Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Shattered

Rita A. Schulte.  Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Loses of Life.  Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publishers, 2013.  236 pp.  $14.99.

After spending over a decade in some form of ministry (whether as a minister based in a congregation or a hospital), it still surprises me when people question the validity of their faith when they experience pain and suffering.  It is as if becoming a Christian exempts us from getting hurt.  Yet, the reality is that we will all experience suffering, sometimes over and over again.  And, in her book Shattered, Rita Schulte, a Virginia-based Christian counselor, argues that it is our faith in God that gets us through the “shattered” moments of our lives. 

Schulte lays out her discussion in three major units.  In the first unit (chapters 1-5), she examines the “assaults of lose on the heart.”  Here she focuses on those moments that challenge our faith and our belief in God, encouraging the reader to rethink our perception of God amidst these painful moments.  In the second unit (chapters 6-8), she discusses a strategy for reclaiming our hearts from the suffering that we experience.  Focusing primarily on anger and forgiveness, Schulte challenges us to see that not forgiving those who hurt us is what prevents us from receiving God’s healing.  In the third unit (chapters 9-11), she focuses on how we grow through our suffering and pain.  Here Schulte emphasizes the intentionality that we must have when it comes to growing through suffering.   

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Schulte’s book.  In terms of strengths, four stand out.  First, I found her writing style to be very conversational.  Some works on suffering can be technical and clumsy.  Schulte, however, explains the technical aspects of grief and suffering in a simple manner that adds to the impact of her book.  Second, she connected real-life examples with her concepts.  In doing so, the abstract concepts become concrete ideas because we can see how they have played out in the lives of others.  Third, the provided appendices are practical.  For example, Appendix A provides a list of losses that mostly any reader can connect with.  Also, the “Certificate of Debt” exercise provided in Appendix C is quite useful when working with clients or church members who need to address issues of forgiveness.  Finally, her use of Scripture examples were appropriate and applied well.

However, this does not mean that this volume is free from limitations.  Two come to mind.  First, while I appreciated her conversation tone, I thought she was too conversation at times.  It is difficult to balance the heady language of a clinical practitioner with a user-friendly bedside manner.  Overall, it seems that Schulte opted for user-friendly bedside manner.  Second, I think this volume is a little too long.  I think she could have shaved about 70 pages off (primarily in the first unit) and still produced the same material with an even more impactful message.  However, I think this is a solid work on suffering that I would gladly recommend to any who are interested or are seeking guidance in dealing with their own losses.

Rob O’Lynn, MDiv
Assistant Professor of Preaching and Ministry
Kentucky Christian University

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers as part of their ACU Press Bookclub Program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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