Chiming in on Rob Bell’s LOVE WINS

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LivedOnce in a while a book comes along that gets people all riled up, bringing forth either enthusiastic praise or vehement wrath. Such a book is LOVE WINS: A BOOK ABOUT HEAVEN, HELL, AND THE FATE OF EVERY PERSON WHO EVER LIVED by Rob Bell. Check out the 563 customer reviews at Amazon to get a flavor of the furor.

Bell is the founding pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He bears a respectable educational pedigree from Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary. So what has he done to cause such a stir? The buzz claimed “Rob Bell says there is no hell.”

To many outside the church such a belief solicits a “So what, who cares?” response. But to the thousands of believers who define their faith on the tenet of eternal damnation unless one makes a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ, them is fightin’ words.

I decided I needed to read the book and judge for myself. This was my first exposure to Bell, who is surely an engaging speaker. The style of the book reads like an interesting sermon series. It begs to be read aloud. The placement of words on the page is often poetical.

For emphasis.

Rather than a pedantic expression of his opinions, Bell asks a lot of questions about the basic beliefs of scores of Protestant churches. He is logical—and disturbing. If God is an “all loving Father,” then how can he cast his children into everlasting fire? Hmmm.

For Bell, the question isn’t so much about what happens “over there,” but what is happening “here.” Is there a hell? Open the newspaper, read about the wars, famine, mass executions in Mexico, the domestic violence, sexual slavery. Hell? Why sure.  It is here and now.

The real question is how to bring forth “Your Will on Earth as it is in Heaven” as envisioned in the Lord’s Prayer. Bell’s answer is coming into relationship with the living Christ. The expansive, can’t-be-contained or-totally-understood Messenger of the Good News.

Bell speaks to the disenfranchised, the people turned off by the fire and brimstone message. He breaks down the dogmatic walls. For those comfortably dwelling within those walls, he is a heretic. For those outside the walls, he offers hope.

“Tattoos on the Heart,” My Favorite Book

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

Taylor email 03 Review by Dana Taylor

“His ways are not our ways…but they sure could be.” 

Tattoos on the Heart author Gregory Boyle, aka Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries and long-time priest of the Delores Mission in Los Angeles, aka “G-dog”, sums up his approach to life in that simple, but profound, phrase. Father Boyle has been honored with numerous awards, including the California Peace Prize, and even brought gang members to dinner at the White House. A bout of leukemia prompted him to finally write a book inspired by his twenty-five years ministering at the ground zero of gangland—Boyle Heights of Los Angeles. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion is my new favorite book and it will take something pretty special to bump it off the top of my list.

It hit me on so many levels.  First, the writing style—there’s a dose of barrio homeboy vernacular to make it real.  A homegirl acting as receptionist answers a bomb threat with “Go ahead and bring that bomb, motherfucka. We’re ready for your ass.” (Christian publishers passed on the book because of those moments.) Then, in the next paragraph Boyle might quote Thomas Merton or a Catholic saint.  He uses so many different colors to paint the palette of his book.

Next, the content is the stuff of inspiring sermons—spiritual lessons couched in anecdotal stories of the homies. Rather than writing a chronological autobiography G (as he most often is called) offers chapters that focus on the gifts of the spirit—Grace, Compassion, Gladness, Kinship. He makes the barrio come alive through the eyes of man who sees the value in people who can’t see the value in themselves. This isn’t a Disney-like portrayal of the happy mean streets. His heart has been broken by the 167 times he’s buried the homeboys because of senseless violence.

 Yet, there is hope because he knows who the Savior is.  He sees Him in every scary, tattooed ex-con who comes through the doors of Homeboy Industries. G knows the Boundless Compassion of God and does his best to pay it forward.

Father Boyle lives among the angry, the marginalized, the under-educated throwaways of society and shows them God’s love. Indeed, his ways are not our ways…but they sure could be.

If you read it, Tattoos might turn into your favorite book also.

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

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Ever-Flowing Streams: Christ, Reiki, Reincarnation & Me

   “A book not just to read, but to experience”–Tampa Bay Examiner

Available as ebook and paperback at Amazon