*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***
Important information: We are currently experiencing technical issues with the webiste and it is currently running with reduced functionality, some category pages may not contain a full list of articles and the search is not currently working. We apologise for the inconvenience and should have everything back to normal as soon as possible.

Slow down and receive the gift

by
03 February 2017

Katherine Currie reads a vision of disabled people in the round

iStock

Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, timefullness, and gentle discipleship
John Swinton
SCM Press £19.99
(978-0-334-05557-0)
Church Times Bookshop £18

 

WHAT this book deserves, and needs, is time to read it slowly and reflectively. The disability part of the title refers to those with learning disabilities, with dementia, and with acquired neurological damage.

Having a disability, I was pleased to find the author citing the theologian Nancy Eiesland, who feels that “. . . it is vitally important that her disability remains with her in her resurrection body. Healing would make herself a stranger to herself and to others.”

The author’s approach is immensely practical, presumably based on his years working both as a Registered Mental Nurse and as a nurse for people with learning disabilities.

I wished that the author, now a Church of Scotland minister and theologian, had remained within the nursing profession. There are many dedicated and imaginative nurses, but Swinton’s ability to see the person, not the case history, and to perceive him or her as being of infinite value and beloved by God cannot be repeated and re-presented too often to a society that, he feels, finds it hard to perceive the worth of lives that cannot by ratified by the values of a time-keeping, industrialised society, and that esteems people for what they can do rather than for themselves alone. To have someone who shares Jean Vanier’s vision within the nursing profession would be a force for good.

Swinton’s two chapters on dementia were for me the most moving and the most helpful, as I see my mother’s and old friends’ memories begin to fail, and swirl into confusion with time and history. He suggests that, rather than describe dementia as something that “destroys memory”, “steals memory”, or “kills memory”, thereby creating only fear, we should recognise that “memory has of course to do with recall, but that is not the only thing it has to do with.”

He then describes how, with what has become known as “validation therapy” (in the incident described, therapy by using a hymn), the apparently completely withdrawn person is reached, and resurrected, through the patience and perseverance of the co-worker.

There is also an interesting chapter, written with a person with acquired brain injury, which leaves this reader filled with admiration for the triumph of the human spirit.

This book, whose author won the 2016 Michael Ramsey Prize for Dementia: Living in the memories of God (SCM Press, 2012), is a plea to slow down, and give time, patience, and love to those whom society may perceive as having a disability, but who offer a transforming gift to those who persevere.

 

Katherine Currie is a librarian with nursing-library experience.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

29 September 2020
Festival of Preaching
A one-day online version of our popular preaching festival. With Mark Oakley, Sam Wells and Anna Carter Florence.   Book tickets

 

19 October 2020
Creativity out of crisis: Hymns and worship webinar
In association with RSCM, this online event will explore creative uses music and liturgy in the context online and socially distanced worship.    Book tickets

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)