My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I rate Soulful Spirituality an “only ok” rating. I read and learned some good things. My big take away was the comparison of “soul” to “spirit” in Benner’s work. Soul is the grounding of who we are; Spirit is the expression or energy or passion we express. I thought that was a neat way to look at things – that we need health in both our grounding, in who we are, as well as health in the way we express life.
Another part I appreciated about Benner’s work was the concept and reminder that we are constantly becoming. We’re not static. This present moment is the moment of life and becoming alive. Very psychologically and spiritually true. After finishing Benner’s book, I feel like I’m left wondering how he would really describe a fully alive life. Alive to what? Awake to who? Self? God? The Other? I’d like to explore that more with him.
I’ve rated the book the way I have because I believe a true and healthy spirituality is driven by God’s Spirit as it courses through us. To me, Benner’s work seemed more about an individual realizing him/herself toward awareness and seemed, by the writing, to be possible without the Spirit or much needed involvement of God at all – as if God were out somewhere in space just waiting for us to realize ourselves toward him as our end-goal destination. I believe the center of action in the spiritual life resides in God in whom we live and move and have our being as we’re animated to become awake, alive, and somehow able to be poured out.
While I appreciate the mention of spiritual vibrancy and find much of Benner’s writing to be very psychologically helpful and good, I’m still personally left wondering at the end of the book what, in the author’s words, is a true and living spirituality and what does Jesus have to do with it? How does life come to us from God and course through us? Or, is the spiritual life like Benner writes, that our lives are about a coming awake to an already present, yet strangely unknowable (my take on Benner’s book) God? I deeply agree with the attentiveness and coming awake part. But, I do wish I could hear more from Benner about what Jesus, the path and call of discipleship, including the call to “die to self, rise in Christ,” have to do with the book. I imagine a conversation like that with this guy would be very enlightening.