The Drops Like Stars Tour Part One

October 16, 2009

activism / art / spirituality

Currently, Rob Bell is on the Drops Like Stars tour (see cities and dates), going around the country exploring the relationships between suffering and creativity. He has also released a book about this. If you can make it to the tour, please do. Either way, feel encouraged to buy the book. The tour will, I’m guessing, be out on DVD before too long.

I have already shared some of my thoughts on Don Miller’s new book, and it is fascinating to me how much is in common between the two. Mentally and emotionally, at least, I have been shaken by what is being said through them, and my hope is that this will flow through and shake the rest of my life.

I want to write a few posts about this, as there are some distinct areas in which the event has said things to me. One of these was derived from an image. Rob Bell speaks of a time when he was watching people in a certain part of his town, when he saw a teenager driving his mom’s SUV through a shopping district, listening to rap music from a context entirely alien to him. Of course, if he had driven a couple of miles from were he was, he would have been in the kind of context where such music is created, and would quickly have run or driven elsewhere.

He takes this image to remind us that there is a spectrum of death with which humans have to deal. There is a death on one end, a violent or painful or suffering death, which is the subject of part of the event. On the other end, there is a death from boredom, and this is probably what the SUV driving young man is trying to flee, though he doesn’t know how.

Death from boredom

This image struck me to the core, especially in light of the thinking I’ve been doing in light of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I have some of the pieces of a good story – maybe even an epic story. There is potential for me to move into that kind of story with my life. But in just as many pieces, I’m living a bad story, or even a stupid story, or waiting to see what kind of story my next moves will lead me into.

The example that the tour uses is the founder of charity: water, one of the most beautiful organizations working in the world today. The founder, apparently, was living that kind of bored life – had everything people are supposed to want, but was dying inside. Searching for meaning, he went on a medical trip to Africa, where he learned that “80% of all disease is caused by unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation.” Coming home to New York, he did something about it, asking his wealthy friends to pay administrative fees so that all donations from the rest of us go directly to direct project costs, funding sustainable water solutions.

We were told a number of wonderful stories along these lines. Stories of art and activism engaging suffering. The point here was, in essence, “If we don’t find some suffering and do something about it, we’ll die.”