PhxP Book Review: “Cultural Savage”
If you’ve been here a while you know I’m a football fan in general and a Minnesota Vikings fan in particular.
The big news this week for Viking fans has been that one of our star defensive players, Everson Griffen, had some sort of severe mental breakdown that required him to be hospitalized.
He remains in the hospital and the focus now is on restoring his life, not his career.
I feed my Viking fandom by following all the local Minneapolis beat writers on Twitter…all of them but one that blocked me last night.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune was posting on Griffen’s situation and tweeted this;
Dozens of people tried to interact with Craig to try to reason him out of his medieval view of mental illness.
He wouldn’t listen, but he doubled down on his ignorance and then blocked all who had argued with him, including me.
In protest I purchased Aaron J. Smith’s “Cultural Savage”.
This is the Amazon synopsis of the book;
“Cultural Savage is a collection of essays about mental illness and Christianity and where the two intersect. Sometimes they crash into each other, and other times they coexist peacefully.
When the two collide, it manifests as the Church characterizing mental illness as a spiritual problem. A former bible-study teacher, preacher, and worship leader, Aaron J Smith demonstrates in this book that mental illness isn’t a spiritual deficiency but rather a medical condition that affects the mind.”
I follow Smith on Twitter as well…he is occasionally brilliant and often provacative.
He’s also like following the proverbial slow motion train wreck at times.
He has bipolar 2 and an anxiety disorder and he’s quite transparent about his struggles with the disease and the effects of it on his life.
He is broken and tenacious at the same time, a quality I’ve come to admire greatly.
The book itself can be difficult to get through…the writing is sometimes repetitive and laced with profanity.
Some of the essays on topics other than mental illness will not be well received by theologically conservative folks.
Having said that, he does accomplish what my hero Charles Bowden often set out to do in his writings.
He invites you in, nails the door shut, and makes you face what his reality is.
We need to face it and we need to try to understand it.
Who should read this book?
Anyone who wants a deeper understanding of what it means to live with mental illness, all pastors,… and Mark Craig of the Star Tribune…