Book review: Courage, Dear Heart by Rebecca K. Reynolds

This is a tenderly written collection of letters to the human heart in turbulent times. Addressing the issues which so often trouble our minds and trammel our joy, Reynolds cuts through our presenting symptoms when faced with anxiety and adversity, penetrating to the heart and soul of who we are, and how we can hope.

So much of Christian literature is a recycling of old forms and norms, resulting in utilitarian manuals which might inform the mind, but don’t reach the centre of who we are and how we tick. This book finds its voice via melodic prose (which never feels forced or flowery), and through stripping the metaphorical paint job that so much of our doctrine and devotion is coated in at times. There is novelty of tone, there is texture in the turn of phrase, and there is an orthodox belief in the God of Scripture suffusing it all.

Reynolds is unafraid to visit the badlands of suffering and doubt; she doesn’t pull the stop cord prematurely on the freight train of pain and disconsolation that thinking through these issues brings; but her writing finds protracted resolution in what Christ has done, and what Christ is yet to do in the eschaton. The theology of the book is rigorously orthodox, but it lacks Received Pronunciation, choosing instead the rugged contours of the Psalmist over the smooth simplicities of the sophist.

Handling issues as diverse as our hunger for home, the horrors of abuse, the spiritual sepsis of cynicism, the consequences of beauty, the disarming realities of true Christian community, Reynold’s writes always with an eye to the outsider, bringing reality and theology out to the periphery without ever once compromising her human honesty, or her doctrinal integrity.

This is a book from the boundaries, a book to bind the heart afresh to the unsafe goodness of Christ, a book that sings while it quietly dismantles the heart, reopening channels of hope, and revitalising the life of faith. Highly recommended.

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