Friend of the Soul

friend of the soulJust this week I finished reading Friend of the Soul: A Benedictine Spirituality of Work by Norvene Vest. Vest is a spiritual director and author who focuses much of her work on Benedictine spirituality. I was looking for some more resources around vocation and calling as I develop a new course called The Religious Dimension of Work, so this work was recommended to me by Chris Smith of the Englewood Review of Books.

Who is this friend referred to in the book’s title? It is work. Through the Rule of St. Benedict, Vest offers that work is to be our friend, a friend of the soul. For me, this was a beautiful, fresh insight!

Not that I don’t already know that work is good and all work of all types can be done to the glory of God. But seeing work as our friend calls us to see it as something very personal, very intimate. Even more, rather than seeing work as something we simply deal with or, worse yet, despise, I have come to better appreciate work as our companion of the soul. Continue reading

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Death Comes for the Deconstructionist

death comes for the deconstructionist.jpgNot too long ago, I dove into Daniel Taylor’s award-winning novel, Death Comes for the Deconstructionist. This is my first of Taylor’s books to read. As the synopsis offers, the novel is a “tragicomic mystery, a detective story that is at once suspenseful, provocative, and emotionally resonant.”

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist tells the story of one Jon Mote, an older, divorced, grad school dropout who does private investigative work on a part-time basis. Many might identify Mote as your quintessential loser: divorced, jobless, friendless, living in a houseboat. I’m actually surprised that he is not presented as having some major alcohol addiction or something of the sort. Continue reading

Still Evangelical?

A new book hits shelves in just a few days: Still Evangelical?: Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning. I appreciate IVP sending a copy my way.

The book has multiple, respectable contributors:

  • Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Christians
  • Jim Daly, Focus on the Family
  • Mark Galli, Christianity Today
  • Lisa Sharon Harper, FreedomRoad.us
  • Tom Lin, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
  • Karen Swallow Prior, Liberty University
  • Soong-Chan Rah, North Park University
  • Robert Chao Romero, UCLA
  • Sandra Maria Van Opstal, Grace and Peace Community
  • Allen Yeh, Biola University
  • Mark Young, Denver Seminary

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The Voice of the Heart

Chip Dodd is a trained counselor who founded The Center for Professional Excellence and Sage Hill: A Social Impact Organization (the latter essentially a counseling center). As his website bio states, Dodd helps professionals in all walks of life gain recovery from addiction, depression, anxiety and other behavioral disorders.

Out of this focus, Chip Dodd has given us his most known work, The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living. In it he explores what he (and others) identifies as the eight core feelings: hurt, lonely, sad, anger, fear, shame, guilt, and glad. As he states in the preface:

“These eight core feelings are the beginning of the expression of all human emotional experience. From these core feelings we can expand the expression to name conditions of the heart such as awe, grief, envy, anxiousness, depression, revenge, delight, and boredom.” (XI)

Continue reading