has written other books, and they all explore artistic representations of their content. I especially recommend Sex God and Drops Like Stars, which explores the need for an artistic frame of mind in church life and theological matters.