Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Praise of Nooma

I am not sure when I first heard about Nooma videos. There was some talk. That's all I remember. Someone said that the videos were cool. I don't know who it was. I can't tell you when it was. Then someone (I think it was Jeff Newton) told me I should read Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell. So I did.

The book was good, but didn't get me too excited. Bell has an interesting approach to the church, to Christianity in particular and faith in general. He looks at the big picture of things, but also sees the tiniest detail at the same time. I liked that. That is about the time that I realized Rob Bell, author of the book, was also the person behind the Nooma video series. I decided it was time to try one out.

I went to my local Christian store where I found a video called "Rain." I brought it home and watched it with my wife. I was immediately hooked. In Rain, Bell is carrying his toddler son on his bike as they hike through the woods. When they get as far away from their cabin as they can get, a storm begins. Naturally the son is terrified. During the whole trip back father tries to assure son that everything will be fine. Daddy is in charge. Finally, Bell makes the comparison to our Father, God, caring for us as his children. It was powerful. I was hooked.

There are currently 24 films in the series. They are all rather short (10-15 minutes). Some of my favorites include Rain, Lump, Luggage and Dust. They are all available at any Christian store or online at http://flannel.org/. Each video comes with Scriptures and discussion guides for groups.

I have used nearly all of these films with various kinds of groups. Discussion is almost always good. The quality of these videos is excellent. Bell is good as the narrator and the stories that are told, both by him and by the images we see, are dramatic and appropriate. It is good to see that there are Christians who are using their gifts in very creative ways.

The Christian faith is clearly spoken in these films. It is not the "in-your-face" faith of fundamentalist preachers from an older generation, but it is a completely orthodox, Christian account of the world we live in.

Nooma is a kind-of corruption of the Greek word, pneuma. In the New Testament the pneuma is the Holy Spirit and also the breath of God. Pneuma is another word for wind. There is a fresh wind from God that blows through these videos and makes them worthwhile watching.

I recommend these films highly. Watch them and be challenged. Watch them and be entertained. Watch them and grow.

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