Sunday, September 30, 2007

Book Review: Soul Feast

Recently someone suggested that the journey of faith is not necessarily a linear one, in which we move from point A to point B. I’m inclined to agree, although I used to view it that way. If I was not farther along today than I was yesterday, then I was backslidden. Now it reminds me more of math class, where every year began with a review of the basics, of which mastery was critical if you were to move on to higher math concepts. God has been providing me with plenty of opportunity for review lately!

In Soul Feast, Marjorie Thompson takes us back to the basics; those spiritual practices which form the foundation of our walk with God. In the prologue, she summarizes her focus: “I remain convinced that the way forward lies in practicing the truths we know, not merely knowing the right theology.”

By way of introduction, Thompson spends an entire chapter on spiritual transformation. In this era where the word “spirituality” means something different to everyone, from New Age seekers to Twelve-Step program participants, what does it mean as followers of Christ to be spiritually transformed? Paul describes this as the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, continually forming us into the image of Christ. Thompson likens the spiritual disciplines as windows which must remain transparent, never obscuring but always enhancing our view of God. The minute they become a means to an end, the disciplines becomes opaque, “reflecting our distorted motives.”

Spirituality then, and spiritual practices in particular, are simply ways to make space for God to work in our lives. Prayer, fasting, scripture reading and hospitality are just a few of the seven disciplines covered in this book. Each idea is presented along with a few questions and opportunities to pause for reflection, along with suggestions for engaging in that practice. The book is aptly titled Soul Feast, for the myriad of ways in which we can enhance our walk with God are indeed much like a smörgåsbord. Impossible to taste everything at once, but over time we can learn to incorporate many of these practices into our lives.