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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

 About the Book

Book: Whispers in the Pews
Author: Chris Morris
Genre: Mental illness & Spirituality
Release Date: November 9, 2018unnamed
Mental Illness is real. Will the Church get real?
This book is a collection of essays from various authors: men and women, pastors and congregants, counselors and nurses, parents and children. All have a unique view of how mental health conditions affect people, and how the church has responded to these circumstances. Whispers in the Pews tackles how the mentally ill have been, and still are, treated in the church at large by sharing stories.
This is not fundamentally a teaching book, but a book of moments and lives, knitted together by the common theme of mental health. No sermons will be included, though lessons learned from difficulties and their foundations in Scripture are encouraged.
This collection will expand your vision, and your heart, about what the church does well for the mentally ill, and where we can improve.

About the Author

ChrisMorrisFINAL (12 of 94)Chris Morris writes about the juxtaposition of faith and unresolved pain, those moments where we feel like God should show up, but He doesn’t His writing focuses on bring hope, encouragement, and practical steps to those disappointments, we we don’t get stuck.
He is familiar with the confusion and pain of a life interrupted by an illness. He’s had seizures of one kind or another for his entire life. Some days, he loses hours of his day. Other times, the steel trap that used to be his mind…leaks like a sieve.
His daughter is epileptic, and has had over 5000 seizures in her life. She is also a high-functioning autistic, with increasing frustration as she begins to realize she is not like her peers.
Every day, he is reminded in some way that his family will never be normal.
But he won’t give in, he won’t give up. He won’t let the pain and aggravation, the injuries and difficulties that are part of his normal keep him from living a full life. At least, most days that’s true. His heart is to show his readers how to do the same.

More from Chris

Mental illness isn’t going away any time soon, as statistics say more than one in four people are diagnosed with a mental illness in the United States. And yet, the church at large has had a mixed response to mental illnesses. The church should be the one place where people are accepted as they are, no matter the details. Jesus accepted everyone who came across his path—adulterers, tax collectors, fishermen, critics. It didn’t matter. As His footprint upon the earth, the church should be the same.
Even with, or perhaps especially with, mental health conditions, the instinct should be to lean into kindness and love. The local church body should gather around, provide a place of safety and transparency, upholding those who are not well in their midst.
And this is exactly what happens, sometimes. There are pastors who are actively looking to normalize mental health conditions by mentioning depression alongside diabetes as an illness that can be overcome.
But for every pastor looking to build a healthy understanding of mental illnesses, there is a pastor lumping depression in with pornography, equating anxiety with faithlessness, telling their congregation to avoid medicine for treatment, or otherwise refusing to recognize the complexity of mental illnesses.
Definitely there are spiritual disciplines that can help those suffering from depression, but often it’s not enough. And yes, talking with a pastor or a counselor can certainly provide some relief for anxiety, but that’s not always the path forward either. Sometimes medicine is the answer, or at least part of the answer. And sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes, trauma has left an indelible mark upon a person that cannot be overcome.
How can anyone tell the young man who is battling depression because of his abusive upbringing with a violent alcoholic father that a little more Bible reading and some memorization of a few verses will make the nightmares go away? No, that’s not how it works.
That’s not to insinuate every mental health condition comes from trauma. But even when the root isn’t trauma, there is still complexity involved. Some come from chemical imbalances…and no, that’s not a cop out. This is why antidepressants ease the burden for many suffering from severe depression, because these medications work to balance out various neurotransmitters. This is why some diagnosed as bipolar are able to find rest from the highs and lows with lithium, because a lithium imbalance was the problem in the first place.
Unfortunately, these truths are not always appreciated or understood in the church at large. No, many pastors paint with broad strokes, equating any mental illness with immaturity in the faith. It’s uncomfortable at best, and fear inducing at worst, to tell a pastor that he’s wrong. Especially when it’s hard to nail down why it is that he’s wrong.
Because of this discomfort, many choose to put on a happy shiny Christian mask and act like they’re not hurting. It’s more painful to confront church leadership and answer all the accusations and questions.
Even more disheartening than putting a mask on, many with mental illnesses choose to step away from the church altogether. They’ve been hurt too often, and too consistently, to have any space left in their hearts for trust. So they hang tight to a belief in Jesus, but walk away from the church because it hurts too much. Some of the voices you’ll read in this book have walked away from church for this very reason.
We can do better as the church. We must do better.
This reality is why I’ve gathered almost two dozen voices to share their stories. It’s only in listening—truly listening with every fiber of our being—to story after story of mental illness that we are able to see just how different every person is, even when the diagnosis is the same.
Mental illness isn’t a simple diagnosis, under any circumstances. It’s not like a fractured shoulder blade, where the path to healing is clear. With a shoulder, the bone needs to be set, the shoulder needs to be immobilized, and healing will take place. If there’s a complex fracture, then surgery might be necessary. But, the basic path is the same. This is never true with mental health conditions. Too often the church has treated those with mental illnesses as though there is a straightforward path toward healthier living, and that’s been painful to bear.
Whispers in the Pews has been written because I am convinced that it is fundamentally stories that will change the allowances for bad theology and inconsiderate (or worse) treatment of people. By hearing the pain and the victories that others have experienced in the church, my hope is that there will be room for a new way to approach mental health—one that sees the person before the health condition.


This book is one that will open your eyes to the preconceived judgement  that is associated with mental illness. I loved how the contributors to this book address the body of Christ in a way that hopefully will help people be more compassionate. Mental illness is not something anyone wants to deal with, but I shudder at the way people are treated by society. In the church we are to love each other and not judge. Unfortunately  the church is guilty of ignoring people with mental illness. Many don't know what to do and instead of finding ways to help, they ignore them. 

I loved the statement said in the book that summarizes what many people in the church feel about mental illness. Many believe that we need to pray and ask God to help us. They don't recognize this illness as a real disease. Some have even said that people with mental illness are demonically influenced and need to have more faith. "Mental illness is not exclusively for the spiritually weak, because it's not a spiritual problem"

Church should be a place of safety. People are suppose to be there to support each other and help anyway they can. That is not the case in a lot of churches. Because they lack the knowledge of how to help, someone with a mental illness is left feeling alone, unloved and not part of the congregation. My heart is heavy with the many stories in this book. I cried as I read how individuals went to church for help and understanding but left feeling like an outcast. We as the body of Christ need to make changes. 

Each story in this book is one where the person is transparent. They share what they have gone through in hopes that it may help someone. I'm thankful for a book that isn't afraid to share the truth and hopefully educate the body of Christ. I was stunned as I read about a young girl who was raped by someone in the church. No one wanted to call the authorities for fear of what it would do to the church and its members. What a shame these leaders were more worried about the standing of their church in the community then turning in a member for a horrible crime. 

I encourage leaders, pastors and each member of a church to get a copy of this book. We need to work together to help, not exclude people who suffer from mental illness. God loves each one of us and wants us to reach out with unconditional love. 

"Church should be a safe place where people are accepted as they are, with no pretense."

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

As He Leads is Joy, October 14
Texas Book-aholic, October 16
janicesbookreviews, October 17
Mary Hake, October 18
Kathleen Anderson, October 19
A Reader’s Brain, October 20
Artistic Nobody, October 23
Inspired by fiction, October 23


To celebrate his tour, Chris is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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