more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.


The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.

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don't talk of love...winning

Don't talk, I will listen.

Don't talk, you keep your distance for I'd rather hear some truth tonight than entertain your lies, so take your poison silently. Let me be. Let me close my eyes.

Don't talk, I'll believe it.

Hundreds of reviews and commentaries have been offered about Rob Bell's book Love Wins. By this time it has become wearisome. So I will not offer another tedious theological treatise. Instead I want to comment on the style of the book. When you get to the end of this entry you will understand why.

The song quoted above is by 10,000 Maniacs. It is 'Don't Talk' and is written from the first person perspective. The young woman is trying to resist being seduced. She entreats the man to keep his distance and implores him not to speak, not to say anything.  

Don't talk. Because if you talk...I may listen. I may begin to believe you. I may fall.

I think that's how many in Christianity think of Rob Bell and his book. Alot of folks, conservative evangelical if there is such a thing, don't like the book. They don't want to rethink things. But they can't help but listen. Many feel that a number of innocents are being seduced. Rob Bell is like the serpent to them. Slithering his way into their thoughts, he plants questions and doubts in their minds. 'Did God really say...'

Others see him as a breath of fresh air giving life to questions suppressed, longing for articulation. He is the gunslinger big enough to come bring justice to this old fashioned saloon town. He is free, uninhibited, and simply asking what many are asking. Except he is better at it. He puts words to their fears. They see Rob as a type of Oliver Twist who is 'smoking what he is selling'. A Christian who really speaks of the kind of love Jesus spoke of long ago.

Rob Bell reminds me of a good trial lawyer. He is like a postmodern Perry Mason. I suppose his dad has impacted him. He thinks like a lawyer. Yet with an artistic flair. Just place the doubt in the mind of the jury, just enough so that they can't make a conviction without having a reasonable doubt. Ask the witnesses alot of questions. Leading questions preferred. Make some rapid fire. Question after question followed by 'is that what we really think?' Remind people of the jury to have an open mind so that they don't wrongfully convict an innocent person. Hang the jury, call it a conversation, make them debate until they can't say anything with certainty. Let them 'wear one another down' with argument. Then pronounce that this conversation, is as innocent as simply filling white pages with words; in fact the conversation in itself is divine.

Rob believes the discussion itself is divine.

So his style is to offer, suggest, never force, some new pathways or possibilities for the mind to wander down. Then let it brew for a while. Let the swirl happen. Let the pot bubble. Stay positive and smile at any questions. Convince yourself that you are like Jesus who was interrogated. Furthermore believe that you are like Jesus, (who was, strangely enough, accused of being of Beelzebub, or the devil) with a thousand questions designed to make people think about their Pharisaical notions. And then be happy with the mess.

Call the resulting chaos divine.

Welcome to the new world.

Where nothing is for sure.

And everything is up for grabs.


This is.

Rob's World.

Get used to it because it isn't going away.

If it troubles you, you might want to dismiss Rob Bell and go into your house of dogmatic surety. You will probably join forces with those who despise Bell for unsettling the apple cart. You will want to return to roots. You will want to 'object' the whole time the lawyer interrogates your faith. These new fangled ideas are dangerous. These lawyers who 'twist' the facts. You may have read the book to help others to avoid Bell's lair. More than likely you had your mind made up going in and really wish Bell 'would keep his distance' and not talk. Especially to your friends and family. Jesus prophetic words, 'I have not come to bring peace but a sword' have come to your house and Rob Bell is the antagonist.

Or, should you choose, you can embrace Rob Bell and talk, talk, talk about it. You are probably of the Starbucks generation. Except you are more earthy, organic and local because there is nothing worse than the corporations and all they stand for. All religions are created equal here. All ideas ought to be given equal consideration. In fact words like equal, fair, just, green, global, and nonjudgmental are in their vocabulary.

Welcome to the new world. And yes, lines are being drawn. Invisible, yet noticeable lines. As for me, I'm staying in the middle. One thing I can say with certainty is Rob Bell is good at what he does. One of the tasks of a pastor is persuasion. Rob is good at that.

He is like a trial lawyer. And depending on which side of the defendant you stand he is either a Godsend or a devil. But in areas of religion and politics isn't that always the case? We seem to always choose sides and declare we are right. But we really aren't all that sure no matter how we posture. God is that unknowable, that mysterious.

In the final analysis I side with sir Paul McCartney, who in his great wisdom sang,

'And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....'

Let it be. I say this because on a personal level during the majority of the period when this ruckus ensued I was on another page. I was late coming to the table on this book because my dad was dying. It lasted for over three weeks. That experience helped me to see that some of these things we count as so important, things like our opinion about Love Wins: a book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who that ever lived ( I mean really how grandiose is that?), are, when push comes to shove, simply not all that important.

Especially when your father is dying. Sometimes we don't choose the options, the options choose us. In real times of trouble, we have faith, we trust, we hope. So set your ipod alarm for tomorrow morning to 'wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary come to me, speaking words of wisdom; let it be.' The fact that you can choose the song you wake to tells me we live in a whole new world. I remember when a ringing bell was the only option. And then the radio could choose. But now we have come so far. We can dial in before we lay our head on the pillow. It will never be the same. We can't go back.

But some things remain. Faith, hope, and love. Faith that God is good, hope that we will be together one day at one table just like it says, and love which in the end, is the greatest gift of all.

One we can give.

So love those around you. They won't be there forever. And perhaps, when we cross over the Jordan we'll be together again. Just a way, down the river, a hundred miles of more. I believe. May love win us over.


 Make love win in your own house. May love win.


Reader Comments (1)

I think you do well to say that opinion of his book, in and of itself isn't all that significant. I also appreciate what you have to say about open mindedness. But we need to be wary as the mind can only be open so far before the rats start coming in and make a mess of things. I've not read the book so for now I too am neutral. However, if what I've heard about the book is true then for the sake of those who are more impressionable, someone needs to speak up against what falsities may lie within. Yet, like I said, you are right at the end of the day much of the discussion is petty. However, some of the theological discussion and the like is of everlasting value; much like love.

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ.R.O.

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