Last night my husband and I went to hear the author and pastor Rob Bell speak at the Pageant Theater in St. Louis on his “Everything is Spiritual” tour. He spoke for a good two hours without pause about the trajectory of the world as we know it.
What I appreciate about Rob Bell is that he has a passion for Jesus without discounting any scientific truths. I’m not talking about mixing Christianity with Scientology. I’m talking about… how “Everything is Spiritual.” It’s difficult for some to find faith in a world that is reduced to scientific formulas, and it’s difficult for some people of faith to accept scientific facts when they seem to come into conflict with doctrine or established beliefs. I think it’s incredibly beautiful when a person of faith can see God’s hand in creation as it is known and understood today, “under the microscope” so to speak. I understand this summary will probably sound esoteric if you haven’t read or listened to much of Rob Bell since this particular sermon was infused with a great deal of scientific research, but this was my take-away in a nutshell for what it’s worth. Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, so my explanation is plebeian at best.
Last night, Bell gave a brilliantly articulate and engaging talk about the universe expanding and bonding together, and how we are made of stars and dirt and the same old atoms, billions of years old. I am kind of a biology nerd, so I loved hearing about this stuff. I’m also crazy interested in what God is doing in the grand scheme of things beyond just our human scope of experience, and this talk spoke directly to that question on a universal level.
One of the things Bell said that struck me most was that dark matter (unknown material) makes up 96% of the universe. Basically, our universe is mostly made up of mysteries. Scientists say that over time, these elements of life that we don’t understand become known, and become biological, meaningful matter. The dark matter gives life and becomes part of the story. I don’t completely understand how this works, but am taking it at face value for its spiritual merits, because I think it’s a beautiful illustration.
Bell spoke to how intensely we are connected and drawn together as people. He mentioned the studies that have been conducted about how atoms can be split and when one particle from that atom is altered to change its rotation in New York, the other particle from the same atom that is in Los Angeles changes its rotation as well. This is a physics mystery I seriously cannot wrap my mind around but am moved by what it means about how we are all connected because Guess What? We are all made of atoms too.
Another study he quoted found that countries in which the gap between rich and poor was smaller are healthier, both mentally and physically. Countries in which the gap between rich and poor is very small have longer lifespans. And alternately, countries in which the gap between rich and poor is very great have more health problems and shorter life spans. How can it be possible that we are so interconnected? Yet it is so. We need to take care of each other.
Rob Bell said that we can only follow the universe’s trend of expansion (a trend that can be interpreted as holy and ordered by God) if we allow ourselves to come together and open up to change, pain, and heartache; to open ourselves to the mysterious dark matter on our doorsteps and allow it to bring new life into our hearts. Even when it means suffering and grappling with pain or concepts you can’t comprehend. He spoke about how coming together to share our trials with one another can give birth to new life, new understanding, new hope. He said this coming together is love and that is what God must be about.
His talk made me think of babies and interracial marriage. It made me think of philanthropy, grassroots ministry, Shane Claiborne and urban revitalization. It made me think of heartache and loss and how if I could find another soul that knew the trouble I’ve seen, maybe our sorrows would turn into doves and fly up into the sky. It made me want to become a psychologist, or at least a better person; to serve, love, give and care for my fellow human beings, no matter what choices they’ve made, no matter the color of their skin; an unconditional giving that makes the world a better place for both the giver and the receiver.
I feel blessed to have been given this new imagery of God and have found hope in the idea that the world’s “dark matter” mysteries will one day be full of life. May you be full of life today and always!
P.S. I did get to meet Rob Bell. Photo coming soon.
Bonus P.S. This is my 100th post on Parchment Cadenza! Hurray for blogging!
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