Awe and Wonder

Everything is Spiritual book cover

While I would not exactly call myself a spiritual person today, I have been one most of my life. As a teenager in high school I was an altar boy in my local Catholic parish. As an adult I was an active practicing Christian Scientist, even working for the world headquarters in Boston for six years. Today, I am neither a Catholic nor a Christian Scientist. While I do not consider myself an atheist, I do not believe in a supernatural, personal god.

Recently, my sister started reading Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell. She texted me to say that it reminded her a lot of me. Because I respect my sister deeply, I decided to read this book. And I must say that Rob Bell in this book really resonates with me. I had already read Love Wins while still an active church member. I loved its message that love trumps judgement. In fact, the certainty that pervades so much of religion is why I ultimately left it. In Everything is Spiritual, Bell gives his own history as a pastor and the evolution of his own thoughts on religion and God.

I think that most Christians would not consider the author one of them. In fact, he only refers to himself as a member of the Jesus movement, never as a Christian. He finds wonder and awe in science and evolution. He is more interested in questions than answers. And he looks for connection, finding inspiration in the natural, physical world. In all these ways, I am on board with Bell. But he ultimately relates them to God. And there we may part ways.

I say “may” because it is never clear from this text whether he believes in a personal, supernatural god. He may not. If so, we may share more than I think. I have always felt that people use the word “God” as a placeholder for the awe and majesty of life and relationships and that when religion codifies this, it ruins the whole process.

In this book Bell shares his own journey of spirit. To me he feels like someone I might have shared at least some of the same road with. And if you feel the awe and majesty of life, yet feel like religion tends to mess this up, this book might resonate with you too.