Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

The power of exposed scars and healing faith. As someone who has experienced depression, I admire all the more those book authors who face down the darkness in their journey toward the light, sharing their experiences and often exposing their own scars to help others heal. Here are few books worthy of some attention. The first few new releases, the last couple have been around for a while but are still worth noting.

1. The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis with Andrea Tornielli (Random House)
Okay, let’s start with the Pope. Currently  #4 on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller List, the pontiff (who has proclaimed 2016 a Holy Year of Mercy) gives book-length Q&A with veteran Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli  serves as primer on how we all benefit from giving and receiving the mercy which comes from God. To quote Pope Francis “Mercy is the first attribute of God. The name of God is mercy. There are no situations we can’t get out of, we are not condemned to sink into quicksand.”

2. Spiritual Sobriety: Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad by Elizabeth Esther (Convergent Books)
This one I believe was literally a God-send to me, arriving as it did when I was in the throes of my depression relapse — which like Elizabeth Esther’s struggles was related to some negative religious tapes planted in my mind when I was young. I thought I had erased them from my head years ago. Her book, in fact, helped me to see that relapsing, should it happen, is part of the journey, a learning curve and not the end of the road. I highly recommend it for anyone with struggling with negative religious baggage who, nonetheless, believes in God and desires a positive relationship with our Creator. Among my favorite quotes: “We are not inherently evil. We are inherently loved.”  Spiritual Sobriety is due out on April 19 but if you go to Elizabeth’s blog, you can pre-order it and get the first chapter sent you now (or at least real soon).

3.  Come to the Garden by Jennifer Wilder Morgan (Howard Books)
Morgan’s inspirational book recounting her encounters with an angel named Margaret just debuted at No. 1 on Amazon’s Christian Classics & Allegories List and was featured NBC’s Today (an audio version is narrated by Today host Kathie Lee Gifford). Morgan says “I’m excited to see so many people connect with this book…Come to the Garden’ is an invitation to discover a deeper, intimate, heart relationship with God. I want my story to encourage readers to overcome the fear of sharing how we encounter God in our lives. When we share our stories, they become God’s story, and He will use them to bring hope and healing to others.”

4. Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman (Convergent Books)
Author Addie Zierman insightfully recalls her faith journey that literally involved driving through the darkness in search of a God that seemed hiddenfrom her. Night Driving is due to arrive on March 15.


5. Beautifully Flawed Finding Your Radiance in the Imperfections of Our Life by Shari Rigby with Claire Yorita Lee
Rigby, who gained notice for her role as a woman who is confronted with her young adult daughter who survived an abortion attempt, bravely shares her own tumultuous story that involved searching for love in all the wrong places, drug abuse,  an abortion and her ultimate embrace of Christianity.  You can read my previous interview with Shari Rigby here.

6. Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression and Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes by Therese Borchard
The one-time Beliefnet blogger (who now posts on her own site and elsewhere) is a friend of mine and is amazingly brave, compassionate and humorous in sharing her own battle with depression. She is also the founder of Project Beyond Blue, an online community for people  dealing with persistent depression.

John W. Kennedy is a writer/development consultant specializing in teleplays, screenplays and novelizations. He can be reached at

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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