The Worry Book:
Finding a path to freedom
Will van der Hart and Rob Waller
Church Times Bookshop £7.20 (Use code
Simply Being: Finding the peace within tumult
Carol O. Eckerman
Circle Books £9.99
Church Times Bookshop £9 (Use code CT618
"WORRY", Corrie Ten Boom
said, "robs today of its joy." As its title suggests, The Worry
Book is designed to help those whose lives are afflicted by
anxiety. The co-authors are both self-professed worriers. Will van
der Hart is a vicar, and Rob Waller is a consultant psychiatrist.
Between them, they offer eight chapters combining Christian
insights with the techniques of cognitive-behavioural therapy.
They emphasise that the book
should be read slowly, taking time to reflect, make notes, and
complete the exercises at the end of each chapter. Many useful
explanations and resources are included in the appendices.
So, a self-help book for
Christian worriers. But is this book for you? A simple way to find
out is to download The Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ) from
the internet. It has 16 simple questions. A score of 57-65
indicates a moderately high Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It
is for such people (maybe 16 per cent of the population) that this
book has been written; and for them, according to the authors,
working through the book should make a significant difference to
how they think and feel.
Those who report more severe
GAD, whose worry significantly affects their functioning and may
also cause depression, are unlikely to be helped so much by The
Worry Book and should seek professional advice.
For people like me, with a
GAD score in the normal range of 16-56, inordinate, unreasonable,
and debilitating worry is not an issue, and I found it difficult to
relate sympathetically, at a personal level, to much of the
Lessons in Simply
Being is not a "How To" self-help book, like The Worry
Book. Rather, it is Carol Eckerman's candid account of her
spiritual journey after the disintegration of her "good life".
At 50 years old, she was
happily married with a family and a secure career as Professor of
Developmental Psychology at Duke University, in the United States.
The collapse of her marriage and her mother's decline into dementia
triggered an 18-year quest for release from the "myths of
The quest led to a
recognition of her control addiction, and a movement into the
territory of faith. Through silent retreats, spiritual direction,
and writers' workshops, she gradually discovered "a mysterious
loving presence that permeated her world, even its darkest
Writing as a North American
with, presumably, a North American readership in mind, Eckerman is
not shy about disclosing the intimate details of her long and
difficult process of spiritual and psychological change and
development. Many readers will connect with issues raised in this
well-written book; others will be put off by the author's
self-engrossed agenda, and share my uncomfortable sense of what I
can describe only as spiritual voyeurism.
Canon Bruce Duncan, a retired priest, was the founding
Principal of Sarum College.