02 December 2013

Book Review: Soul Talk

As I prepare for the School of Spiritual Direction, I have been working my way through several of Larry Crabb's books. Soul Talk (2003), the final required book prior to attending, was a good read. Another prerequisite for the school was to complete 4 online courses in spiritual direction. Soul Talk appears to be the clearest exposition of the model Crabb developed in the 4 courses.

A common theme that wends its way through Crabb's books is that too often, we replace first things with second things in our affections. Indeed, much of modern Christianity is built upon the pursuit of material blessings rather than the pursuit of God. Specific to this book, Crabb contrasted "self-talk" with "Soul talk." Although we speak to one another, our speech is too often filled with solutions or religious platitudes rather than words that come from the center of our soul. Crabb wrote, "We almost never speak words that are formed in the center of our soul and pour out from our very being with power and a sense of life. And we almost never hear words that stir life within us, that pour hope into those empty spaces deep inside filled only with fear and fury and frustration." Crabb has high hopes that we might begin to engage in conversations where the Spirit can dance.

He recommends a number of "steps", though perhaps steps is the wrong word.  He is clear that he is not recommending something akin to "6 steps to a happy marriage."  However, he does suggest a process for engaging with others. When people share with us something going on in their lives, we need to "think beneath" resisting the temptation to speak too quickly or provide band-aid answers. We then must "think vision"--not in terms of the immediate situation, but in terms of what could happen if the person focused on God first.  I particularly appreciated his notion of "thinking passion" because we are encouraged to think about what is going on in our own hearts. Next we "think story", where we listen to hear the hidden story shaping the events of their lives. Finally, we "think movement" toward brokenness, repentance, trust, and release of the true self.

On the whole, this was a good book. I have appreciated Crabb's understanding of walking in brokenness with others. I did not get as much out of this book as I did out of Inside Out or The Pressure's Off, but this is a foundational book in his thinking.  I would recommend it.

[2015 edit] I re-read this book in October 2015 and I was much more deeply taken with this book than I was initially.  I am not sure if this response was due to an increased familiarity with the concept of SoulTalk or something else. Regardless, this book remains foundational, but it is not just good, it is excellent. 

No comments: