Apprising Ministries brings you the following video clips of Emergent Church pastor Rob Bell from Interspiritual Day at The Seeds of Compassion Event with the Dalai Lama courtesy of our associate A Little Leaven (ALL).

As was posted at Christian Research Net, “The videos posted represent EVERY word that Bell spoke at the event. These were not cherry-picked.” We are also indebted to Rick Frueh of Following Judah’s Lion for his kind assistance with the transcriptions which follow each video clip.

This first one is essentially Bell’s introductory remarks as Roshi Joan Halifax asks the Interspiritual Panel to introduce themselves:

[Beginning at 0:43 Halifax asks Rob Bell]: “Do I call you Father Rob, [background Bell says, “Rob.”] Brother Rob [“Rob’s fine.”]— Rob, what?

Rob Bell: Rob is fine.

Roshi Joan Halifax: Ok. [Rob and audience laughs] Ah, we won’t say his last name yet. Rob.

Rob Bell: Ah, growing up my father’s, ah, stepfather was very cruel to him. And in my younger years I mean remember we would go visit my grandfather. And my father would do all these jobs around the house for him and would treat him with such kindness, and he was cruel to the very end. And he would say unkind and harsh things.

And I remember one time challenging my dad, “Why are you so kind and compassionate and forgiving over and over. Why do you keep going back to his house and doing these good deeds for him when you know he’s gonna to say these hurtful things?”

And my father said, “I will love him and forgive him to the end, it’s the only way. And at a young age it, it showed me; this is a better way.

Roshi Joan Halifax: Thank you Rob, so much.

Concerning this second clip, in the post Rob Bell’s Comments at Seeds of Compassion, ALL points out:

Below is Rob Bell answering the question that a twelve year old boy asked…

If Bell were giving a Christian answer then he should have mentioned the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus Christ on the cross. Here was Rob Bell’s answer… (Online source)

Roshi Joan Halifax: You know in America we grade people, ah, for their work; ah, you’ve done—very excellent job this week in, um, keeping your anger in a transforming state—ah, turning it into compassion; so, we give you an “A.” (audience applause as video moves to the Dalai Lama)

And as his Holiness said, it’s not always success that we meet—so, um, Josh from Seattle has a question about this—when we fail.

Josh: How can ah, you or an individual, learn to not be so hard on yourself? And, what I mean by that is; how do you learn to redeem yourself for a mistake—or something like, you’re doing all these compassionate acts and you have one slip up, how can you learn to overcome.

Roshi Joan Halifax: Ok; Josh, I lost the second part of your question. So, maybe you can, um, say it just a little slower. I know the first part is: How do you learn not to be so hard on yourself. The second part—

Josh: Ah, what I meant—Oh, [volume of microphone startles him, audience laughs]

Roshi Joan Halifax: Great—that’s better.

Josh: What I meant by that was ah, that how, if you make one mistake, how do you learn to overcome that [pause] inside and continue being a compassionate person?

Roshi Joan Halifax: Ok. Thanks Josh, [speaking to Rob Bell] I—I’d love to hear your perspective.

Rob Bell: I think, I think that many people, ah, are—pick up along the way that life is about destination. So they’re taught it’s about arriving; it’s about having all the answers, it’s about creating a nice box that you sit in and defend.

But my fundamental understanding is that life is journey. And journey, is a fundamentally different way to understand life, than destination.

Roshi Joan Halifax: Yeah.

Rob Bell: And on a journey, [Roshi Joan Halifax: That’s right] all I have, am responsible for, is the next step. And that’s all I’m ever asked for—is the next step. [Roshi Joan Halifax smiling and nodding in agreement] I don’t have to have it all figured out; I don’t have to defend it all—I don’t have to have it all nailed down.

And if you can shift from destination understanding, to em[brace]—to journey; it frees you to take life as it comes. Let it be what it is, and then do the next right thing.

Roshi Joan Halifax: Ok Rob, thank you so much. [audience applauds]

In this next clip you will hear Bell address the Dalai Lama as “his holiness.” It is inexcusable for a Christian pastor to address the head of a pagan religion by such a title, and even more so when there was no reason to in his comment.

And ALL also encourages us:

In this [third] video pay close attention to how Bell allegorizes death and resurrection so that it can fit neatly and inoffensively into the generic one-world spirituality being promoted at this event. (ibid)

Question: Um, there is—in the world we live in, today, we all know too well the kind of violence, destruction that, spirituality can breed. Whether it’s [pause] the genocide in Darfur, or it’s the events that happened on September 11th [pause], and I would like to know how you feel spirituality can be used as a catalyst for—not for destruction—and for pain, and for hatred, but for compassion, love [long pause]

Roshi Joan Halifax: Ok. So, um, I want to ask Rob—who has this huge congregation. [pause]

Rob Bell: Ah, when somebody wrongs you; when they commit and injustice, when they do evil—whether it’s something petty or whether it’s the oppression of millions—it’s as if they have handed you this injustice, or evil.

And so you can hand it back, that’s called revenge, that’s when you take the wrong, the evil, the injustice, the hurt, the betrayal, and you simply respond in kind. There is, next to revenge, another option, which is not to hand back the pain, which means that you’re going to have to bear that pain.

And when you choose not to respond with revenge or retaliation, but you choose to respond with forgiveness—and you choose to take it and bear that pain—it is going to be heavy, but it is going to lead to your freedom. It is going to feel like a death, but it is going to lead to a resurrection. It’s gonna feel like a Friday, but a Sunday is going to come.

And I think what we see [motions toward the Dalai Lama] with Archbishop Tutu, and his Holiness, is when people choose not to hand it back, but to bear it, it will always lead to suffering and it will—you will unavoidably become a better person on the other side. An’ I think that’s what we respond to; is that is what changes the world; when somebody chooses not to hand it back.”

And ALL tells us that this final clip “gives more context regarding the ‘spirituality’ that was being promoted at this event.”

Young Questioner: There is strong fear toward religious pluralism and its effects. How can interfaith dialogue bring compassion without losing one’s religious identity?

Roshi Joan Halifax: So this is a really, kind of raw question. So Dr. Mattson, would you step into that question?

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America (Online source): Well, I’d like to refer to a verse in the Qu’ran that addresses this question in particular. The Qu’ran says God created religious pluralism for a reason. It would have been in his power, his complete power, to make us one faith community. But he chose to create us in these communities so that we could strive as in a race toward goodness.

So interfaith engagement and dialogue is like the Olympics of the spirit. When we strive, looking at the other person in a spirit of holy envy of wanting to be better in that way—I want to have the forgiveness of Bishop Tutu, I want my community to embrace that. I want my community to have the patience and compassion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This is what will make each of us better without losing anything. So this is the true Olympics here today.

Roshi Joan Halifax: That’s lovely. That’s a great answer, a beautiful answer. Mr. Singh?

Guru Singh, Sikh philosopher and spiritual leader (Online source): I think as a Sikh given that religious identity is a very cold part of who we are as individuals. The whole identity part of it turns into what do we stand for in this world. Each one of us wrestles with that question. And as a Sikh you make a commitment to God that you’re going to stand for social justice, and that’s what it represents to me as an individual.

Now when I look at the whole idea of having a conversation between different faiths, I think we tend to think on that as a very serious conversation. And when I’m sitting out here and I see Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama being very playful, being naughty, if that is an appropriate word to use for these gentlemen. Yet their playfulness ties to the core of their essence.

The Sikh scriptures start with a word Ik Oncar and that is “God is one”. And I think that’s the core thing, we are all children of the same god. It is universal So when we recognize that feeling that we all are from, whether we believe in a formalized god or an infinite being or a spiritual sense that pervades humanity or cosmos, does not matter.

I think so long that we recognize that that’s who we are as individuals, I think we can benefit from that. And if we start from there, religious dialogue, our understanding of each other’s faith can only help us become better individuals.

You can share your comments concerning these clips over at A Little Leaven.

See also: