i got this book along with 'blue like jazz' from mal and hazel for my birthday. i liked both books, but in a battle between 'blue like jazz' and 'velvet elvis', i appoint 'velvet elvis' the victor.
both books have a similar aim: the subtitle of 'blue like jazz' is "nonreligious thoughts on christian spirituality", 'velvet elvis' is subtitled "repainting the christian faith". in a world where 'christianity' seems to be becoming less popular as it is besmirched by parting ways with the culture of the day and the actions and words of unwise spokespeople, along with a healthy smattering of prejudice and media spin, books like these that try to get back to the essential core of christianity become increasingly important.
rob bell does an excellent, if not slightly controversial, job of refiguring christianity. he expects, and invites, controversy as a way of engaging with the big issues. i found that i warmed to his book more as it went along.
the man has a gift for communicating his ideas and it is easy to see why his 'mars hill' church has grown so quickly. he says things which at first seem controversial, but underneath this surface there emerges a brand of christianity that is actually quite orthodox. i guess i am going to cop out a little and not discuss any of his ideas in detail - it would be difficult to pinpoint one example in particular because the book is so wide ranging.
'velvet elvis' is nicely presented - interesting design, with ideas delivered in short paragraphs and one-liners.
so i recommend it as a way of looking at christianity that avoids a lot of negative baggage. by the end, i found 'velvet elvis' to be one of those books that you feel disappointed about finishing.
warandpeace-o-meter: 785/981 (volIII, bookXII, chapXIV)