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The United Benefice of Withington, Sevenhampton with Charlton Abbots, Hawling, Whittington, Dowdeswell and Andoversford, Shipton and Cold Salperton

This month's letter from the clergy

Local Book review:

The heart is a noisy room

Dear friends,

Do you ever hear voices? .... I don’t mean ‘out loud’ as if you
are going mad, but do you ever ‘hear’ voices in your head that
say ‘You’re not good enough’, ‘unless you do it perfectly it is not worth doing’ or things like that. These voices can come from
our upbringing, our culture or other influences as well.

I suspect that most of us have voices like that that we don’t quite know how to handle. It is therefore great to find that one of our parishioners has written a really helpful book. Ron Boyd-Macmillan, who lives in Withington, has just published ‘The heart is a noisy room:  Your inner voices, why they matter and how to win them over’. Ron has a very readable writing style, a light touch and makes his points well.  He draws on the insights of psychology and mindfulness and Christian spirituality. He also draws extensively on his experience of travelling widely, often visiting churches facing great persecution.

It is helpful that Ron sets out four characters, ‘Defective Deborah’, ‘Get Ahead Gerald’, ‘Successful Sally’ and ‘Never Good Enough Nigel’ and he keeps coming back to these characters to see how the points he his making impact on them. This helps the book to be earthed. There are practical suggestions that make a difference, but as he himself points out ‘It is a package, not a silver bullet’. There is no quick fix to sort out how to handle the voices. There are many thought provoking moments. For example he quotes Helmut Thieliecke ‘There is only one desire stronger than the desire for God, and that is the desire to be free of him’.

At the end of the book there is a fascinating section on how cultural voices arise and are so dangerous. The example of how a minority party in India became the dominant political force is really scary. But as Ron shows our own Western European culture promotes lying voices as well.

This is not a long book and is available in paperback and kindle formats. I commend it warmly. Ron will be speaking about his book at our April Engage meeting on Sunday 15th April at 7pm at the Community Church.