Some of the greatest frustrations of life on earth stem from our deep desire for those things that this life can never provide, which Erwin McManus identifies as the cravings of our soul. McManus, pastor of the Mosaic community in Los Angeles and author of Gold Medallion finalist AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE, sees our universal cravings as a search for identity, destiny and meaning, and he arranges SOUL CRAVINGS accordingly.
Each chapter in those three sections is labeled an "entry," an accurate description for writing that at times has the feel of a journal entry. Only with McManus, the writing is a cut above the way most of us would record our musings. He startles you every now and then with a sentence that you know you'll remember forever. One example, from Entry #13, Being Loved to Death, in reference to Jesus' encounter with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery (the "Let him who is without sin throw the first stone" passage): "If Jesus' encounter with this unnamed adulterous woman tells us anything," he writes, "it reveals the unexpected truth that the safest place for a sinful person to go is to God." We may already know that, we may in fact have known that for years, but we may never have thought to express it in that way --- describing God as the safest place for a sinner to go.
McManus's way with words may be the book's greatest strength. He's so good with words that it takes a while before you realize that you have no better idea of what to do with your unfulfilled soul cravings than you had before you read the book. It's like the way you feel after a profound and caffeine-laced philosophical discussion with a friend about the deeper issues of life. Neither one of you is any closer to understanding those deeper issues, but you feel better just knowing there's someone you can talk to on that level. The meaning of life, the nature of faith, the resiliency of the human spirit, the problem of evil, the value of doubting --- McManus thinks out loud about all this and more, providing us with a whole lot to think about on our own.
If there is an answer to be found in SOUL CRAVINGS, it is this: our cravings begin and end with God. Throughout, McManus reminds us that, ultimately, whatever it is that we crave most --- for instance, love --- is already available to us in our relationship with God. And trying to fill those cravings with anything other than God is not only futile but can also be destructive. He writes: "No matter what we become, it is never enough. Our souls always crave more. It's not because they're insatiable, but because we know there's more to be had." That "more" is a life of intimacy, destiny and meaning --- all of which can only be found in a life with God.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 14, 2006