'Broken Pieces' - Important book on Mental Illness

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Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I recently reviewed an important book on this difficult topic for our church newsletter.

Carr, Simonetta. (2019) Broken Pieces and the God who mends them. NJ: P&R Publishing. 359 p

In this fallen world suffering takes many forms. One particularly difficult form of suffering is mental illness. This book subtitled ‘Schizophrenia through a Mother’s eyes’, tells the story of a loving and courageous mother who faithfully cared for her son Jonathan during his battle with Schizophrenia. Simonetta and her family worship with the Christ United Reformed Church in San Diego, USA (one of our sister churches). Both Simonetta and her son were born in Italy. She is a prolific author, particularly of quality Children’s books.

This book is divided into two parts. The first part tells the story of Jonathan’s suffering with Schizophrenia and his mothers loving care. Parts of the story will make you weep. Yet Simonetta has true confidence in the sovereignty of God and His loving care of His people.

In part two Simonetta shares her medical research and Biblical insights she has gleamed. Many people suffering with mental illness have troubled minds and bouts of mental instability that can be difficult to stabilise. As someone who is on the Autism spectrum I can testify to this. However there are weighty truths that one can cling to in times of difficulty. The death and resurrection of Christ, union with Christ, the promises of scripture, and the doctrine of the covenant stand as rock solid truths. Further, humans are made in the image of God. No mental illness can erase this. Simonetta emphasises many comforting truths in the Heidelberg Catechism and also emphasises the importance of being in a confessional and gospel-preaching church. She devotes a chapter to the importance of the gospel for the mentally ill.

The author gives helpful advice on medication, therapy, how to go about a diagnosis, and also advice on finding good doctors and psychiatrists. She also gives a list of helpful resources at the end of the book. Prayer, spiritual discernment and wisdom in all aspects are very important. Simonetta is writing in an American context but the medical principles apply in New Zealand too.

Simonetta encourages Christians to be an advocate for the mentally ill in society and in the Church Matt 25:40. She gives examples of Christians through the centuries advocating for the disadvantaged, for example William Wilberforce helping to abolish the slave trade and the hymn writer John Newton’s pastoral care. She also encourages Christians to be a friend to the mentally ill. Show love and empathy. Give practical help. “Knowing we are not alone in our struggles goes a long way” Pg 333. In this regard reflect on Luke 14:14.

One thing I noticed throughout the book was that the author drinks deeply from the wells of Reformed Theology. The final chapter “Recovery from Schizophrenia in the “Already/Not Yet”” is a great example of this. The suffering and trials of this life are real. We are in the ‘not yet’. However we are also in the ‘yet’. Christ has won the decisive victory over death, hell, and sin in His death and resurrection. If God is for us who can be against us? Rom 8:31.

Although this book deals with a difficult subject, the tremendous combination of rich scriptural truths combined with a mothers loving insight make this an edifying book. I highly recommend it.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Thank you for this, Stephen! I have someone in the congregation possibly so afflicted – and these thoughts are helpful. Though being here on the cusp of the Middle-East I can't yet get the book easily, but may if I am back in the states.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you for this, Stephen! I have someone in the congregation possibly so afflicted – and these thoughts are helpful. Though being here on the cusp of the Middle-East I can't yet get the book easily, but may if I am back in the states.
If it helps Steve, it is available on Kindle
 
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