Last Friday night at T.N.Tea, I lead a discussion using a NOOMA video. I have read Rob Bell’s name on ‘emerging church‘ websites and in some blogs, but I haven’t read anything by him or know much about him. I did kow that he did these videos, but I hadn’t seen one until April brought it home frm the Christian Book Centre on the salesperson’s recommendation.
The video we viewed is called ‘Bullhorn’. Basically, it’s Rob Bell narrating his encounter of a street preacher who shouts into a bullhorn at passersby about sin, hell, and repent while trying to hand out pamphlets. Bell sits on a bench while talking to the camera, interspersed with flashes of ‘Bullhorn Guy’ getting ready to preach (I don’t imagine that this is the actual guy because I wouldn’t think he would allow himself to be followed around by a camera in a film criticising him). He speaks in a conversational manner that may have been prepared, but gives the impression he is saying all of this off the cuff. It’s not a lecture, but then again Bell isn’t presenting different viewpoints. This is his message. In the background slow but still ‘alternative’ (I guess) music plays.
Bell says what many of us likely think we when pass by someone angrily shouting in a bullhorn with a ‘turn-or-burn’ message. Bell explains what he believes is wrong about the message and the approach. Bell believes Jesus’ primary message is about love and would rather attract people with God’s love rather than preaching wrath and hell. Bell points out that no one seems attracted to Bullhorn Guy’s message, as no one stops to talk to him and no one picks up his leaflets. Bullhorn Guy’s message is fear (he wants to ‘scare the hell’ out them), and likely does more to hurt than help the Kingdom of God.
The video generated good discussion, as no one seemed sympathetic to Bullhorn Guy (a couple of us did say we feel sorry for him – including me!). Unfortunately in the little time we had and the fairly large group size didn’t allow us to go into some of the things we mentioned (in particular, what about the attractiveness of Jesus as Bell mentions against other religions that can be attractive, too).
Judging by the way Bell speaks and the music in the background, this leads me to think that the video is aimed at 16-30 crowd, but my group of mostly over 60 seemed to follow him and enjoyed the video. The video itself was about 12 minutes long – not a bad length. The DVD also came with a booklet of questions, which could have likely been done on two A5 sheets, but the producers jazzed it up with photos from the video. So, the 20 page booklet had 2 questions on a page opposite a quote from the video. I don’t know if that was necessary. The price was £8, which I feel a little too expensive for one video, even if I can use it in other areas. I had hoped it might have 3 or 4 on there.
All-in-all, I recommend if you are looking for a good discussion starter, even if you disagree with Rob Bell. I find videos good because people feel freer to disagree with a distant figure rather than a person talking in front of them.
On a side note, as far as Rob Bell, my blogging friend Nick Norelli at Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, who hasn’t read much Rob Bell, either, has said on his blog that he will review a book by him. Nick isn’t the emerging type, so I will be interested to see what he thinks.