“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.

The speech, in its entirety. I’d venture to say that most of us have never heard the whole thing. It’s one thing to read Dr. King; it’s quite another to encounter the courage and love infused in his voice.

One fascinating detail: King’s riff on the “dream” was not planned, but may have been prompted by the singer Mahalia Jackson, who called out: “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin! Tell ’em about the dream!”

We’re these strange, exotic cocktails of dust and quarks and blood and soul and all that can’t be named, containing infinite depth and dimension and spirit, featherless bipeds arguing and dividing ourselves up about all sorts of things that are, in the end, completely meaningless.

My final quote from Rob Bell’s book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. It has been a splendid, satisfying read — as delightful as the description above.

Events and environments act on us, and the more we are experiencing God bringing together all the dimensions of our lives, the more we’ll be aware of the powerful effect our surroundings and interactions are having on us.

One quick example involving architecture: You are a phototropic being, drawn to light, for a number of biological and physiological reasons. But you also have legs that get tired if you have to stand for too long. So when you enter a room, you are drawn to the window, but you are also drawn to the chairs. You want light, and you also want to sit down. Which is all fine, unless the chairs are not arranged in front of the window. When that happens, the room draws you to two places at the same time. This creates tension in your being, very real forces within you that are unresolved.

Now think about those contending forces on a larger scale. As modern consciousness built a head of steam over the past few hundred years, very real dynamics such as these were often pushed to the side, because people saw the universe as more and more of a machine, engineered to be productive and efficient. Design and aesthetics and how things look and feel were often relegated to lesser status, rendered irrelevant because they were seen as having very little to do with what can be empirically measured and demonstrated, like profit and cost and productivity and efficiency.

But we are integrated beings, and aesthetics matter. The Bible itself begins with God taking great joy in how things look. Color and layout and feel and landscape and furniture arrangement and shape and form and line and curve all matter, because they affect us in powerful and sublime ways.

Rob Bell, obviously. This goes out to our architecture buddies, Ant and Lai Jing.

At this very moment there is a great deal of energy being spent by nations around the world to make sure that certain other nations do not get the capability to use nuclear weapons. The nation that is leading this charge is the United States, which has enough nuclear weapons to blow the world up several times and that, contrary to all other nations, has actually used nuclear weapons in the past, killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The United States has around 6 percent of the world’s population and possesses a little less than half of the world’s weapons. If there were a group of one hundred people, and six of them had half the guns—well, we would have a serious problem.

We need help.

To read the Bible, then, as a book about those primitive people who had made a mess of things and how God was calling them forward and miss the glaring fact that it’s also a book about us and our desperate need to be rescued and helped and brought forward into a better future is an epic, historic case of seeing the splinter in someone else’s eye and not the log in our own.

Rob Bell in What We Talk About When We Talk About God.

No wonder people don’t like this guy.

For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren’t opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it’s alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren’t opposites; they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners.

Rob Bell (again) in his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. Clearly, I am enjoying this.