My Crabb-y thoughts (from archive)

(DATE: December 1, 2007)

In my Integrative Seminar class at Bethel Seminary, I’ve been assigned to read “Connecting: Healing for Ourselves and Our Relationships” by Larry Crabb.

(yes, that’s where the cheezy title of this blog comes from.)

I thought I’d post some of my thoughts about this book here, since I had to write a response paper to the book. If you’ve not read Connecting, I’d HIGHLY recommend it. It’s an excellent collection of practical insights on how to truly engage in soul-care.

One of the points that Crabb makes is that some approaches to theology don’t integrate well with spiritual formation. In other words, there are some methods of trying to be “spiritual” that don’t make it easy to actually live by the Spirit.

You see, when a theological dogma requires its adherents to toe the party line without a critical examination of why a particular belief is held, it causes the inner life to shrink; it puts up boundaries to ensure that one remains within “orthodoxy”. These boundaries don’t tend to encourage spiritual grown, but rather retard it.

I know this from experience; I’ve not only rescued people from that kind of emotionally/spiritually repressive environment, I’ve had to work in it. I didn’t fit there well at all.

Something you, dear blog reader, must realize is that Crabb is a licensed psychologist. There’s a lot in his books about psychotherapy and counseling. However, THIS book marks a pretty significant departure from traditional therapy techniques. Connecting isn’t just a Christian-psychology-self-help book; Crabb is calling for a pretty crucial change. Keep in mind that I don’t think he’s being too hard on traditional therapy; I think he’s calling for a new purpose for both the church (to pay attention to soul-care) and for the therapeutic disciplines (to specialize in areas involving physical, learning, or psychological technique, as per page 204, in appendix B in my edition).

I have to say, however, that as much as I appreciated the book, I felt a little weird reading it. As I stated in my paper:

“I evaluate Crabb’s vision of soul-healing as an outsider. I read his descriptions of events of the inner life, and I underline them in my book. But I don’t often resonate with his explanations. I like them, I just don’t know how I can replicate them in my own life and ministry. In reading this book, I recognize that I’m going to need to have my wife read it, and my senior pastor read it, and perhaps a few other people. Then I’ll need to talk with them about it, looking for points of intersection between their responses with the material and my own. I can appreciate the need for empathy in Crabb’s description of ‘connecting’, but I hardly ever feel it myself; I try to have empathetic people around me who can tell me when I’m ‘getting it’, and when I’m not. I am sure that ‘Connecting’ for me will have to become a learned skill, not an emotional response to someone else’s need.”

I’d also like to point out that one of the reasons I *do* appreciate this book is for its pictographic representations of concepts. I really appreciated his diagram on page 132, where he describes the life in the flesh vs. the life in the spirit. Since I often think in pictures, this really helped me understand the process he was describing.

Perhaps someday, someone will come out with a Bible that has flowcharts embedded in its pages just like study bibles have character synopses, outlines, and maps. That would be helpful…

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