Getting Real About Reality in Real Time, Really (Rob Bell's Latest Meditation on Realism)


by Aaron Alford

An exclusive excerpt (including footnotes!) from Rob Bell's groundbreaking new book Oingo Boingo: Rediscovering Realness In Authentic Realitude:

I was counseling a man and woman the other day. He was very angry. And upset. And she was too.




I looked at the man. He was so upset because he was quite displeased with the whole situation. And that reminded me of Jesus. “Jesus” is this man, who is also God, who is talked about in the Christian holy writings called “The Bible.” In this “Bible,” there are many “stories” about Jesus in things called “gospels.” Anyhoo, one day “Jesus” became “upset.”

So upset that he turned over tables.

Tables people changed money at.

Tables where people had times at.

Tables. Times.

Often we do math. Using times tables. The word “times tables” appears approximately 37 times in the Bible. In the Greek, it is made up of two words. “Blek” meaning “times” and “plethunos” meaning “tables.” Times Tables.




How often do we unnecessarily multiply our anger? Our upsettness? Our flustration?

“He is making me angry.”

“She's being dumb.”

“See Dick jump.”

And so on.

You may be becomening upset right now. Upset that I make up words. Upset that some of my sentences are incomplete thoughts, containing no verbs whatsoever. What. Soever. Upset that I start too many sentences with “and.” And upset that I start too many sentences with “but.”

But there's something else. Something deeper. Going on here.

I told the man and the woman, who were still mad, this stuff about times tables and anger and other things and whatnot. They blankly stared at me. And do you know what? Their angerness was gone.

It was replaced with something else. Something blanker.

Because this is really about that.

Moby Dick is really about a whale.

Green Eggs and Ham is really about the Cat in the Hat.[1]

And Scatman Crothers[2] was the black dude in The Shining.

But we're all shining, aren't we?

Shining with realitude.[3]

[1]These are books by an incredible author named Dr. Seuss. Go buy everything he's ever written and read them right now.

[2]The Shining is this movie where this writer dude totally goes crazy and says “here's Johnny” and stuff. Have you seen it? Why do you think I referenced it here? How does that make you feel?

[3]You probably thought you were finished reading. Well you're not! I can keep these footnotes going just as long as I want, baby! And people will read them! Yeah! In your face, Miller! Who's emergent now??? WOOO!!!!


ny guy | 11:47 pm on 5/22/2008

I got a chuckle out of this. I love Rob Bell's real stuff and this is a really funny parody of it. You really captured his intense ADD.

JoshH | 07:12 am on 5/23/2008

It's not just that; it's also the "rhythm" with which he speaks/writes. It starts. It goes on.

Then it stops.

As a devout semicolon-using lover of pauses and footnotes and parentheses (as anyone who knows me would know),* it feels good to read the writing of someone who thinks the way I do. It's the hypertext of the internet brought to the printed page.

*There are a few people from here that I've gotten to know online, as well as people who I know who I've managed to get interested in this site.

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ron | 08:03 am on 5/23/2008

linear add.

Rudi | 04:42 pm on 5/28/2008

Well done- the Nooma Genre is begging to be parodied. Here's a video parody that my friends and I made.

Please do enjoy:

marie | 11:24 am on 4/05/2011

I find meditation a great way to relax. It's absolutely fantastic for your health.

Anonymous | 01:32 am on 5/23/2008

I dont get it?

ny guy | 05:58 am on 5/23/2008

the format to some extent is similar to the way that Rob Bell's books are organized

SRebbe | 11:06 am on 5/23/2008

and doormice notes

JoshH | 11:46 am on 5/26/2008

I think you mean "dormice."

And by the way...
Remember what the dormouse said:
"Feed your head!"

SRebbe | 04:55 pm on 5/29/2008

thought that was the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.

Anonymous | 03:37 am on 5/23/2008

Keep rockin' the bong brother!

Aaron B | 01:22 pm on 5/23/2008

Nice work man.

I wish my English teachers would have told me I could make up my own rules of style, write with stream of consciousness and be a best-selling author. I like Rob's spirit and the thoughtfulness he brings to the Christian "community" but he definitely deserves to be parodied.

that calvinist doug | 01:49 pm on 5/23/2008

Man. That was. Funny?

Mad angerness so easily flows fluidly into bitterness. And who wants bitter? Unless it's black. Coffee.

NathanA | 02:15 pm on 5/23/2008

About time someone made fun of Rob Bell. I'd like to take this opportunity like to briefly rant.
I dislike that Bell sometimes appears to be saying something different just so he can. His content certainly isn't any better because its dressed up in some hip stylised package. I question whether Bell's teaching is really always intended to benefit other people, or if he is just trying to say something to draw attention to himself.

i.e. Bell says that when Peter sunk walking on water towards Jesus, it was because he lost faith in himself. I think that is a destructive slope to lead people towards. How many drug addicts has Bell helped telling them to trust in themselves? I've appreciated some of the other things Bell has said, but this kind of thing really rubs me the wrong way.

budda | 12:06 am on 5/24/2008

Well Nathan, you can always go back to Oral Roberts, Charles Stanley, Robert Shuler or whoever floats your boat. Rob Bell is about the only one left that I can listen to. Of course I like thinking that I'm hipper and more intellectual than everyone else too. Excuse me while I TiVo John Stewart's Daily Show so I can listen to Ira Glass on This American Life now.

Dorsey | 06:43 am on 5/28/2008

As someone familiar with addiction, I can tell you that the 'trust in yourself' message is often vital to breaking habits. I'm not sure why you think it's a destructive slope. If you're an addict, you're already pretty sure you can trust Jesus not to shoot up. You need confidence in your own ability to resist.

As far as trying to call attention to himself... thousands of preachers do that every Sunday. Millions more do it every day, commenting on other people's websites.

Stephanie | 08:38 am on 5/15/2009

Being a recovered addict..that rings very true with myself..bwahahahahahaaaaaa

Droslovinia | 02:26 pm on 5/23/2008

Thanks for that. I rarely laugh any of my body parts off on these articles. I smile sometimes. And chuckle. But not laugh. Laughing is good.

Jesus laughed. And he cried. You can look that up.

SRebbe | 04:56 pm on 5/29/2008

John 11:39

Brucesquatch | 02:57 pm on 5/23/2008

Poking a little fun at Rob Bell is an honor for him! You haven't really arrived.

Started a church.

Written and published a book.

Become famous.

Until the boys at The Door have their way with you. Sounds kinda creepy that way, don't it?

JoshH | 03:52 pm on 5/23/2008

FYI: he's been interviewed by the Door.
Scroll down on the front page and you'll find it. I'm too lazy to look for the URL. I know...acedia's a terrible mortal sin, but oh, well.

missa | 10:22 pm on 5/23/2008

How come fiction writers get shot down for making up their own grammar rules but 'emergent' preachers can make up whatever grammar they want? It's a conspiracy I tell you! I think I shall go write a few pages of my story in Rob Bell format. But then I might have to throw my computer out the window in a fit of rage.

missa | 10:24 pm on 5/23/2008

I just had another random thought about Bell's grammar which must be pointed out. If he used normal formatting, his books would probably only be about 3/4 the size they are. They'd probably be only half the size if he used normal grammar AND normal formatting. Think of all the trees he could save!

ny guy | 12:55 am on 5/24/2008

think of all of the loggers that would be out of work. They have families you know, ever see that show Ax Men? Its actually pretty good. They should thank Robb For all of the extra work.

Anonymous | 06:31 am on 5/25/2008

real reality about realism or something - it seems like a serious mumbo jumbo language

Really? | 09:23 am on 5/25/2008

The most amazing thing about Rob Bell
- is that grown-up pastors
--take him seriously. I stopped
---reading Dr. Seuss when I was 10 -
apparently 40 is the new 10.

JoshH | 11:45 am on 5/26/2008

Don't you understand?
He's oh--so--pomo. Really, what he's doing is just creating a printed version of how he talks out loud; I know that the things I say out loud would be loaded with semicolons and dashes and parentheses and footnotes if they were ever put in a printed form.

budda | 01:00 pm on 5/26/2008

It's ok, Josh, some people don't like blues based rock n roll either.

"Joliet" Jake- "So what kind of music do you have here?"

Waitress - "Oh we have both kinds, country and western.

SRebbe | 09:20 am on 5/27/2008

remind me to send in some of my boss' letters. he uses more misplaced dashes and semicolons and ellipses than anyone I've ever seen... my editing skills have grown by leaps and bounds. at least Robbie's writing makes sense. my boss doesn't talk in that manner.

30 is the new 10. I know this to be true.
I read it on a Hallmark card.
it's because the Boomers still refuse to age.
at this rate, I'll be working after I die.
now They trust no one UNDER 30.
at least I have an excuse not to grow up...
they never showed me how.

David Williams | 10:00 am on 5/27/2008

This would be a whole bunch funnier if I'd ever actually read the guy. Oh well. Guess you had to be there.

JoshH | 03:15 pm on 5/27/2008

Aren't you "with it?"

Haven't you listened to the podcasts of his sermons? Or watched his "Nooma" videos? All of that's become quite trendy of late.

Other side's the Door's interview with him that I mentioned in earlier comments:
It's a bit loaded with spammy messages, but

JoshH | 03:16 pm on 5/27/2008

but just don't bother reading the comments. *shrug* (stupid itchy "post comment" finger)

Dorsey | 06:33 am on 5/28/2008

The parody isn't nearly as funny as the comments, especially the old guys complaining about the grammar and punctuation. Where would we be without all the rules of style handed down by our forefathers, the prophets Strunk & White?

You never heard Jesus start a sentence with 'but.' Therefore, we shouldn't, either.

SRebbe | 04:20 pm on 5/28/2008

what is Aramaic for 'but' ?

Jesus didn't use The King's English either. but that one doesn't hold up in many churches. oops. grammatic error. abort! abort!

what ever would happen if we actually had grammatically correct song-age?

dammit, I threw a britney on that one...

EWilson | 07:35 am on 5/29/2008

Ha, well done! The scary thing is he actually teaches like that as well. (I've attended Mars Hill since 1999, so I guess I've heard him a few times.) Shalom

SRebbe | 04:57 pm on 5/29/2008

mmmmm... string cheese theory........

Nary | 07:44 am on 5/30/2008

Nice symbology.

homemaker | 08:05 pm on 6/04/2008

this is the most pathetic example of someone who supposedly knows what the Bible is about. what kind of idiot would take advice, Christain advice, from someone who talks about God as if He has no direct counsel to give a man and a woman who are in conflict. who wants to follow a man who has no direction (rob bell). don't waste your time any longer reading crap like this. READ THE BIBLE or a book that actually has biblical guidance. stop going "nowhere." REPENT ROB BELL. DON'T BE LUKE WARM WATER THAT GOD WILL SPIT OUT.

Anonymous | 11:50 am on 6/18/2008

Who's Luke Warm Water?

UNCLE KENNY | 12:26 pm on 6/11/2008

Great parody!

. . .making fun of his quirks and style is one thing, but what gives with the fire breathing some of you folks are posting?

Do you really think this guy is a dangerous heretic? I mean i would be the first to admit some of the things he says are kooky and his theology might be a tad too liberal for my taste, but heresy?

Look, there is a difference between trying to make scripture culturally relevant to the lost and downright blasphemy. Even with Bell's tangents where he says thinks like, "it was as if maybe. . .Jesus. . .was almost. . .like trying to. . .probably. . .say. . ." he never actually contradicts scripture.

There is huge difference in trying to nudge people along the Engel scale and well, getting them to worship a golden idol and drink some suspicious tasting Koolaid.


You might not like Rob, but thousands of people that would step a foot inside your church, are now seeking Jesus. So what if they were first attracted to the theological cotton candy. The important thing is that they are on their way to encountering God.

By the way, before you launch that rock you keep rolling around in your hand, you might want to be careful. I don't agree with everything going on at Mars Hill, but it is pretty clear the Spirit of God is at work there. The last time I checked, the spirit doesn't take too kindly to being mocked. Make fun of Bell's kooky style all you want, but be real careful about spitting into the great big fan of God.

UNCLE KENNY | 12:30 pm on 6/11/2008

Sorry, that should have said "never stepped a foot inside your church" above. Hey "Door" staff, how about an "edit" function on the posting board?

Anonymous | 10:57 pm on 6/18/2008

goodbye nooma jean.

jazzact13 | 12:54 pm on 6/25/2008

--Do you really think this guy is a dangerous heretic?--

If this isn't a rhetorical question, I would say, "Yeah, pretty much".

Or maybe...




--Who's Luke Warm Water?--

You'll find him mentioned in the second Superman/Spider-Man crossover comic. I'm not kidding. It's the one where they're battling Doctor Doom and the Parasite.

Anonymous | 03:05 pm on 7/16/2008

Luke Warm-Water is our name for that wierd kid that's always peeing in the public pool...

Steve | 01:10 am on 8/14/2008

I like Rob Bell. He helps me want to be more like Jesus.

Virginia Rosales | 04:54 am on 1/09/2009

good luck

Barbie Kinney | 05:31 am on 1/09/2009

good luck

Marcellus Beach | 10:07 am on 1/09/2009

good luck

Shauna Villarreal | 06:27 pm on 1/10/2009

good luck

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