10.19.2006

Is Rob Bell real?

Sometimes I think I'm becoming too cynical. Here's my problem. I'm an INFP according to Myers-Briggs, and one of my things is that I place a high value on authenticity. So, it frustrates me when I feel like someone is being artificial.

So, I'm reading this book right now called Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My friend, Ted, is also reading the book and has posted some of his thoughts on it (here and here) over on his blog, StragglingBand. Ted asks the question, "Is questioning what you believe healthy?" He raises some thoughts worth considering....

But before I can talk about that, I just have to get this off my chest.

I just think the book design is a little over the top. I mean, look at the front cover--plain matte white with the title Velvet Elvis in small orange letters written sideways. It's also got Rob's name and the subtitle written sideways with two little "plus signs" added for aesthetic effect. It's like it's screaming out, "Look at me! I'm different!"

And what's with the bright orange pages at the front of each chapter? And what's with the chapters being called movements, and not just calling them chapters?

Don't get me wrong. I think Rob is a great thinker. I like listening to his sermons. I think his Nooma videos are awesome. I like being challenged by his ideas.

But, I don't know... I just feel like Rob is trying to be cool. Listen, it's just a book! Words on paper. Yeah, yeah, the medium is the message and all that. And believe me, I value good graphic design.

But it just feels fake to me. It feels like he's trying too hard to be "relevant" or "postmodern" or "hip" or whatever....

My cynicism is flowing right now. Sorry...

Anyway, I really do have something more significant than this to say about the book, but I just had to get this off my chest first.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Be careful not to confuse the messenger with the publisher. It is just like anyone who is a celebrity... there are other people here that make lots of decisions other than the author...and I personally (as a graphic design lover and having lots of under grad in it) appreciate the simplicity of the cover design (reminds you of the simplicity of an iPod huh?) but yeah ther eyou go my $.02

Markus Watson said...

Yeah, I'm sure you're right that the publisher had a lot to do with it. About a week ago I saw at Borders that they've released the paperback version with a new design. In my opinion, the new design doesn't look like it's trying so hard.

Scott Boss said...

Yo Markus it's Scott, Cali rules. Enough said. No, I kind of agree with the showy side of book, and you see that also in the Nooma's as well, although I like it. But in regards to calling the chapters movements instead of chapters, I may be reading into a little to much, but you could say that he names it that as a hope to tell the reader that these things he talks about are not just words on a page, but they require action. And the simple cover may remark to getting the junk, as Dustin calls it, out of your lives. I don't know just a thought.

steve-o said...

Actually, I'm rather familiar with Rob's ministry and he dictated the way he wanted it designed, so it was meant to be uber-hip.

The irony is that if you ever attend his church you would be underwhelmed. They meet in a redesigned shopping mall in a warehouse setting. And any PowerPoint they use is simple white text on a black screen.

I wrote some stuff up about Velvet Elvis last year here and here.

Markus Watson said...

Scott!! What's up?! You're awesome! And, yeah, Cali rules!!

Kaleb Coleman said...

As a graphic designer I have to say that I love the designs of all of his stuff. It is simply good design. True it's about the content, but there are plenty of secular books out there with the same type of good design. Just because it is a book about Christianity and God, should it just be a bland book? There are a few books in the Christian section that stand out with good design, and I would say they are marketed to 20 somethings even early 30's, so perhaps the designer is doing his job. In a culture driven by face value and design, you have to entice people at first glance, and then... let them enjoy the content.

Just a thought on what I am reminded of everyday as a designer.

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