BookMarks

February 11, 2008

Teenagers are often a mysterious mix of impulsiveness and inertia, which makes it difficult to recognize in them the signs of depression. Many people find it hard to believe that adolescents can be clinically depressed. Even Nelson, a United Methodist minister who had been trained in psychological counseling, had trouble recognizing the symptoms in his son, Tom. With a deep respect for the courage of those who battle this disease, Nelson provides down-to-earth insights into depression and treatment. Just as important, he gives an honest account of his struggle to understand the illness that gutted Tom’s high school years, turning a baseball star and honor student into someone who could not get out of bed. He conveys a parent’s terrors and self-doubt, and the flood of questions that arise as one tries to figure out how to help. (Should we—can we—force Tom to get out of bed? What do we tell the school? What do we tell his sister?) Theologically, Nelson returns repeatedly to Psalm 22 and faith in the God who walks with those who walk in darkness.

A critical study of . . . angels? Novelist and theologian Wright shows that such a thing is possible by placing the angelology of the three Abrahamic faiths alongside one another. Many of the stories from other faiths will preach right away. For example, some Jews believe that not only does each human have a guardian angel, but so does every single blade of grass. Muslims hold that an angel is responsible for our digestion, and that an angel is involved in the formation of each drop of rain. Much of the book is a running commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s theology of angels—including his rationale for angels having some sort of body and so being unable to be in two places at the same time. (It was this discussion that led to the mock-theological question of how many angels can balance on the head of a pin.) This book shows what Protestants lost by deemphasizing angels.

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