New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Reviews > Book reviews >

Shaping their ends

What forms young people on their way to adulthood? Jenny Francis finds out

Click to enlarge

Called by Mind and Spirit: Crossing the borderlands of childhood
Gavin Knight and Joanna Knight

Mowbray £14.99
(978-1-4411-3761-6)
Church Times Bookshop £13.50

GAVIN and Joanna Knight, a husband-and-wife team of priest and clinical psychologist, have again produced a book drawn on, and inspired by, where they live, where Gavin works, and where, as a family, they have their being.

Their concept of inhabiting a borderland area is illustrated by their life in the Welsh Borders, dealing with young people journeying through the borderlands of childhood and adolescence, and towards adulthood. The Knights are simultaneously rearing their own three children.

Their aim is to stir up in the wider Church a greater respect for children, and to find better ways of including them and allowing their voices to be heard, as the Church accepts the challenge of welcoming young people and drawing them into a genuine partnership.

To be rooted in community, the authors conclude, is the key to success, as it permits healthy dialogue within our contemporary society.

As with an earlier study, the authors rely on a clear but multilayered structure to express their ideas and discoveries. After the first main section, “Who do we Think we Are”, in which they each look back to the experiences and events that shaped their lives, they move on to consider how identity is formed, how early childhood is shaped, and how adolescence is accepted as the crucial stage on the journey towards adulthood which it is.

Each developmental stage is linked with a parallel sacramental rite — baptism, con­firma­tion, and ordination — and is seen in appropriate theological terms: identity, formation, and vocation.

The priest’s contribution comes first, and then the psychological perspective, which culminates in a short, cogent conclusion: “Integrating Mind and Spirit”. Quotations from the commission in the relevant rite (Common Worship) serve to root readers’ thoughts, and to point to ways in which we may better engage with children and young people at each stage.

As Joanna Knight says in her introduction, childhood is “multi-layered”. So, too, is the structure. Sometimes its logic helps, but at other times it tends to confuse, requiring the reader to hold several trains of thought in tension simultaneously.

The whole is, however, a most valuable contribution to current discussions on work with children, not least at a time when some parish churches are burgeoning with young families and their offspring, while others are severely depleted and have little idea how, or even any desire, to remedy the situation.

The reflective poems at the start of each section, and the thoughtful final epilogue add to the whole, as does a very useful bibliography.

Essentially, the sensitive interplay between psychology and practical theology is refreshing. The Knights should be congratulated on their imaginative and courageous contribution to this vital debate, a subject on which the future of our Church rests.

The Revd Jenny Francis is Assistant Curate of Stow-on-the-Wold, Condicote and The Swells.

Job of the week

Principal

West Midlands

PRINCIPAL ST ALBAN'S ACADEMY Lead an outstanding high-profile school in Birmingham St Alban's Academy serves the Highgate area of Birmingham. It is part of the ARK Schools group, a network of ...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

It’s not all religion’s fault

It’s not all religion’s fault

In her new book, Karen Armstrong argues that violence comes from a deep-seated 'warrior ethos' rather than from religion. She talks to Cole Moreton  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Should the seal of the confessional be absolute?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Clergy are ‘more like Old Labour than New’

A survey commissioned to support debates on the future of the C of E yields some interesting results, says Linda Woodhead  Read More

Fri 31 Oct 14 @ 10:38
NEW: Lord Hope ends formal ministry after Cahill Inquiry findings @ http://t.co/RD1c7x8mMv

Fri 31 Oct 14 @ 10:07
This picture was taken by @WorldVision in Ethiopia 1984. Find out what has changed in 30 years http://t.co/284rjStWyw http://t.co/zHhcINqXEZ