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Some may wonder why Bell needs Christianity at all—why he doesn't just do yoga, or become a Buddhist. But he categorically rejects the notion that his version of the Jesus story is watered-down or any less devout because he doesn't think it ends with most of us in hell. "I believe that 2,000 years ago this guy walked the earth and said these extraordinary things," says Bell. "I believe that there is new life to be found in his death and resurrection." In What We Talk About When We Talk About God, he writes: "This isn't just an idea to me; this is an urgent, passionate, ecstatic invitation to wake up, to see the world as it truly is."

He views Christianity as a path, first and foremost. Bell believes that "the universal needs a particular"—that we need guidance to become the people we are capable of becoming. The power of a path, he says, "is that you set your intention to become more aware, to heighten your senses and sharpen your eyes, so that you don't miss anything." True spiritual experience often begins in those instants when your soul takes a picture of things, he says.

Children are great at inspiring these moments. "When it's just you and your kid and yet you're like, 'This is so much bigger than us,'" says Bell. "It feels like you're being shown something about the universe."

Bell is behind the wheel of the Sequoia again, driving his two younger children, Preston and Violet, to school (the oldest, Trace, went earlier). Violet, a disarming 4-year-old blonde moppet, sits in her car seat in pink leggings, slowly gnawing at a flower-shaped cookie with pink icing. "Violet is all organic and vegetarian, but regularly eats a cookie for breakfast," notes Bell. His dogma has obviously inspired his offspring: Violet suddenly cries out with glee, "Look at the ocean!" We are cresting a hill overlooking precipitous green cliffs descending into blue. To Violet's right are two large black paddles; the boards are on the roof. As Preston jumps out of the car in front of his school, Bell calls, "I love you, man!" and then mutters, "Oh, my word, I think he made it on time. Amazing."

He looks at his daughter in the rearview mirror. "Violet, what do we usually do after we drop Preston off?" Then he cranks the music—"Boll Weevil," a jaunty song by the band the Presidents of the United States of America—and the two sing together.

To watch Bell with his kids is to see what we are all chasing. Not a sun-kissed existence in California (though that looks nice too), but peace and grace in each moment.

The reassuring sense that we are loved, that this has meaning, that something bigger is going on here.

That we are always, eternally, okay.

Rob Bell ecourse Learn how to find joy and meaning in every day life with Rob Bell's eCourse.


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