Renewing America's Soul: A Spiritual Psychology for Home, Work, and Nation, by Howard E. Butt, Jr. (Continuum, 264 pp.; $19.95, hardcover). Reviewed by Don E. Eberly, author of Restoring the Good Society (Hourglass/ Baker Book House) and former aide to President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp.
Arguably the worst form of pain is not physical, but mental. What makes clinical depression uniquely cruel is the broad confusion and silence that surrounds it. Of all the forbidden subjects in the church, mental illness may be the surest conversation-stopper, even though evidence suggests that it may be as pervasive in the church as it is in the broader society, where as many as one in ten experience it.
When was the last time you read an announcement in the church bulletin that there will be a meeting of the support group for those who have experienced clinical depression? Or heard from the pulpit a prayer like "Lord, help brother Howard with his clinical depression"-especially when the brother in mind is Howard Butt, Jr., a prominent lay evangelist?
Butt has written a book for the millions of Americans who start their day with prayer and Prozac. Renewing America's Soul is part the story of the author's struggle with emotional suffering, part commentary on the state of emotional wellness in the church, and part cry for social renewal rooted in relational healing. The author is clearly aware of the current tension between secular psychology and biblical faith but does not shrink from directly confronting the issues at stake in this debate. The emergence of psychological programming in the church, with its emphasis on subjective experience and feelings, has been met in recent years with appropriate resistance. In this book, however, the ...1