Cover Image: Soul Care in African American Practice

Soul Care in African American Practice

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Member Reviews

This book focused a lot on different spiritual disciplines in the context of African American history. I really loved the chapters on spiritual direction. For some, it may be discipleship, for others they are mentors and elders. There is much talk on prayer and reading your bible, but not too much on seeking the wisdom of wise counsel. It was enjoyable and had a nice structure.
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In Soul Care in African American Practice, Barbara Peacock retraces the history of spiritual practices among the Africana community, with an emphasis on spiritual direction and soul care.
The book's preface/introduction serve as a contextualization of the rest of the book. Rightfully so, Peacock points out that many figures of Christian tradition and spirituality have been of African descent : starting with major church fathers, like Tertullian, Augustine, and Athanasius, but also biblical characters (e.g, the Egyptian narratives from the Old Testament).
Note : a large portion of this chapter seems guided by ideas articulated in another book, [Beyond the Suffering : Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction]( by R.W. Kellemen and K.A. Edwards. Readers would probably benefit from the context presented in Beyond the Suffering since Barbara Peacock cites it so heavily in her introductory material -- though it is by no means a prerequisite for reading Soul Care.
The rest of the book explores the lives of 10 major figures of Africana Christian spirituality. Beginning with Frederick Douglass, these include Martin Luther King, Howard Thurman, and others. Each portrait is accompanied by an examination of a specific spiritual practice. But these chapters turn out to be more celebratory, rather than analytical : these are clearly figures that have influenced and inspired Peacock, though little insight is gleaned from these biographies, and most of them merely serve as an illustration for a particular discipline (rather than a demonstration).
At the end of each chapter, there is a section for reflection - with questions, a visio divina, and prayer material. The visual content throughout the book appears to reflect the author's appreciation and gratitude for visual arts as means of spiritual encounter and reflection - and, to me, were truly friends of the soul as I read and engaged with the material. I've rarely found such abundant use of diverse media for engagement and reflection in spirituality books, and it was a tremendous gift to have these accompany me in my reading of Soul Care.
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