He’s one of Oprah’s favorite people — and he’s headed to The Fillmore on Friday night.
But when Rob Bell gets on stage, he won’t be playing music or telling jokes. The motivational speaker will chat about a topic many average folks are curious about: life.
Believe it, there really won’t be much religious talk coming out of the former pastor from Michigan. As attendees of Oprah’s “The Life You Want” tour in Miami late last year witnessed, Bell, 44, is really more interested in the bigger picture.
We talked to the California-based married father of three and bestselling author before his trip:
You were featured on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” program on OWN and got close in the process. What is she like in person?
Just like you’d think — an extraordinary human being who is the real deal. She’s someone who is looking to grow, stretch, learn. I mean, she really does read all those books that she talks about. People may know her for interviewing celebrities, but she has great wisdom and is a great teacher.
How can you describe your Fillmore show?
It’s somewhere between a one-man show, a recovery meeting, performance art — a grand, guerrilla mash-up of all those things [laughs]. I absolutely love to get a bunch of people in a room and talk about the nature of our universe and how our heart works and all the endless connections between science and the soul. About love, hope, longing, the future, grace, redemption. I’ll also do a meet and greet afterward and give everyone a hug. I hope the audience finds it a different kind of art form — one that’s beautiful, inspiring and provocative.
When you look out in the crowd who are you seeing?
Wow, well, if you were to look for a demographic, I would just say humans. We’ve got the whole spectrum: high school kids, retired couples, university professors. It makes me laugh sometimes because there’s no rhyme or reason. What connects them all is a hunger to explore spirituality in a setting where no one is trying to convert them or sell them anything. Many come up to me afterward and say, ‘I have no religious background and I’ve never heard of you, but I got so much out of this.’ That’s what is compelling to me.
What are the most common questions you get?
It’s that fear of missing out. They know the moment is going to be over, and they want to be fully present. Their kids are growing up so fast, but they’re on the phone and they’ve got 19 things on their to-do list, they’re texting, returning emails. They’re all over the place, and ask, ‘How can I not feel like my life is passing me by?’
So is technology a big issue among your fans?
I think so. It can connect us with the outside world, and you can get a glimpse of someone’s photos and there’s bonding that happens. But social media like, say Facebook, can present the world with a curated image of what you wish your world was like. So your post got “10 likes” or it got “100 likes.” If you’re deeply searching for validation, that kind of thing can actually exacerbate your troubles and backfire. I equate it to when man discovered fire: You can use it to warm yourself and cook, but it can also burn your house down.
Where do you see us heading in the future?
I think we’re going back to flesh and blood; you can’t replace physical experiences. More and more, it’ll be not so much of, ‘I saw that clip on YouTube,’ but ‘I was there.’ People cherish actual encounters, and we’ll start putting down the phones.
“Everything Is Spiritual” tour at The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater starts at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 7:30 pm. All ages welcome, but everyone needs a ticket to enter. From $25. Livenation.com