Monday, December 10, 2007

Rob Bell - Too much Noise?

I read Rob Bell's book 'Velvet Elvis' and really liked it. Since then I've been looking out for his Nooma Dvd's. Found them a while back at R104 at Cum books. Too much for 11 minutes and I don't know what's in the 11 minutes. But then I gave in and bought one (now R109). I chose Noise because I was going to be talking about 'Listening for God's Voice' on Sunday.

What a waste of money! About two minutes of Rob Bell flicking channels on his TV with a short telling of Elijah's still small voice experience. Then the rest of the ten minutes has Bible verses about noise and voices appearing on the screen. I appreciate that he's trying to make the point that we need silence in our lives to hear God well, but R100 for some silence is not useful.

I guess I was hoping for a cool drama or something to illustrate the point. I wonder what's on the other dvds?


Roger Saner said...

Hahaha! R104 for silence!!! Haha!

I'm still surprised you didn't find anything of worth in that DVD. Sound engineers talk of 2 things: signal and noise. The signal is the meaningful part of the transmission; the noise distorts it.

Listening to God means thinking both about the signal and about the noise. If we're so busy with music and TV and iPods and Grey's Anatomy and movies and it any wonder we complain that we can't hear God?

We played the "Noise" dvd at Change Agents last year and - in a room full of youth leaders and youth pastors - when we hit the 30 seconds of silence 2 minutes in, the room couldn't make it through. People started giggling and whistling...and these are the ones who lead young people!

Incidentally, this dvd is the one Nooma have received most complaints about in the States, all variations on the theme of, "Why is this DVD only 2 minutes long?!?!"

Roger Saner said...

Also, doesn't it strike you as a little innocuous to expect some activity to tell you how important silence is? Seems like the only way to learn the value of silence be silent.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Roger
Thanks for your comments! I do understand what you are saying and agree with it (in terms of getting away from the noise to hear the signal). But I think I was hoping for something from the dvd that was ... um ... more than I could have done myself? There are many ways of introducing silence into a church gathering without too much effort. I also felt that it did not bring silence but replaced it with another sort of noise - the text visuals.
I wonder if it would be more effective if used after using other Nooma dvds over a number of weeks? Then it would create the tension of expectation/ reality. And I do think you can teach about silence - many people (I guess as you suggested in your comment) almost panic when faced with quiet. It is useful to teach skills to deal with and use silence. A drama could parody our hectic life . . . There are options.
If you call back here - won't you describe the content of the other dvds? I am disinclined to try others, but would like to be persuaded otherwise.
And I do see your points - maybe one day I'll find a situation that calls for that dvd.

Roger Saner said...

I used "Noise" at Change Agents earlier this year as an introduction to an afternoon of silence among around 200 people who were (mostly) entirely unused to silence. I think used in a context like that "Noise" works excellently. I don't think I'd use it in church necessarily...

In terms of using it in a series of Nooma dvd's...there's not really a flow between them - each stands on its own. I haven't seen all of them, but I really like "Today", "Rain", "You", "Sunday" and "Bullhorn Guy". So many people have legit copies of these that maybe it's worth your while to check them out before buying - I *do* recommend them. One teacher friend of mine uses them before class sometimes for the kids to watch...

Arthur said...

Hey Jenny!

On reading this post I felt I had to respond!

Earlier this year we used selected Nooma DVD's as curriculum for our Grade 4-6 group at church. The kids were given an ice-breaker and then watched the DVD. A short interactive teaching followed and then the children broke into small groups for more intense discussion and Bible study on the topic raised in the DVD.

The response from the children was fantastic and they were truly sad when the series came to an end. Parents were telling us how the children were so engaged and how they were going home wanting to dig deeper in Scripture around the issues in the DVD's.

One caveat though - not all the DVD's are suitable for children so discretion must be used.

We have felt that this series of DVD's engaged the children in real issues and got them thinking about God's take on them as well as moving them towards greater interaction with Scripture. I wouldn't hesistate to use them again.

Interestingly we did use the "Noise" DVD as well and the children managed to sit through it without too much effort. Some of the children were deeply challenged by this session and told us in following weeks how they had tried to find 'silence' in the day to focus on God and how hard they had to try to find this time every day.

I agree that not everyone will find Rob Bell's style engaging or challenging buy just wanted to share our experience with you!

Blessings to you and the family.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Arthur
Nice to hear from you! I think a regards the NOOMA dvds, that I just happened to choose an unfortunate one to start with.
I may also be trying to use them in the wrong setting - as Roger said with youth leaders and you say with kids.
However, our evening service is a family service and we try to appeal to the kids as well as their parents.
I will try to borrow some and have a look.
Thanks again for your comment!