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Summer Reading

July 21, 2012

Aint happenin’ for me this year. Unless you count reading during summer.

Yesterday my husband took the girls to the library to stock up for the weekend. This summer Faith is reading and re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series —again. Her quote: “Mom, these books are so perfect. They have plot. Character development. Humor. Horses. Romance. Everything!”

Mercy watching Faith ride.

Mercy and Hope are easy to shop for at the library: if it has a fairies in it, they want to read it.

So I gave my husband my library card and asked him to pick up the book waiting for me on the Inter Library Loan shelf.

He called me.

“I’m at the library. I have the book with your name on it. But I think they made a mistake.”


“Because you said you’ve been looking forward to it. This is: The Mad Among Us: A History of the Care of America’s Mentally Ill. Did they send the wrong book?”

“No! That’s it! I’m so glad it arrived in  time for the weekend!”

My husband sighed. “Okay. What’s it got to do with Ohio?”

Ohio is coming up in ten days. A respite/research trip for me.

“Because ‘blood-guilt’ over inheriting profits from slavery, according to the family story, drove him insane. But there were no asylums in Minnesota yet. So the Ohio legislature passed a special bill enabling his family to institutionalize him in Ohio. A year later, he came home and stepped back into the pulpit. I need to understand how mental illness was treated in the 1850s.”

My husband brought the book home.

I’m enjoying it. Beach reading in the world God has placed me in.

Those of us who live with disability and mental illness and/or love those who do, know we simply can’t escape the human condition. We live intimately with the effects of the fall –not as a theological abstraction but as a minute by minute reality.

The first insight from my reading: our church’s approach to those among us with organic mental illness has much in common with Cotton Mather’s. Makes some sense, right? But we don’t live in a Colonial social structure today.

So the shoe does not fit the foot very well. That’s the rub. Literally.

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