I have continued to read Larry Crabb’s Soul Talk. This post is a bit awkward for me because I have made an effort on this blog to focus on articulating what I do believe, rather than on focusing on disagreements. But I have also made an attempt to be honest and as transparent as possible.
Having said that, I still find Crabb’s major purpose in this book to be very profound and exciting. However, over the last several chapters I have been disappointed in the direction he has been moving in. In chapters 5-8, I think the word he has used most often is “battle.” The imagery is fairly violent, talking about entering a war zone, fighting a battle, etc. I think Crabb uses this to highlight how much is at stake in the way we converse with one another. I agree completely with this premise. However, I think of my task as more subversive than one of declaring war. My hope is to shift conversations so that before people know it they are speaking out of the deepest desires of their souls, rather than the superficial things that prevent people, and God, from really getting in.
I may be reading too much into this, but I also sense more dualism than I am comfortable with. It almost feels gnostic to me at times. Again, I sense that for Crabb this is because he is writing out of some very powerful personal experiences he has had that are based in his relationship with God. So, my criticism here may be off base.
One final thing I just have to get off my chest. This is possibly the loudest, ugliest book cover I have ever seen! (I say this mostly as a joke, because I now know first hand that authors have essentially zero say in what the cover of their book looks like. But Thomas Nelson, what were you thinking? If I am blinded by the cover, I can’t see to read the book.) You can judge for yourself by looking at the currently reading list to the right.
There is still much that I am connecting with. For example, Crabb writes, “We’re beginning to realize that the journey is not about getting our act together in prayer retreats or counseling sessions or anyplace else; it’s about dropping our masks and facing the terror of living in a world without solutions to our biggest problems and then seeing that we belong in a different world. Then wholeness sneaks up on us” (64). This quote has the gnostic/dualism I already alluded to, but it also makes a good point – as he says elsewhere, we often put second things first.
Crabb writes, “Lodged deep in his soul is the basic agenda of Adam’s children: I want to do something that will make my life better.
Lodged deep in his soul is the basic agenda of God’s children: I want to experience God through whatever means he provides and keep trusting him whether life gets better of not” (74).
Again, I think Crabb helps point out the tension that we face between wanting to be in control, and wanting to know and love God. This is a major strength, Crabb refuses to allow us to settle for a superficial relationship with God. He wants us to go deeper.
I think Crabb sums up the Fall pretty well on p. 78, “He convinced creatures who were designed to enjoy free love from God and to love God and other in return that there was something better: control.” At least for me, that was a powerful reminder of how often I am wrestling control of my life away from God.
Finally, here is another great summary of what Crabb speaks to that really connects with me, “We desire to speak out of our depths into the depths of another, to speak with life-arousing power to other people” (108). Amen! I have found that to be the most meaningful, alive, intimate, and fulfilling experience I can have with another person. It is hard, but an incredible blessing.
I am hoping that Crabb is going to get a bit more concrete in the second half of the book in giving more practical advice about how to move from what he refers to as SelfTalk into SoulTalk.