Swimming Pigeons: Community well-being and the role of the church

 

Shocking though it may sound, there are some things that probably will not be. For example, and relevant to our unusual title, pigeons do not usually swim. In this book, Lorna H Murray brings us many stories from her long experience, and one of them is of a small boy who desired that pigeons swim like ducks. But of course his desire was irrelevant and the pigeons refused to conform!

So it is with much of life. We can hear stories of miracles and I believe they can happen - "for the Bible tells me so". But what do we do when the miracles are not happening? And (this is the rub) which does more for the life of our communities and church: a few scattered miracles or a society that loves everyone - even the pigeons who refuse to conform?

There has been an awful lot written about spirituality and mental health - and most of it is unintelligible to the average person. This book uses personal stories to start each chapter - moving on to give some background, raises some points for discussion and then encourages reflection. It illustrates practically how the church and Christian communities can help people be themselves and release what they have to offer. It shows what can happen when a person can truly start their identity as "in Christ" rather than based on how other people see or value them. It humbles us by showing what we "able bodied and sane" people so often get wrong.

Written by a mental health Chaplain who is also a Methodist Minister, it contains so many pearls of wisdom that I lost track of the number of times I wanted to cry out 'Yes'! I have never done that when reading a more academic text on similar topics. This is a book for the 'everyman', but will also be of great value to those who work in this area professionally.

If the book has a drawback, it is that it is published in India and only available by international post or very niche bookshops. It is not available on the usual internet bookshops. However, ISPCK will ship internationally and the delay will not be a problem for the kind of person who will enjoy this book. It is a rich and delightful meal, to be savoured over many sittings.

Available in the UK from Kindle on Amazon - or by post from india: order online from http://ispck.org.in/viewbook_info.php?pkid=828 - price about £10 / $16 (NB: we have had some reports of this site not taking all UK cards.)

[reviewed on behalf of ACTS by Dr Rob Waller, Consultant Psychiatrist]
Lorna H Murray, 17/05/2013