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.

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Major shifts are magnified in the time of coronavirus

We are in the midst of the most widespread societal upheaval that many people alive today have ever experienced. Already our institutions, habits, relationships, and culture are shifting before our eyes. Frank M. Snowden, author of Epidemics and Society, shared with the New Yorker, “Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are.” The question we are facing is not whether we will experience sorrow and change; the question is how. As biblical prophets walked with people through catastrophes, their advice was never to just endure until it ends. Instead they focused on proactively changing relationships with each other and with God. (More on this article HERE.)

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We settle for so little

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:11-14)

These thoughts from N.T. Wright:

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Wrestling with who I am

I am so grateful for the walk I have with the Lord. Struggle as I might, his Spirit keeps leading. When I am walking in discipline it gives room for the Holy Spirit to direct. One of my regular disciplines is to read through the Daily Office Scriptures. In the new Anglican Book of Common Prayer, that is a big chunk every day.

What I have allowed myself to do is simply be on that journey and listen. There are times when the Spirit says, “Slow it down here. Camp here. I have something to talk over with you.”

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Aren’t you tired yet?

But Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. When the man saw that he couldn’t defeat Jacob, he grabbed Jacob’s thigh and tore a muscle in Jacob’s thigh as he wrestled with him. The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”
(Gen. 32:34-26, CEB)

I have found my life to be a twisting journey where struggle comes far more easily than rest and resolve.

I am Jacob.

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