I owe a myriad of apologetic statements to the Heims and to Kregel. In this modern day, there's not much of an excuse for missing a deadline, but I did. This review should have been done last week. I'm quite sorry for that. No one to blame but me, but I think I'll take it out on the cat.
True North is a book by two professional counselors. Well, technically Gary Heim is a licensed psychologist and Lisa Heim is the professional counselor, but they're both mental health professionals. They are also both Christians. Sometimes, this is a hard thing to navigate. How does it work in True North?
It works well, to be honest. I've just finished a graduate-level Biblical Counseling class, so I've been reading a lot of counseling resources. What the Heims have put forward in this book is a fundamental, ground-level type of work. They are striving to explain the basics of why people act, think, and feel the way we do sometimes.
The writing style is easily understood. The two authors take turns writing chapters and providing examples (properly anonymized) from their work in the field. Some of their examples are from their own lives, and a few come from knowable historical and Biblical situations. These examples are clear enough to illustrate, but not so detailed as to cause the reader to feel voyeuristic. Neither are they given in the tone of "You don't really have a problem, this guy does" examples. Instead, these examples help put flesh on the problems, even if they can't always put flesh on the solutions.
The opening two chapters provide some basic background, helping address the oft-repeated and completely wrong notion that Christians will not struggle with emotional or mental problems and then setting out the idea that we can choose whether we will fall apart with these issues. It is from the second chapter that the title is taken as the authors challenge the reader to consider whether he will choose to go north towards the Biblical God or south towards the gods of this world.
The remaining chapters, the nuts and bolts of the book, all start with the letter "G." That's going to annoy a few readers who aren't big fans of alliteration. It does not take away from the quality and content of the book, but it doesn't particularly add to it either.
Overall, the book is well-grounded in Scripture. The chapter on "Growing it" does a good job addressing meditation from a Christian perspective. The authors present that the goal is to focus on Scripture and understanding it, rather than the "empty-your-brain" style of meditation. This is a good thing.
In all, I highly recommend this book. It is valuable to the average reader to set up a clear understanding of themselves, it would be a useful adult group study, and a good hand-out tool for the pastoral counselor.
Free book provided by Kregel Publishers in exchange for the review.