Monday, October 15, 2012

A New Name (book review)

Dedicated readers of my blog (all four of you) have probably noticed "A New Name" in my blog reel/side-bar. I forget how I came to be a regular reader, but I am so grateful that I did. Emma writes honestly about her own struggles yet still points faithfully to Jesus. She is one of the best Christian writers I have ever (not quite yet) met.

Emma has written a book by the same title. It is subtitled "grace and healing for anorexia," which substantially underestimates it. Emma boldly and bravely explains her own struggle with anorexia, walking us through her testimony, through her childhood in a non-Christian family, battling with anorexia and OCD as a teenager, then through a relative honeymoon period to her second struggle with anorexia as an adult. We see snippets of her life, enough to understands the depths of her brokenness, but not so much that it feels intrusive or voyeuristic. More than this, woven delicately and beautifully through are the lessons she has learned, the wisdom she has gleaned, and the encouragement to find our own grace and healing.

Mental health problems (not just anorexia) will affect 1 in 3 of us personally. Contrary to the damaging things I have heard, Christians are not exempt from this. Both in the church and out of it, mental health is still a massive taboo. Emma boldly steps out and raises her hand to say, "twice in my life I've had anorexia that nearly killed me." And it is her willingness to tell her story and to be real in such a public way that makes her book so powerful. You see, it's not just her story, it's all part of the story that Jesus is writing. As she explains, "Jesus Christ calls himself a Doctor for sick sinners. And I am both. I'm sick - helpless in the face of a condition that overpowers me. I'm also a sinner - deliberately choosing my way over his. Despite this, he loves me just the same. So this is not just 'my' story. It's the story of his work in my life" (p15-16 A New Name, Emma Scrivener, IVP, 2012.)

It is precisely because it is more than just her story that I would so heartily recommend this book. Her description of her character with its foibles and flaws laid bare, her gentle tone, her advice and reflections will ring bells with all of us. Her appeal to us to put aside our shame, to be real, is a challenge to our hearts. If more of us take her lead, and own up to being the wounded, vulnerable, damaged sinners that we all are, I feel certain the church will be the body that the Lord intended it to be. Whether or not you have experience of anorexia, or mental health problems, Emma's book is an excellent read, well-written, with appropriate moments of humour and sobriety. Read it!


Emma said...


This is so kind - thank you. Emma

Beckie said...

You're very welcome. I mean all of it :-)