A few years ago I was at a Calvin seminar on Christian writing, and during one segment we discussed Rob Bell, his book Velvet Elvis, and his Nooma videos. A few of us watched several of them together. The end of one of them, "Luggage," came as such a surprise that one of my fellow seminar participants blurted out, "Damn!" We discussed Bell's rhetoric and communication style, and our sense was that in many ways, Bell was accomplishing for this generation what Billy Graham had done for the post-WWII generation, using current technology to contextualize and communicate the gospel in fresh, new ways.
I've watched maybe seven or eight of the Nooma videos, and for the most part I've appreciated what I've seen. They provide engaging ways of entering into various topics, and they seem to be good for sparking discussion. Some have critiqued Noomas for not being wholly comprehensive in their teaching, depending on your theological perspective. But if people have misgivings, they can certainly augment them with further discussion. I don't know that they are intended to be the whole enchilada all in themselves anyway.
At any rate, I've not seen more of them mostly because they're not the kind of things I tend to buy. So this morning I was pleased to stumble across some free samples and previews of Noomas available on Facebook. One of the ones available in its entirety is "Rich," which I saw at a trade show a while back. This one is particularly relevant to our consumer culture, as it puts our consumerism in global perspective and calls us to better stewardship and generosity.
Right now the newest Nooma, "She," is also available, and this one looks at the experience of motherhood as a window into God's character. Riffing off of Isaiah, Bell observes that if you've ever seen a mother comfort her child, you've seen a glimpse of who God is. A mother's labor and giving birth is a picture of God's grace - we did nothing on our part to be born, but somebody else's suffering, labor, blood, sweat and tears is what gave us life. The film is quite moving, and it's a great tribute to moms everywhere. I'll bet this one gets plenty of use next Mother's Day.