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From Bedlam to «Shalom»

Towards a Practical Theology of Human Nature, Interpersonal Relationships, and Mental Health Care


John Swinton

This book provides a provocative and original insight into the relationship between human nature and mental health. Drawing on his experience within nursing and hospital chaplaincy, John Swinton explores some vital issues surrounding the theology and practice of mental health care. He works out a model of care-in-community that offers a timely corrective to the individualized therapeutic approaches that have come to dominate the field of mental health studies. ‘From Bedlam to Shalom’ argues that genuine mental health care is the work of the whole church community, carried out primarily through the «forgotten» relationship of friendship. By imaging the radical compassion revealed in the friendship of Jesus, the church can recover a vital communal perspective on mental health care and in so doing, move people closer to their nature as creatures made in the image of a God who is love.

«In this book, John Swinton does the church an important service in his recovery of the relationship of friendship as being central to its life. For him, friendship is of the essence of the community of faith, a compassion that is truly encompassing. Swinton’s recovery and enlargement of the concept of friendship takes us beyond an easy, cheap sentimentality. This is the careful and disciplined reflection of someone who has worked with the most vulnerable in society both as a chaplain and as a nurse. As such, ‘From Bedlam to Shalom’ is a major contribution to Practical Theology.» (David Lyall, Senior Lecturer, Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland)
«This is a book that every pastor should study and that every professional caregiver should read in order to promote a therapeutic bond that could develop between providers of mental health services and the church as a community of friends. Those who suffer from emotional and mental stress may never find complete freedom from such distress, but can surely experience health and humanity in a community where the image of God is embodied in loving and caring relationships. I long for what is described in this book to become the passion and purpose of the people of God in every place where Christ would be today.» (Ray S. Anderson, Professor of Theology and Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California)