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Book Review — ‘What We Talk about When We Talk about God’

For most of your life, you’ve had a good relationship with God.

He’s a close personal friend, in fact, and you talk to Him often. He even lives nearby; so close, that you visit Him often. He’s a good listener, too.

But is the God you know the same God your friend knows? Can the reality of God mesh with science, nature and culture? In the new audiobook “What We Talk about When We Talk about God,” written and read by Rob Bell, you’ll see how we’re at the very edge of a whole new way of answering those questions.

Turn on any news channel or pick up the paper, and it seems like everybody knows what God wants. The thing is, says Bell (a pastor for more than 20 years), “we have a problem with God.” That is, two people who talk about Him are talking about “two extraordinarily different realities while using the exact same word.”

When we talk about God, “we are all over the place.” And yet — people want to talk about Him: what they were taught, what they believe, and what makes them hopeful. Even when in a group of atheists, Bell was asked about the miraculous.

And how can there not be miracles? Bell points at the universe, its size, and how the miracle of you (“a phenomenon that simply didn’t exist here for billions of years”) leads to holism, which leads to God — who defies analysis and description. We talk about God using words, but He goes beyond words.

Still, God is with us. He’s there when we realize we’re seeing something our soul wants us to remember: the big moments, and the small ones. He is for us and wants the best for all of humanity, whether they believe in Him or not, whether we know we need help or not. And He is ahead of us, “pulling us forward” for greater and greater understanding, rights, and peace.

Talking about God, says Bell, isn’t so much about the words said, as it is about being open in heart and mind while you’re saying them. It’s about recognizing that spiritual life isn’t separate from regular life. It’s about knowing that “we are loved and we belong and we are going to be just fine.”

Written and read by author and pastor Rob Bell, “What We Talk about When We Talk about God” is packed with grace and goodness. There’s also a lot of thought provoking here, which is why I enjoyed this audiobook so much.

In meshing evolution and science with Bible teachings and atheism with Christianity and surfing, Bell brings God to modern readers. Along the way, he questions his own faith and uses anecdotes from friends and family to illustrate God in his life.

That adds up to what will be the best, most helpful sermon you’ve ever heard, in an audiobook you’ll want to share. I think, in fact, that “What We Talk about When We Talk about God” is definitely something you’ll shout about.

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“What We Talk about When We Talk about God” by Rob Bell, read by the author

c.2013, HarperAudio $14.99 / $16.99 Canada 4-1/2 hours, 4 CDs

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