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Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Wisdom in Memoirs of Soul-Suffering

Much Madness is Divinest Sense: Wisdom in Memoirs of Soul-Suffering. Kathleen J. Greider. Pilgrim Press (2007).

Book review by Christine Guth.

In Kathleen J. Greider’s book, Much Madness is Divinest Sense: Wisdom in Memoirs of Soul-Suffering, the word in the title that most deserves emphasis is wisdom. This is indeed a collection of deep wisdom drawn from the writings of some seventeen memoirists. These writers share what they have learned from the deepest torments of their being. Greider uses soul-suffering to describe the anguish she writes about because she wants to be both more inclusive and less clinical than mental illness or other medical terms would suggest. Without romanticizing the devastation of psychic turmoil, Greider determines to learn and share the enduring spiritual values it has to teach all of us. She reflects on themes common to these writings, using the headings of identity, suffering, care that helps or harms, and healing as a means of organization. Those who know inner chaos intimately have much to teach about the paradox and mystery of life.


My initial thought that the book might be too academic to appeal to most readers of Connections was soon replaced by a conviction of its relevance for people seeking to hold on to faith through the challenges of life touched by disability or human limitation. I commend it to those who seek to understand and accompany someone suffering from psychic anguish, whether as friend, pastor, or family member. The book will have particular value to any who struggle to make sense of their own soul-suffering, regardless of its cause.

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