Amy Simpson challenges the church to step up its ministry to a vulnerable population.
The shocking recent suicide of pastor Rick Warren's 27-year-old son, Matthew, launched thought-provoking discussion about the difficulties of coping with mental illness in the church. In the midst of his grief, Warren spoke honestly and vulnerably about the stigma and judgmental attitudes that kept his son's depression in the shadows for far too long.
Amy Simpson confronts these attitudes in Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission (InterVarsity Press), an excellent introduction to the realities of mental illness. Simpson challenges the church to step up its ministry to this vulnerable population.
The book includes a look at Scripture, Simpson's survey of 500 churches, and sensitive accounts of many Christians struggling with mental illness themselves or alongside a family member. She argues that although the topic of mental illness is now discussed openly in the broader culture, the church often remains stuck in the dark ages. Many still hold a neo-Gnostic theology, believing depression and other mental illness are caused by unrepentant sin.
Simpson poignantly describes her mother's severe and chronic mental illness. She weaves her stories with those of others. Many people were eager to be heard, and were grateful that someone in the church is finally paying attention.
Troubled Minds offers a thorough and well-researched overview of the realities of mental illness. But Simpson does not resort to professional jargon. The book's real strength lies in Simpson's empathy for those she interviewed, and the compassionate retelling of their stories. Readers will be far better prepared to care for those in their midst who struggle with mental illness. Finally, the book offers hope, ...
Daniel White Hodge finds signs of the gospel in the beats of hip-hop.
Daniel White Hodge is a producer with a Ph.D. In his twenties he had production credits on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's first album, E 1999 Eternal, as well as helping to score the first two seasons of New York Undercover. With a Ph.D. from Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, he is now the director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and assistant professor of youth ministry at North Park University in Chicago.
Hodge's books, Heaven Has A Ghetto: The Missiological Gospel & Theology of Tupac Amaru Shakur and The Soul Of Hip-Hop: Rimbs Timbs & A Cultural Theology are explorations of "theomusicology." CT's Wes Jakacki talked with him at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Music about Reformed rappers, why many Christians are still uneasy about hip-hop, and the religious themes that pulse underneath even the most secular rap.
How has your relationship with hip hop changed over your life?
I was a listener as a kid, back in the late 1970s when I first heard The Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC and started wondering how they put those words together. Until high school, I was more of a consumer. In high school I became a participant. In my early twenties, I was involved as a producer. Now I am looking at how God is involved in almost every facet of hip-hop culture, which has become more of a lifestyle, not just something in [a musical] corner.
What is the theological heritage of hip-hop?
The historical root of hip hop is self-awareness and self-consciousness. "Use your mind. See the world and see it for what it is." KRS-One or Afrika Bambaataa said there are nine elements of hip hop, but there are really ten. The tenth is spirituality. It's about connecting with God. A lot of ...
Think of how evangelicals may describe the Bible: unchanging, inerrant, authoritative, truth.
Well, "in the world we are entering, the concept of the Bible will be completely different," said David Parker, theology professor at the University of Birmingham. Speaking recently at the Hay Festival in England, Parker predicted that technology will prompt personalized digital versions of the Scripture, "like an individual copy" of the Bible.
If Parker is right, we evangelicals might have some major questions. How would this editorial control affect our faith? Could it lead to an eventual erosion of sound doctrine? Would the capacity for changing our sacred texts ultimately diminish their authority?
Biblical has become the evangelical "brand." We read the Bible; we quote the Bible; we live by its truths and teachings. For us, much would be lost if biblical authority eroded and eventually disappeared.
However, according to T.M. Luhrmann's recent book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, there may be a difference between how evangelicals perceive their commitment to the Bible and to what extent it actually influences how they articulate and live their faith.
Luhrmann, a psychological anthropologist at Stanford University, did years of research within the Vineyard movement and discovered a Christianity that was more therapeutic than theological. She provocatively suggests that American evangelicalism has scripted a new narrative, reformulating both problem and solution. "The [new] problem is human emotional pain and the human's own self-blaming harshness;" the gospel is that "God loves you, just as you are, with all your ...