9780310275961r1Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Have you ever asked yourself, “Self, what am I made of?” If you take away both your mind and body today (well, this is for an illustration, so bear with it if you are uncomfortable), what is left of “you” is your soul. Do you know what it looks like? I’ll bet if it were lying bare naked on the side of the road, you’d drive right by it.

Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You is an extended conversation on the critical elements of the soul. Split into three major sections, Ortberg discusses the soul’s content, the soul’s needs, and the soul’s restoration. The author leans heavily on his experiences and friendship with Christian philosopher Dallas Willard. In this tribute to his friend and mentor, Ortberg writes that the taking care of the soul is integral to human happiness because our bodies are equally divided between soul, mind, body—if one piece of ourselves is not whole, then the other pieces will not function properly either.

Souls are the most neglected aspect of our physical bodies. They reside so deeply within us that most people never get in touch with their own soul–very sad indeed. A person’s soul thrives when it is nourished and fed, which can only happen when a person is in perfect peace with God. Sin, dark thoughts, hatred, and bitterness towards others take our souls away from the nourishing hand of God, and leave us empty, angry, and unbalanced. Evilness, wickedness, false pride, and deception are all soul stealers. We can do better, but how?

People develop unhealthy habits over time that steal joy and rob the soul. The author assures us that when we surrender to God’s way, and really do it, we gain a perfect peace in our mind, body, and soul. This puts our souls back in balance and sets us straight. Will we sin (and daily)? Yes, we certainly will. But if we are truly trying to be better and do better, our hearts will align with our souls, and one day the two will touch in a better place.

My favorite part in the discussion is that we do not need more willpower to change our lives for the better–we need to make new life habits. This is true, at least for me. If I do work on myself daily, the days will balance out to help me become less sinful in my long run.

I recommend this book for a Bible study group or a book club since it will likely spur many interesting conversations.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Zondervan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.