Yancey acknowledges that many spiritual seekers find few answers and little solace in the institutional church. "I have met many people, and heard from many more, who have gone through a similar process of mining truth from their religious past: Roman Catholics who flinch whenever they see a nun or priest, former Seventh Day Adventists who cannot drink a cup of coffee without a stab of guilt, Mennonites who worry whether wedding rings give evidence of worldliness."
How did Yancey manage to survive spiritually despite early encounters with a racist, legalistic church that he now views as almost cultic? In this, his most soul-searching book yet, he probes that very question. He tells the story of his own struggle to reclaim belief, interwoven with inspiring portraits of notable people from all walks of life, whom he calls his spiritual directors. Soul Survivor is his tribute to 13 remarkable individuals, mentors who transformed his life and work.
©2001 Philip Yancey; (P)2001 Random House Inc., Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Random House Inc.
Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey is written for those of us who have sometimes struggled with institutionalized religion. I thought it would be a lot of commiserating about the challenges of being part of a Christian church, but instead Yancey chose to write chapters about the 13 people who most inspired him and helped him see what a real religious life looks like. People covered in these mini-biographies include Martin Luther King, Jr., Annie Dillard, Feodor Dostoevsky, Mahatma Gandhi, John Donne, and Shusaku Endo. Strongly recommend it!
Christianity comes under attack because of the gross failures and hypocrisy of those who often go out of the way to boldly claim that Christianity is true. This book isn't going to "win" a skeptic who already concludes that the hypocrisy of those who often stand in the media's spotlight as representing "true Christianity". This book does give that skeptic and people who are wondering if there is any credible faith worth believing something to ponder, a counter-balance to those who seem to promote, and enjoy promoting every serious flaws in people of this faith as justification for rejecting this faith. Yancey is honest, transparent, and doesn't white-wash anyone's failures. However, Yancey does provide context, important context, that anyone who is willing to extend their "open-mindedness" into staying open to Christianity, despite adherents whose gross failures undermine this faith's credibility. The first chapter on Martin Luther King alone is worth the price of this book.
"Soul Survivor" is a great book, worthwhile of time invested to read, regardless of whether you believe or do not believe the Christian message. Thanks Philip for another honest look at a topic in a way few others would even approach. Doug Ehrlich
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