Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Review: Soul Print By Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson is an eternal optimist.

This thought first occurred to me about 20 pages into Soul Print: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, Batterson's latest book. Ironically, a few pages later Batterson describes a life-defining episode - his first professional football game - and declares, "I am an irrepressible optimist." That quality makes for a very enjoyable read.

Batterson's obvious passion for people and his engaging, concise writing style combine to flavor Soul Print with concepts and ideas that will resonate with those who are familiar with the self-help style of Oprah or Dr. Phil. His personal reflections give credence to his ideas, as he lays out evidence of how his own experiences and the influence of others contributed in both positive and negative ways to the formation of his character and personality. However, the personal stories are merely anectdotal. Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC, weaves these personal stories with cultural, historical and Biblical references into what must have been (or will be) terrific sermons ideas into five "scenes" or chapters, each dealing with internal or external influences that impact human destiny.

The book is unflinching in its foundational perspective that God's personal interaction with people creates the possibility of change; redemption, restoration, growth and understanding. For those who live outside the Christian mainstream, the spiritual emphasis might be a deterrent. But Batterson's enthusiastic passion for his subject matter - the physical, spiritual and emotional health of the reader - gently nudges us to drop our guard and believe that this guy just might really know what he's talking about. Batterson paints a picture of a loving, grace-filled God who wants the best for the people He created.

It's hard to resist.

Some of this book reads like the latest "Live your best life" mantra. In a discussion of life symbols, Batterson says, "It's not our experiences that make us or break us. It's our interpretation of and explanation for those experiences...that will either empower you or debilitate you. They can be a catalyst for change or they can be as imprisoning as iron bars...You can't change the past, but you can learn from it. And that's how you change the future." Nothing new here; any respectable life coach will tell you the same thing. The difference, and the compelling reason to read this book, lies in Batterson's skillful integration of this psychological reality with spiritual and scriptural resources, all presented in a style carefully honed by weekly presentations of similar messages to his church audience.

This book captivated me from the start. I presume a bit of bias here, as I found so much of the content relevant - either on a very personal level, or in the lives of those around me. But the challenge to drill deeply and consider fresh perspectives unearths a hopeful path towards a better life - an authentic and "divine" destiny - that undoubtedly resonates with the majority of the human population.

Most of us want the best life we can live. Soul Print offers real, effective direction. Mark Batterson has delivered his best book yet.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. However, I have already pre-purchased another copy for myself and will recommend it to most everyone I encounter in the near future. It's worth it.

1 comment:

Brandee Shafer said...

Looking forward to reading it. Ended up liking Batterson's Wild Goose book more than I expected. My favorite thing about it was his picking out things from scripture (signs following, Abraham in the tent, Peter's recommissioning)that I'd previously overlooked. Does he do that sort of thing in _Soul Print_? Also, have you read his first (Snowy Lion, or whatever) book?