14 Apr Soul Graffiti – Book Review
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007, 248, $14.95; Paper
Reviewed by Barbara Mutch
Vice President Academic, Carey Theological College
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Through winsome stories, thought-provoking questions and the offer of engaging spiritual practices, Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus offers a fresh consideration of what it means to follow Jesus.
Mark Scandrette, minister, writer and fellow traveller, writes to people trying to re-imagine what it means to be Christian today. He writes for all those looking for a spiritual path that is more a way of life than merely a way to believe.
Scandrette seeks to provide an exploration of the essential message of Jesus (Mark 1:15). He then relates that message to the experience of contemporary persons, and guides readers to take action toward making a life in the way of Jesus. Scandrette compares the message and method of Jesus to graffiti, viewing them both as immediate, street level and personal, and believes that the good news Jesus proclaimed is deeply relevant for today if the real issues of people’s lives are acknowledged as part of the story.
In order to explore the message of the good news proclaimed through the words and deeds of Jesus, Scandrette organizes the book into four parts, each corresponding to one of four phrases from the introduction to the Gospel of Mark. Part One explores the context from which we encounter Jesus as a messenger. Part Two addresses issues about how we relate the good news of God to our time and place. Part Three investigates how the sacrifice of Jesus is related to the message of God’s reign. Part Four discusses how we might respond to the invitation to repent and believe the good news.
In addition, each part includes a chapter on praxis inspired by the four themes he sees evident in the life of Jesus. Jesus is pictured as a companion who lived with arms extended wide to all people, actively making friends with those who are despised. Jesus is painted as an artist possessing an awakened imagination for the immediacy of God’s kingdom, telling stories and acting prophetically to provoke and inspire those among whom he walked. As healer, Jesus is shown identifying with the sufferings of humanity, touching those who suffered, and advocating for the poor and the weak. And as mystic, Jesus is portrayed as one who lived with a constant awareness of the transcendent reality of God, and who accessed power to love through spiritual practices, including contemplative prayer, surrender, silence and solitude.