I have read many books in 2017. There were many good thought-provoking, stirring the pot books to come out this past year. Then, there were a number of books I read this past year that were written before 2017.
I don't recall selecting a book of the year before but this year I couldn't resist: Stephen Cope's Soul Friends: The Transforming Power of Deep Human
Connection stands out in my mind, head and shoulders above everything else. And that's saying something because I have read great books in 2017!
I have read many books about friendships. Books expounding on friendship by theologians. Pastors writing about friendships. Books by psychologists, sociologists, historians, and philosophers on friendship throughout the years. Some of these books have some nuggets of gold in them. Some of them great stories.
If I were pressed to choose the best five books on friendship I have ever read or think others should read, Cope's Soul Friends would easily make that list. I believe it would make it into the top three books on friendship I have ever read or would want someone to read if they were curious about deep connection in cross-gender friendship.
Yes, Soul Friends resonated with me that much!
If I were teaching a class on spiritual friendship, this would be required reading even though its not primarily a book about spiritual friendship. I think what Cope does in Soul Friends is similar to what Thomas Moore did in Soul Mates. The powerful magic in Cope's work is that he explores profound human deep connection in friendship and he keeps it there. Deep psychology is applied to friendship. Friendship in this book, is not a runner-up to soul mates; friendship is not a consolation prize to "real love" in romantic connection.
At least part of my motive in suggesting that this would be a required text in a spiritual friendship class is my own reaction to seeing so many evangelicals writing on friendship staying at the end of the shallow pool in applying psychology to friendship. At least one of the mistakes well meaning pastors, leaders, theologians make in promoting the "Mike Pence rule" (never be alone with a member of the opposite sex) is their assumption that knowledge of human nature requires us to stay at the end of shallow part of the pool for us to know peaceful attunement, safety, well-being, and harmony.
Cope takes us into the deep end of the pool. He applies depth psychology to friendship. We would all live in a better world with friends at this end of the pool.
"Soul Friendships are the crucible in which we are evoked, created, affirmed, sustained, and transformed. Our relationships with our Soul Friends are the containers, the sparks, and the fuel required for psychological and spiritual development.
These special kinds of relationships can be brief and powerful, or long and sustained; they can exist across long distances and over vast spans of time; they can be highly charged connections within the family—parents, grandparents, siblings—or they can be friendships or relationships at school or at work. "