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JCN reviews and briefs books are other media resources as a service to our readers. We do not sell or profit financially from these books. If you cannot find a book in your local bookstore, either ask the bookstore to order it for you or contact the publisher directly. Most publishers have websites through which you can order their books. Book Briefs are short synopses based on the publisher's descriptions. JCN staff have not read or evaluated these books.




By Harold G. Koenig 352 pp., Philadelphia, PA: Templeton, $29.95, 2005, paperback.


Review: Harold Koenig, a physician well known to nurses for his numerous books and publications on faith and health, has prepared an informative resource for healthcare and religious professionals interested in understanding the role religion and the faith community play in mental health. Koenig begins with an impressive historical overview of the role faith has played in mental health and mental health care. He documents that although mental illness has been associated with evil spirits or demon possession, major religious traditions have been at the forefront of providing and championing humane, compassionate care of the mentally ill. Koenig then lays out an exhaustive review of research on religion and mental health, including published research examining mental health in the major faith traditions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism). His professional and thorough presentation of psychiatric literature and research is impressive.

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What I found fascinating (and encouraging) is that despite claims by highly respected and well-known mental health professionals that religiousness leads to worse mental health and greater neurosis, scientific research supports an opposite conclusion. Koenig found that religion and faith traditions are associated with better mental health and well-being the majority of the time. Furthermore, research supports that religion and the involvement of a well-established faith community positively impacts those with mental illness, even severe persistent mental illness.


Koenig presents a thorough discussion of faith-based mental health care. He provides a history of the role faith communities have played in social services for the mentally ill in the U.S. for the past 150 years and how government came to take over much of this work. Koenig suggests strategies and models for faith-based organizations (FBOs) to integrate faith-based mental health care into their mission. Local congregations, networking and advocacy organizations, mission-driven faith-based services, and faith-integrated counseling organizations are discussed. He concludes by discussing barriers to further research on the religion-mental health relationship and to implementing FBO care, offering possible solutions to overcome these obstacles.


Faith and Mental Health isn't a "Christian" book, but Koenig offers Christians an outstanding background and wealth of information to understand and support faith-based mental health ministry.-KSS



By Gary Kinnaman and Richard D. Jacobs


192 pp, Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, $13.99, 2006, paperback.


Brief: The authors, a pastor and a medical doctor, dispel faulty Christian thinking that depression is a mental illness, a character flaw, or a physical illness. It cannot be waited out or cured by denial.


Through candid self-disclosure, both men reveal their respective experiences with depression and offer assistance by viewing depression as a multi-faceted illness. Readers will find solid resources for matters of both body and soul.



By David Powlison


288 pp., Phillipsburg, NJ: P& R, $14.99, 2003, paperback.


Review: Powlison, editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling and educator and counselor at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) in Glenside, Pennsylvania, offers a series of essays that examine life issues and psychological problems through the lens of Scripture. His premise is that to understand people, their problems, and the solution to those problems, we need to correctly understand Scripture. However, rather than interpreting Scripture through our life perspectives (which we typically do), we need to gain the vantage point of Scripture and biblical truth, viewing life from a biblical perspective. This was a delightfully freeing book for me as I began to think about issues in my life in a whole different light-God's light. Although written for counselors and mental health workers, this is a helpful book to anyone in the healing profession who is searching for greater freedom personally or wants to pass it on to clients. -KSS



By Henry Close


131 pp., Binghamton, NY: Haworth, $14.95 / $29.95, 2004, paperback / hardcover.


Review: I loved this book and have referred to it countless times in my educational presentations. Close provides the reader with an approach to forgiveness that weaves together theological as well as psychological insights, resulting in a practical approach to dealing with hurts that leave us emotionally wounded.

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Close begins by giving us a glimpse into his personal vulnerability. He readily admits his own struggles with forgiveness and provides the reader with concrete personal examples. One particular example focuses on a relationship Close had with a friend who, having been in an automobile accident was unable to work for several months. During this time the friend borrowed money from Close to purchase a new car. Although the friend signed a note to repay Close he never did. Meanwhile, the friend declared bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy the friend's financial status improved dramatically so Close approached him to begin repayment of the loan only to be told that the bankruptcy had annulled the obligation to repay. Close felt betrayed by his friend, resentful, and hurt and yet realized that if he remained obsessed with his friend's betrayal than he continued to be a victim and would never be free. This is one of the conundrums of a lack of forgiveness: we are hurt; we are unable to let go of the hurt and by holding on our hurt intensifies. Our decision not to forgive keeps the wound open and painful. Close returns repeatedly to this example throughout the book as he discusses different types of offenses.


Three ways that we hurt each other are described: offenses against freedom which limits our choices, offenses against self-esteem which leaves us feeling small and humiliated, and offenses against intimacy where betrayal is at the heart of the hurt. Close's definitions of these offenses are supported with rich examples that allow the reader to feel the pain and empathize with the victim of the hurt-even feeling anger for the injustice that the victim experienced. Close doesn't leave us there though, he takes us through a systematic process that gives us glimpses of how forgiveness actually occurs and the questions that arise such as, "Is it essential to forgive and forget?" and "Is there a place for revenge?" He illustrates through stories that victims are able to make deliberate commitments and engage in deliberate behaviors that move them toward forgiveness. Each of us has choices regarding how we think about the offender who hurt us. We have choices about how we behave in respect to the offender. If we behave differently we begin to feel and to think differently but it begins with a decision to forgive.


I enthusiastically encourage others to read this book. Close is so approachable on the pages that I began to think about him using his first name. He became my friend and a wonderful teacher about a critically important area for all of us, personally as well as professionally-the importance of forgiveness.-Verna Benner Carson, Ph.D., APRN/PMH, National Director of Restore Behavioral Health, Tender Loving Care Home Health Services, Baltimore, Maryland.



By Bob Gates, editor


308 pp., Malden, MA: Blackwell, $49.95, 2006, paperback.


Brief: This book, the first of its kind, explores how nurses can enable people with intellectual disabilities to obtain good quality care, encouraging nurses to use the best possible guidance to plan their professional care and to reflect on their practice. The first section examines care planning, care pathways, person-centered care planning, life planning, legal and ethical implications of care planning and risk assessment. The second section explores care planning for people with profound or complex needs, care planning for good health, and care planning and delivery in more specialist settings including forensic, mental health, palliative care, community nursing, and residential settings. Intellectual Disability Nursing offers a practical hands-on tool for any nurse or organization who serves those with learning and other intellectual disabilities.




By Janet S. Hickman


356 pp. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, $39.95, 2005, paperback.


Brief: Designed for use in a variety of parish nursing courses, this textbook is unique in combining traditional parish nursing content with community health nursing methodology, coverage of community and faith community assessment, and health education and health promotion/disease prevention programming. Coverage of complementary and alternative medicine is included. While focusing on the Christian faith community, the text is written to encompass diverse faith traditions, appropriately reflecting the diversity of faith traditions in today's communities. ANA's Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice is incorporated into the chapter content.

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By Skip McDonald


159 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, $13.00, 2005, paperback.


Review: I love this book!!


I found this author to be the most honest I have heard on the subject of singleness. She is her authentic self, telling it like it is. Each chapter brought thoughtful reminders of my life before I married at the ripe old age of 45. Just 10 years later my husband died, and I am back in the singles mode. I was drawn into each chapter with a sense of joy, peace, and challenge. Added to Skip's openness is the openness of those she has interviewed regarding various aspects of singleness.

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Topics such as the pain of always being on the outside of the fireworks between two lovers and the perpetual comments about still being single are explored. Though the remedy for our circumstances is always found in Jesus, Skip shares honestly of the difficulty of that journey. The reader is brought into the discussion by carefully crafted questions pertaining to personal responses to such things as God's delay in providing a spouse, how much you are trying to manipulate God to give you what you think you have to have, and how much energy you are spending on keeping God in focus as you try to make this journey as a Christian. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter can be used personally or in small group settings.


Skip examines the significant issues of codependency and sexual gratification for single women, offering a forthright personal discussion by the author and others with whom she discussed these topics. Additionally, and often over looked or likely ignored, is the church's lack of awareness of how to minister to singles. The even larger issue is how the church ignores the gifts and talents of singles, and thus keeps them from ministry within the body of believers. Skip gives practical ideas to church leaders on how to place singles in ministry so that the whole body of Christ may experience the fullness of body life in Christ.


This book is full of warnings and pitfalls, things that should raise red flags in relationships with both men and women. If you are single, read this book and allow it to help you make this journey in your life in a healthy, Christ-like manner. -Bonnie J. Miller, D.Min., RN, Professor Emeritus, Xavier University and Executive Director of Love In the Name of Christ, Harrison, Ohio.