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ss triple helix - winter 2003,  Genius, Grief and Grace (Book Review)

Genius, Grief and Grace (Book Review)

Genius, Grief and Grace - Gaius Davies - Christian Focus Publications 2001 - £8.99 Pb 383pp - ISBN 1 85792 630 7

The notion that personal pain can be productive is generally unpopular, but here Dr Gaius Davies shares his professional perceptions about eleven afflicted yet famous people. With names well known to a Christian readership their genius has not often been attributed to a common background of suffering.

Dr Davies traces the possible connections between famous accomplishment and bipolar mood swings (as for Lord Shaftsbury) or obsessive-compulsive traits (in John Bunyan) as well as other personality problems affecting great people. He tells us about three single women who came to fame: Christina Rosetti, Frances Ridley Havergal and Amy Carmichael and, at least in part, attributes their ultimate success to sublimation of otherwise unfilled sexuality, a rarely discussed possibility nowadays. The last chapter in the book is devoted to the life of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Perhaps the writer's personal relationship with his subject has made it harder for him to give quite the same orderly appraisal here as for the other ten, although for each and all he has sought to portray them 'warts and all.'

Running as a gold cord through the sometimes-dark passages of these eleven lives is their desire to love and serve God. The message that something good finally emerged from all their difficulties is, after all, the message of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said to each of them, as to us, 'Follow me'. It is a testimony to his grace that, like a skilled surgeon, he is able to use a selection of strangely shaped instruments to fulfil some of his complex operations.

The occasional misprints and poor quality paper should not detract from a book to encourage all those who work with, or suffer from, disturbed personalities. It clearly illustrates that our weaknesses can be a channel for Christ's strength.

Reviewed by
Janet Goodall
retired Consultant Paediatrician and former CMF President

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