Book Review: Soul Care in African American Practice

Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara Peacock

In the late 90s and early 2000s Renovare released some volumes on spiritual reading that were “workbook” based. One, Spiritual Classics, focused on readings for individuals and groups based on the 12 spiritual disciplines from Richard Foster’s classic, Celebration of Discipline. Another book was Devotional Classics based on Foster’s book, Streams of Living Water. They were designed to take individuals or groups through a slow process of learning from historic spiritual reading combined with Scripture and spiritual formation practices. I still have those volumes on my shelves. They are well-worn.

In that tradition and format comes Barbara Peacock’s book from Intervarsity Press, Soul Care in African American Practice.

Barbara L. Peacock (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is a spiritual director, author, teacher, and preacher. She is the founder of Barbara L. Peacock Ministries, a ministry committed to developing disciples through prayer, spiritual direction, soul care, mentoring, and teaching.

This book picks up the spirit of those previous works from Renovare. She sets them firmly in the practice of spiritual formation for African Americans by utilizing African American teachers and leaders past and present.

Her focus in this book is on spiritual direction, spiritual disciplines, and prayer. She then uses each chapter to focus on a particular African American leader and their writing and/or example in a particular practice.

From Frederick Douglas to Rosa Parks to Howard Thurman, Peacock tells their individual stories, how they exemplified a particular spiritual discipline, then leads the reader through exercises in spiritual formation.

This is a beautiful work that is useful as a tool for individuals or groups.

Especially useful to all of us, especially in the white church, is her introduction. She readily reminds all of us what we should readily know: the historic Church isn’t WHITE. It’s African. It’s Asian.

Our greatest theology and our earliest credal doctrines are rooted in Africa and Asia. Not Europe.

Contemplative practices are rooted in African soil. We too often think of Egypt or Tunisia as “Arab”, but that doesn’t come until after the 7th Century. So, when I did my work in seminary on spiritual fathers and mothers of the Egyptian desert, I had to constantly remind myself this was an AFRICAN context, not an “Arab” context.

Great church leaders/fathers we look to and reference for theological roots are African: Augustine, Tertullian, Cyprian, and others.

American Christianity didn’t “save” the “poor African slave.” Christianity was grown in African soil.

“Though African captives experienced the worst of oppression on the decks of slave ships, the overarching good news was that God still prevailed.” (p. 18)

Settle yourself in for a journey through the centuries. Hear the voices of contemporary African American mystics. Draw from their wealth of experience and walk with them as they walk with God.

Soul Care in African American Practice: Barbara L. Peacock ...

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