Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Soul Graffiti

Soul Graffiti is a book by Mark Scandrette, a book about making a life in the way of Jesus. What exactly, does that mean? That's the purpose and point of this book.

Mark is an effective storyteller, and that trait permeates this book. An open and honest discussion about how to live like Jesus is interwoven with stories of Mark and his family living among the poor and the disadvantaged in the mission district of San Francisco. What makes this book powerful are those stories, because they tell of action. This book is not about theory, about postulating, it's about living as Christ to those around us. I loved the story Mark recounted of moving into a house, of being gracious to those that had lived there before him, and then having the police come to his door saying "Do you realize what was going on in this house before you moved in?" Mark and his family did not seek to stay away from the decay of the city, they put themselves right in the middle of it.

While the stories give the book its power, there are some very engaging thoughts that I've been grappling with for a while. In a section titled "Tasting a World that is Alive with the Energy of God" Mark contrasts our modern society with an older agricultural community. "On Sundays after barn chores, they arrived at a building with mud on their feet to give thanks to God, seated next to neighbors with whom they had worked in fields during the week. Perhaps as they sang 'Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow' they called to mind a good heavy spring rain or the fruit of their fields set on their tables" Mark continues a paragraph or two later "In the hurried and technological society in which we live, we have to be more intentional about practices that help us recognize the goodness of God revealed in creation...We have lost our connection to the soil, our food sources, and the skill of making things with our hands."

Although a minor point in his book, I have been grappling with this since the day I first read it. We live in a world where we spend the week indoors, under fluorescent lights, and then on the weekends we want people to come to church to worship God indoors. How do we, as a church, help people reconnect with God the creator, with the God of the universe?

The conclusion of Mark's book, Enter the Jesus Dojo, is a bit of a letdown. I think that's because it in many ways is not really necessary. Mark leads by example through this book, and a chapter "wrapping things up" is really unnecessary. Mark has shown through his words and deeds what it means to live like Christ, and this book inspires the reader to do the same.


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