It was the summer of 2002. I was sitting dead center in a large, megachurch auditorium. I had been struggling with my concepts of God and church for some time; so, although the good student in me wanted to sit near the front, I moved back in an act of deviance. I was there because the visiting preacher, Rob Bell, intrigued me; and yet, somehow, I needed him and everyone to know I would not be mindlessly accepting what was said. The best I came up with was to pick a less "enthusiastic" seat.

I only remember one part of the sermon that day: an aside where Rob Bell spent maybe a minute talking about corporate sin. It was a minute, though, I'd never heard uttered in church. I had grown up attending Sunday school and youth groups, going on mission trips and volunteering, being confirmed for Christ's sake, literally; yet sin committed on a larger scale, by societies or the groups within them, had never been discussed. The concept resonated deeply; why was this the first I was hearing of it?

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