Book review of: Soul Feast: an invitation to the Christian spiritual life, Knox press, 1995
Author: Marjorie Thompson
closer look at what it means to be Spiritual and how to develop awareness and
spiritual health, in an attempt to rediscover a Godly self-consciousness, which
filters through all aspects of life.
Thompson’s treatment of the Spiritual Discussion provides another interesting perspective, on the various topics deemed important and worthwhile, by a slue of previous writers. It is
written in simple form and fashion, which makes reading easy and renders topics
well distinguished, yet uncomplicated to follow, with regard to the general
In her introduction, she makes no bold statements of the profound nature of the book, nor expected revolutions in thinking, about spirituality. She confesses that it is written from her own individual perspective, and invites those who are actively searching and hungry
for knowing more, to benefit from this book. So, this is based on some
experience and in her mind, should lead to small, if not great changes, for
anyone who takes the book serious. It is also refreshing to know before hand,
that one has admitted firstly, that there are a lot of books of this nature on
the market, yet seek to address the topic, using a more personal approach,
which seekers could readily relate to.
Regarding structure, we see well envisioned themes heading up each section, setting parameters for ensuing discussion. Much of the material takes into consideration past traditions , in terms of spiritual disciplines and thought, along with how they have changed
and what is the present results, enclothed in our modern day practice. In this
way, the topic of spirituality is not just isolated in a modern framework, but
is considered through the development of time. This has been very helpful in
illustrating past and present ideas, while moving into discussions, on how we
could learn from them, in order to formulate a future picture, of how we want
or need to practice spiritual discipline.
In her discussion, she hardly includes unnecessary information. Most of what she discusses (from prayer, introspective views of self and so on), are pertinent to any discussion on
spirituality. They are also, not just passively, mentioned. For instance, her
treatment of prayer and the approaches thereof, take into consideration our
relationship to God, to ourselves and to each other-thus, Spirituality helps
you get ready to live in complementing relationships, in contrast to
manipulative, contractual based relations, which tarnishes the picture of humans,
formed in the imago dei.
An excellent chapter which further illustrates, this has to do with Hospitality. It seems like such a common and simple theme, yet it is very instrumental, in getting away from the alienating western world, wherein no one has time or space for anyone in their lives. In
this way, her topics bring a touch of reality to the reader, making the information relative and easily identified with.
Another excellent feature of her presentation has to do with the definitions of “spiritual” and “discipline”, she offers. Indeed there are many different types of definitions for spirituality, yet she brings another, which really translates well in a contemporary society .it may seem a bit romanticized, yet it conveys the message in good fashion. Also, in
reference to Discipline, she does well to remind the reader, that discipline
does not conotate punishment, but relates more to the steadfast pursuit of
something good. This also shows that she is aware of the mechanics of
understanding and so, seeks to share information, which communicates well.
In light of negatives, I found treatment of fasting a good portrayal, yet with the benefits of fasting smartly, one does not hear that some, who have serious health issues, might not even be able to try the least actions, under this discipline. She does however; offer other
ways of expression and reflection, by the mention of keeping journals, as your
experience in the disciplines grow.
On a final note, the idea of “spiritual directors” seemed a bit rigid. Maybe another terms such as “mentors’, could be used, which people readily recognize with. That’s understandable, given that many writers seek to be original with concepts and so on.
In a nutshell, a good book, for a beginner, who is inquisitive about the subject of spirituality and a useful supplemental read, for those who seek different perspectives, to broaden their understanding of the disciplines.