Frankie Fisher gives the verdict on the Good Faith Book Club's discussion of Courage for the Discouragedby Simon Lawton".
"At the beginning, Simon Lawton says that this book is not for anyone suffering clinical depression. There are people who might be helped by it, those perhaps who hold a more literalist view of the Bible, but most of us were not in that number. However, sometimes the best discussions come when we disagree with a book and try to work out why. This was just such an occasion.
We all found the beginning of this book harder to read than the second part. The author's use of Scripture was not always helpful for us, using references to Joshua for example, when not many of us are fighting wars. He scatters Bible references with little thought as to their original context and its relevance to the particular problem he is writing about. His personification of the devil did not sit well with us; and is not necessarily helpful to anyone with mental health issues. His attitude to prayer seemed self-centred and simplistic and he saw miracles where others would see prayer answered in an understanding of the support God gives us to carry on.
He seemed to have had difficulties with some people in his congregation (referred to in the chapter "Sheep have Big Teeth" for example) and we wondered if some of his problems were down to his leadership style of telling rather than listening to others. He offered common-sense advice to those who are down-hearted: help others; try to see what God wants from you; respond to challenges; don't quit. One of our number found his differentiation between solitude and isolation helpful.
The topic is an important one, and the book produced a good discussion, but not because we ourselves found the answers very convincing."