Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the Care of People with Mental Health Problems

by John Swinton. Abingdon Press, 2000.

John Swinton confronts the notion that mental illness is not relevant to a faith community’s mission. He states, “This is a book about radical friendship. It is a call to the church to rediscover its prophetic roots in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to reclaim its identity as the friend and protector of the poor, the outcast, and the stranger.” As a former psychiatric nurse and mental health chaplain, the author unfolds the manifold dimensions of poverty and stigma forced upon the mentally ill by both society and faith communities. With prophetic force, he advances a challenge to the church: solidarity and friendship with persons suffering from mental illness enables the church to embody Jesus’ unconditional and liberating love. Swinton urges readers to examine their willingness to welcome “the stranger” and thereby help to resurrect the person behind the illness. A practical friendship-building model is outlined based on a partnership between psychiatric chaplain, congregation, and persons with mental health problems. This book provides solid theological material for clergy and denominational leaders who dare to examine the premises and practices of their mission and ministry.