Tag Archives: living

Book Review: The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman

The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman was reccommended to me by someone else who suffers from chronic illness.  It is unusual to find a book that comes at ‘living with’ from a faith perspective, so I thought I would give it a go.

This post will review it, at some point I may write reflecting on what it says to me where I am.

Emily writes this book from her own perspective and experience of being a doctor before illness put an end to her professional career, so she writes with true understanding.  It is based, if you hadn’t guessed from the title (and I hadn’t – that’s how much brain fog I have!) around the story of Joseph – he of the Technicolour Dreamcoat fame, and the losses he had to face in his life.

There are chapters about a wide range of issues involved in facing life-changing issues.  Chapters range from working out how to get the rest that you need, family issues, work, church and faith, and a final one on facing terminal illness.  At all points practical, emotional and spiritual challenges are tackled.  The sub-title is ‘And Other Ways to Fight Back Against Life-Changing Illness’ and that is essentially what it is, a book to face the reality of where you are and perhaps find a (better) way to live with that.

The book is written with a very jaunty appearance.  An easy to read font, nice arty squiggles and some cartoons – which are very funny!  Each chapter is broken down into manageable chunks if that is all you can manage.  It is interspersed with helpful bible passages and at the end of each chapter there is a ‘For Reflection’ section, with questions to help you do just that.  Each chapter then concludes with some witty and poignant quotes.

But for all it’s jolly appearance, The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy is not an ‘easy read’.  Much of what it says is profound, and I had to keep stopping, sometimes for days, to let it sink in and work out what that meant for me.  The Reflective questions were particularly helpful with this.  This is not a book to jolly you along, or I didn’t find it so, but a book to make you really stop and think at where you are with your illness and it’s effect on your life.

Much of this book was very helpful.  However, I did find some of it a bit simplistic, for example regular comment is made on ‘choosing’ to think or behave differently.  If only it were that simple, I wouldn’t need to be reading this book!  Perhaps that’s something I need to work on… Or the comment that, “every believer will be useful in heaven” (p186), the kind of comment that I find really unhelpful, but it may be just what someone else needs to know.

I was also slightly disturbed by Chapter 11 on Healing, where I read a suggestion that sin can be the cause of our illness, or illness used as a discipline.  This is certainly not my theology.

However, it is always good for a book to have parts that bring you up short and think, ‘do I believe that?’ ‘What do I believe?’  And I was delighted to discover someone with the same analogy as mine of Sweeping Things Under the Carpet!

So, all in all, if you are looking for something to help you learn to ‘live with’ and even live well with this a useful book.  It will offer you practical advice as well as challenge attitudes.  It is going to keep me thinking for a while…

Thank you Emily for writing it.

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Not That Way

Not that way Lord,
surely not that way.

I thought following you
was going to make life easier,
simpler,
better,
more blessings
and goodness,
how my life will be better
and problems will disappear.

But now you tell me
I have to think of others,
of their needs,
that it’s not all about me,
what I can get from you,
all the amazing things you’ll give me.

It’s about giving,
loving,
going beyond,
doing what you would do,

and that is going to cost

and not everyone will like it,
or the consequences of going your way.

Following you is not the easy way,
but it is the good way,
the right way,
your way.
It can be the way of rejection and pain,
but it is the way of life
truly lived.

So may I take the cross,
your cross
and follow you

Mark 8:31-38 (CEV)

Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death

31 Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “The nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. 33 But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.”

34 Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35 If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. 36 What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37 What could you give to get back your soul?

38 Don’t be ashamed of me and my message among these unfaithful and sinful people! If you are, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Being Holy

Holy can sometimes have negative connotations, with accusations of being ‘holier than thou’ or a ‘holy Joe’ seeming to be about superiority, especially morally so.  But in truth holiness is an excellent quality, mainly because that is how God is.  So true holiness is about being dedicated to the service of God and trying to do things his ways.

This passage lays out the true characteristics of being holy.

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 (CEV)

Moral and Religious Laws

19 The Lord told Moses to say to the community of Israel:

I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too!

When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing along the edges of your fields and don’t pick up what falls on the ground. 10 Don’t strip your grapevines clean or gather the grapes that fall off the vines. Leave them for the poor and for those foreigners who live among you. I am the Lord your God.

11 Do not steal or tell lies or cheat others.

12 Do not misuse my name by making promises you don’t intend to keep. I am the Lord your God.

13 Do not steal anything or cheat anyone, and don’t fail to pay your workers at the end of each day.

14 I am the Lord your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble.

15 Be fair, no matter who is on trial—don’t favor either the poor or the rich.

16 Don’t be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone’s life.

17 Don’t hold grudges. On the other hand, it’s wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18 Stop being angry and don’t try to take revenge. I am the Lord, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.

There is not one of these that does not make perfect sense.  We would all nod and agree.  Don’t take everything you can, leave something of your abundance for those who have nothing; don’t steal, lie or cheat; don’t make promises in God’s name or on his behalf that we have no intention of keeping; pay what you owe; don’t abuse those whose life is difficult enough; be fair and just, not being swayed by appearance; do not gossip; do tell the truth when you can; don’t hold grudges and don’t be on the lookout for ways to pay back what wrongs you perceive someone has done to you; and love – God, yourself and everyone – for that is the foundation that all the rest.

So why does it seem so difficult to do?  I need to look after what I have, because you never know; that’s not really lying, or stealing or cheating….; it sounds good to make promises in God’s name, I feel better about them; if I can get away with paying a bit less; I don’t always notice the needs of others, it’s easier not to look that hard; I feel so more inclined to help those who look like me; but they hurt me so much. And love.  Do I love myself?  Am I comfortable enough with myself that I can love others, whoever, however, whenever?

Lord,
you know how difficult some of this stuff is;
you know I struggle to love myself sometimes,
or all the time,
I am hurting,
I feel overlooked
and misunderstood,
I need to look after myself…

…yet,
that is true for everyone else.
So in my mutuality,
my understanding of where they might be,
I answer your call
to live how you ask me.

I can’t do it alone,
but I long to be holy,
because you are
and that is what you ask of me

My one desire is to be holy

(with apologies for the same song 2 weeks running, but this is so the right song for this reading)