Thinking of You: A resource for the spiritual care of people with dementia
- BRF, 2017, £9.99, 256pp ISBN: 9780857464910
- Reviewed by Cameron Swift, Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine, based in Kent
The topic of dementia is rightly high on today's public policy agenda. Christian health professionals and churches should be at the forefront of radical understanding, progressive thought and involvement.
This exceptional paperback is by an experienced specialist neuropsychologist now engaged in full time Anglican ministry. It is presented in straightforward language accessible to any thoughtful 'lay' (including medical generalist) readership. As such, it provides a rare and original contemporary resource for Christian clinicians and churches.
Section one addresses core perception (and misperception) of the phenomenon - biomedical, stereotypical, sociological and prejudicial. There follows a clear account of this defined neurological syndrome; pathogenetic basis; pros and cons of early (vs timely) diagnosis; neurobiology of subtypes; - in clear accessible language. The challenges to societal attitudes, relationships, networks, social and healthcare provision are then presented.
Psychological elements are focused on in section two. Memory categories and their potential impact on personal identity, moves on to the application of a Christian perspective - God as creator, sustainer and loving redeemer.
The other half of the book looks at spiritual care and is a valuable blend of neuropsychological expertise and Christian application. It delivers practical, informed advice and challenge to churchs and care providers.
Essential, contemporary, helpful and challenging reading for all health professionals, church ministry teams, and individuals encountering those with dementia.
The Curious Incident of a Boy's Transformation
Helping a child on the autistic spectrum
- Condeo Press, 2016, £6.99, 168pp, ISBN: 9780997120424
- Reviewed by Steven Fouch,CMF Connections Manager
I wish this book had been around when my son was diagnosed with Asperger's. Debbie Lovell's approach is open, honest, often humorous, and never less than engaging. In short, bite-sized chapters she tells the story of discovering her son's autism, coming to terms with the reality, and dealing with all the trials and challenges. From food to schooling, to finding a church in which a child on the autistic spectrum could feel at home, Lovell deals frankly and from her own experiences, of what life throws at families in this situation. I could relate to it all. But what makes this book so helpful is that every mountain is shown to be a hill. Full of hope, practical advice and links to further resources, this is a useful book to share with anyone struggling to support a child on the autistic spectrum.
If I have one criticism, it's that for many families with profoundly autistic children, the outlook is not always as positive and upbeat as Lovell shows. But one can only write from one's own experience, and hers certainly chimes with mine.
A Life Worthwhile: the story of Aaron
- Onwards and Upwards, £8.99, 75pp, ISBN: 9781788156851
- Reviewed by John Martin, CMF Head of Communications
Here is a moving account of the life of Aaron, profoundly disabled, and permanently damaged from injuries inflicted by his heroin-addicted father. He was classified as having PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties).
John Mollitt, a pastor, and his wife Pat, fostered and eventually adopted Aaron. A paediatrician told them, 'He will never be able to thank you for any thing you do.' The couple profoundly disagreed. John writes, 'We mean it when we say that he gave us far more than we could ever have given him.' He became a catalyst for hope and joy wherever he was seen with the Mollitts on the streets of Skipton, Settle and Ingleton.
Aaron was with the Mollitts six months before he was seen to smile. He suffered from cerebral palsy, scoliosis, was blind, unable to speak, doubly incontinent and could not feed or care for himself. Pat Mollitt, gave herself without reserve to Aaron's care, as the author observes, and acquired medical knowledge parallel to the professionals who cared for him. He received a tailored school experience based on the National Curriculum. Aaron was not expected to live beyond ten, but lived to 28.
The author does not mask the complexities and sheer weariness of caring for a profoundly disabled person. But here is testimony to the joy and satisfaction of taking to heart the teaching of Jesus.
- Hansel Press Limited, 2017, £7.50, 150pp, ISBN: 9781871828986
- Reviewed by Peter Pattisson OBE, based in Hampshire
Jim Parratt is a distinguished Scottish physiologist with wide international experience. He is a CMF member with strong links in Scotland to UCCF and Scripture Union. The book contains 19 chapters of varying length, exploring basic human physiology and the spiritual parallels from a biblical perspective.
The longest and central chapter describes blood and circulation - reflecting perhaps the author's professional interest as well as the theological importance of blood. But there is an unfortunate reference error on page 74.
Doctors will be familiar with most of the physiology described and most Christians will have made at least some of the spiritual and biblical connections. The strength of the book is that it brings together, within a manageable space, a wealth of material, both scientific and biblical, with a host of Bible references.
Who will it help? A Christian teenager discovering his/her own body, especially if studying biology at GCSE or A levels. (I gave my copy to a 16-year-old for his birthday). A recently converted medical student trying to integrate his studies with his new-found faith. It would also make a useful resource for a Bible study leader or as the framework for a series of talks at a Christian camp or house party. Recommended.