Soul Keeping is an interesting book. While it is largely about what the title suggests, it is also largely about John Ortberg’s evolving relationship with Dallas Willard. John talks as much about Dallas, I think, as he does about the soul. But it’s all relevant conversation, as Dallas Willard had much to say about the soul and its relationship with God.
I have to confess that I have not thought a lot about my soul. At least until I read this book. I find that I’m thinking more about it, now, even to the point of having conversations with my own soul.
Don’t call the men in the white coats, just yet.
One thing that is learned from this book is a definition of the soul. Most people believe that they have a soul, but few would be able to define or explain it, if you pressed them. I’m still not sure I could adequately do so, but, my understanding, after reading this, is that the soul is considered to be the “operating system” of the human being. It’s not the same thing as the spirit, nor is it the same as the heart (and I’m referring to the spiritual understanding of “heart,” not the physical one).
There is a wonderful story at the beginning of this book that illustrates the importance of the soul. It has to do with a mountain stream that provided clean, fresh water for a town. There was a man, who lived up in the mountains, close to that stream, who kept the stream clean. He was paid by the town. One day, the town decided that it could no longer afford to pay this man, whom they hardly ever saw, to do this job. So he stopped.
The stream began to get dirty. It began to get clogged by branches, leaves, and other forms of refuse. The town’s water got dirty. It wasn’t fresh any more and began to smell. People began to get sick. The town council got together again and decided that they could, in fact, find resources to pay the man again. So he started working on the stream again.
Eventually, the stream became clean again. The “keeper of the stream” did his job, and the town was revived.
The stream is your soul, and you are its keeper.
John Ortberg has a wonderful writing style that is unpretentious and even entertaining. Admittedly, he gets a little silly, at times, but I don’t mind. He is much easier to understand than Dallas Willard, and manages to communicate some of the same truths. His homage to Willard is moving, to the point that I was in tears as the book concluded. Which is bad, because I was driving. Remember? I was listening to it on Audible.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the condition/state of their soul, which could very well be the most important part of you.