Friday, May 13, 2011

"Stories that Feed Your Soul," by Tony Campolo

My book review of "Stories that Feed Your Soul'" by Tony Campolo, as a contributor of such for,

Stories have always been a medium used to capture the hearts and imaginations of listeners. I was first taught the doctrine of “incarnation” in seminary. This doctrine teaches that God became flesh in Jesus Christ in order to save us. No matter how true this doctrine and simple statement of fact is, the implications of it made little difference in my life because it remained lodged in my head, a tick box to check off in matters of faith, and never went deep down into my soul.

Contrast this with the story (as opposed to the doctrine) of “incarnation” and you have a much different outcome. The dry, abstract, truth statement of something God has done now becomes a lively, fresh, demonstrative reality that changes our lives. Story and narrative truth have a way of delivering us from a mental, cognitive assent that doesn’t change our lives or behavior s all that much into a life-altering, game-changing reality.

In Tony Campolo’s new book, “Stories that Feed Your Soul”, what we find is a bunch of unique, short stories designed to show us what happens when the sometimes abstract nature of God’s incarnation becomes “flesh and moves into the neighborhood”, as Eugene Peterson would say. I have always been fond of Campolo’s writings. He is a major mentor and influencer in the life of Shane Claiborne, who has in turn been a major influencer for me. Therefore, by default, I feel like his theological grandkid. So when I was asked to do a review on his book, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

In this book, Campolo uses an array of short stories that deliver some graphic implications of theological truths. Short stories on justice, love, mercy, and grace abound. He uses illustrations from old time saints of the faith from eras long ago, to contemporary illustrations including his own experiences. I believe he writes this book in such a way that you are supposed to read and digest a couple of these short stories in effort to hear what God is trying to speak to you through each one.

I highly recommend this book if you need a break from traditional, theological writings and need to hear fresh stories that put meat on theological convictions. It’s always good to know you are not alone…that your stories are similar stories of others being led by the same God….and that the reign of God’s Kingdom is indeed happening right here, right now through “small acts with great love”.

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