Tag Archives: Book Reviews by Bill Dahl

Soul Graffiti – Making A Life In The Way of Jesus by Mark Scandrette

Soul Graffiti – Making A Life In The Way of Jesus


Editor’s One of the Best Books I’ve Read  Award

Scandrette, Mark SOUL GRAFFITI – Making A Life In The Way Of Jesus Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, San Francisco, CA Copyright 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

An Epic, Emerging Way Contribution

One of my difficulties with the emerging church movement is that I can’t find enough stories about people who are actually living what they say they yearn for. The “conversation” and the “dialogue” seemingly take precedence with many who yearn for a way of life with Jesus on this planet, in this lifetime that is somehow more meaningful than their former spiritual practices, relationships, affiliations and beliefs have delivered.

Mark Scandrette’s book, SOUL GRAFFITI – Making A Life In The Way Of Jesus is a first, hopefully not last, model of what’s been missing, addressing the fundamental concern I expressed above. Jossey-Bass should be congratulated for their foresight in producing this work as part of A Living Way: Emergent Visions Series. Soul Grafitti is a superbly crafted work that profiles what it really means to live the emergent way…this is footprints in the sand with a real live human being attached to those feet, holding your hand, stirring your soul, tugging at your heart — walking you through life today, the emergent way — Making A Life in The Way of Jesus. As Mark says, “As important as conversation is, it is stillborn if it doesn’t eventually lead to common action. In our fragmented society it is too easy to have discussions about problems and how we wish things could be different without making a commitment to work together to see change occur” (p. 56).

The term ‘vision’ typically contains a dimension that allows one to do, feel and believe that which you had heretofore been unable to experience on your own. ‘Vision’ provides elements of power, persuasion, passion and permission to move beyond where you presently find yourself in your spiritual journey. Mark Scandrette unselfishly shares his journey with us, weaving the ‘vision’ so many in the emergent movement have been so desperately yearning to visualize. I am humbled, grateful and awed by the bountiful, multi-dimensional contribution of this work. – it is unequivocally bountimensional. Visionary, yet practically essential for our times.

From a critical standpoint, the first 100 pages were a bit slow and somewhat redundant for me. Don’t skip the first hundred pages. After that, the book increasingly picked up momentum. That was my only complaint. The contemplation/action sections at the end of each chapter provide individuals and groups a superb resource for practical experimentation with growing into a life in the way of Jesus. (I hope Jossey-Bass will consider a separate ‘journey book supplement’ to the actual book that people can take with them during the week to ponder, relish and act upon). The psalms, Scripture, poems and people that Mark shares are precious. He is truly a companion, artist, healer and mystic led by Jesus today.

This book will not be without the anticipated critical backlash from those threatened by the emergent movement. However, one of the blessings of this book is the ‘Jesus dojo’ defined by Mark in the final pages of the book. Wondering what the “theology” of ‘this (Mark) emergent’ is, read Chapter 15 in Soul Graffiti. Of course, there is discussion of a number of theological constructs that are bound to elicit howls from those who really don’t understand the emerging church. There is the “opt-in/opt-out” stuff (p.87) that Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor illuminated in their recent book. There are distinctions about doing v. believing, good news vs. the gospel, doing v. being, intellectual assent v. actual behavior, and a myriad of other issues that will provide fodder for the cannons of the critics. However, in my opinion, all the controversy is overshadowed by the overpowering truth of a boundless love and endless compassion, as evidenced by Mark’s life…a life we must admire…a transformed, being transformed, Christ centered life available to all.

One of the most common criticism’s of George Barna’s book entitled ‘Revolution,’ (Tyndale House, Fall 2005) was from people wondering “where are they, these revolutionaries Barna is speaking about?” Well, read Mark Scandrette’s book, SOUL GRAFFITI – Making A Life In The Way Of Jesus – you’ll meet one. Learn to reimagine making your life in the way of Jesus. The choice is yours. Indispensable fare. Buy the book. You’ll be indelibly infected for the better. I have been.

I needed this book. Jesus tattooed my soul with this book. May Christ continue to change my life as Mark has modeled. The milepost literary work I have been looking for in the emergent way.

Thank you Mark (and Sheryl…and Tony).

Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott

Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts On Faith

Anne Lamott is essential reading. Schizoid, insecure, funny, earthy — compelling. A master storyteller. Riveting spiritual insights derived from the raw soul that has learned it the real way… through the complexities of life. Consider some of the dfollowing to whet your appetite:

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” p. 143

“I understand just enough about life to understand that I do not understand much of anything.” p. 75.

‘Not forgiving is like drinking rat posion and then waiting for the rat to die.” p. 134.

I needed to read this book. Now, I’m going to read another of Anne’s works.

A Whole New Mind – Moving From The Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel Pink

A Whole New Mind – Moving From The Information Age to the Conceptual Age

Although copyrighted in 2005, this book is a terribly important work for those interested in the present-future. It is a textbook for creativity. It’s one that has important implications for the spiritual life as well. Essential for the home or office library.

Spotting The Sacred – Noticing God in the Most Unlikely Places

I read this book in January 2007…I know it will be in my top 10 for all of 2007…no question about it. Bruce Main is a superb story teller who has the uncanny gift of combining stories of a servant’s life (his) with faith truths that ONLY one who has lived them is able to share.

The following quote really captures the essential essence of this book for me:

“Sure, Jesus used words to teach His disciples about loving God and loving their neighbor. But consistently we see Him making a point of finding ordinary people who put His teachiongs into practice, then using those people to illustrate His truths. Jesus knew the difference between words and the implementation of words.” p. 199.

This book will not only challenge your beliefs, it will challenge your way of living. It illuminates the pathway through the narrow gate.