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Ambrose Musiyiwa (Leicester, UK)
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The Gospel According To The Son
The Gospel According To The Son
by Norman Mailer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-imagining Christ, 21 Jan 2010
Sometime ago, when I was browsing through the shelves at the Dudley Library, looking and hoping I'd find one or two titles by Dambudzo Marechera, I came across The Gospel According to the Son.

The title was like a magnet.

Many years earlier, while browsing through the shelves of a bookstore in Harare, Zimbabwe I'd stumbled upon Kahlil Gibran's Jesus, the Son of Man and I'd been completely taken in by the idea of a novel about Jesus Christ. I'd found Gibran's book so engaging that it's now top on the list of books I keep reading and re-reading. Norman Mailer's Gospel According to the Son is also joining that list.

The two books are similar to each other. They are both based on the Gospels. They both take a familiar story and they re-imagine and re-tell it. They both present an imaginative account of the life and work of Jesus Christ and explore the effect that Jesus had on the lives, hearts and minds of the people he lived and worked among. The story in both books is presented in the first person by a person who was close to the action. And, to me, the spirit that informs and pervades both books feels so authentic that each of the books reads like an alternative Gospel.

The main difference between the two books is that Jesus, the Son of Man was first published in 1928 while The Gospel According to the Son came out in 1998. Also, while The Gospel According to the Son has one narrator, Jesus, the Son of Man is told from multiple perspectives. It is told from the individual point of view of a variety of characters who'd known, lived with, met or heard about Jesus Christ. Most of the characters whose voices we hear in this book are also mentioned or implied in the Gospels. These characters include Anna, the mother of Mary; Mary Magdalen; Caiaphas, the High Priest; Joseph of Arimathaea and Simon, the Cyrene. Jesus, the Son of Man gives these and other characters more time and space than they were given in the Gospels and allows each of them to tell what they saw, heard, thought and felt about Jesus in their own words.

In The Gospel According to the Son, Norman Mailer does more-or-less the same thing. While in the Gospels which appear in the Bible, we hear about the life and work of Jesus from people who heard about him from his disciples, in The Gospel According to the Son, Mailer allows Jesus to tell his own story in `his own words'.

Mailer allows us to imagine how Jesus Christ might have told the story of his own life. He allows us to imagine Christ as a man like any other man and to see some the inner conflict Christ must have felt and experienced and how he resolved or failed to resolve this conflict. Mailer allows us to imagine what Christ might have thought and felt about key stages or events in his life, among them: his birth; his apprenticeship as a carpenter; his relationship with his mother and immediate family; his relationship with his disciples; his relationship with God; his relationship with religious leaders of the time; his death; his resurrection and the wars that have been fought in his name.

Both Jesus, the Son of Man and The Gospel According to the Son are written in language that is accessible and easy to read. They contain nuggets of observations on life and spirituality that encourage the reader to think about life, religion and his/her relationship with others and with God. The books also have the effect of making the reader want to go back and re-familiarize himself/herself with the Gospels and the account they present of the life and work of Jesus Christ.

[This article was first published by OhmyNews International, [...]


Group Analytic Art Therapy
Group Analytic Art Therapy
by Gerry McNeilly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars McNeilly's new book fills a gap in group art therapy literat, 2 Mar 2006
In Group Analytic Art Therapy, Gerry McNeilly observes:
“Compared with that for individual art therapy, the literature in the group field is deficient. There is only one art therapy journal in the [United Kingdom] UK, Inscape, and this has published little on group art therapy … I’m aware of only two books that address groups specifically from a psychotherapy perspective: Group Interactive Therapy (Waller 1993) and Art Psychotherapy Groups (Skaife and Huet 1998), which covers a wide range of clinical settings from a number of British art therapists.”
He contrasts this state of affairs in British art therapy with the United States where a large body of art group literature has been produced even though very little of that literature considers art psychotherapy groups.
McNeilly’s Group Analytic Art Therapy therefore fills a gap in group art therapy literature on both sides of the Atlantic.
One of the book’s main strengths is that it highlights the deficiencies that are there in group art therapy literature and the sparseness of research in art therapy in the UK. It reinforces the need for art therapy theoreticians and professionals working in therapeutic communities to continue researching aspects of their profession and to write about their efforts. It encourages theoreticians and professionals to reflect on their practice and to share those reflections with the wider community of professionals working in therapeutic enterprises.
The book has 11 chapters and is in two parts, “The Origins” and “The Portuguese Papers – new developments”. It outlines the history of the theory and practice of group analytic art therapy. It builds on key concepts of group analysis and discusses how these can be adapted to art therapy groups.
In the six chapters that make up Part One, McNeilly recounts how his involvement with groups, in general, and group art therapy, in particular, started and developed. He examines, among other things, the concepts of the ‘group as a whole’; ‘the individual in the group’; transference constellations; and the place of interpretation and the bearing this has on the individual, the group and the therapist in a group art therapy session.
In Part Two of the book, he extends the well-held perspectives on the triangle concept, in art therapy, into a more three-dimensional appreciation that is more integrated with group analytic approaches. He looks at resonance and links it to intuition and wisdom, complexity, subtlety and simplicity. He illustrates how the concepts of cross-fertilisation and grafting, as well as the interconnectedness between content, process and the structural aspects of group analysis are shown in the relationship between the art and the verbal group. He also discusses the matrix, the concept of the pattern and defines ‘the fullness of emptiness’ as a bond between matrix and pattern.
Throughout Group Analytic Art Therapy, McNeilly draws on his own experiences as a child, a student, musician, group analytic therapy trainee and art therapist. He presents his material in a manner that is easy to read and follow.
Hopefully, when he and Jessica Kingsley Publishers prepare the book’s second edition, they will further tighten their hold over how it is structured and eliminate some the few flaws that the book has. For example, on page 154, when McNeilly writes: “Intuition is spoken less about less in group analysis …”, did he intend to say “Intuition is spoken about less in group analysis …”? On page 171, he tells us that Helen drew seven ghosts but then goes on to talk about the nine ghosts and how these represent the age at which she was abandoned.
On page 52, McNeilly uses a quotation from when Foulkes was writing about the group and the individual and goes on to argue, among other things, that with Foulkes’ definition in mind, it is easy to see how the score of group analysis can be transcribed to group analytic art therapy. On page 188-189, McNeilly uses the same quotation and makes the same comments he had given on page 52.
Group Analytic Art Therapy would be more effective if the narrative that runs through it is as chronological as possible. An attempt has been made to do this but the reader still constantly has to flick back to earlier pages and chapters to revisit and review concepts alluded to or discussed earlier that are mentioned again in later pages and chapters. Keeping the narrative strictly chronological will reduce unnecessary repetition.
In addition to the above, in almost every chapter, McNeilly tells the reader that he is not going to or cannot discuss certain aspects of the subject because space is limited. He also uses the phrase, “In conclusion …”, in almost every chapter. These two habits are irritating and do not really add anything to the narrative. They disrupt the narrative.
In spite of these minor flaws, Gerry McNeilly’s Group Analytic Art Therapy is an important contribution to the relatively still small body of group art therapy literature. Art therapists, group analysts, psychotherapists and art educators will find the book useful for the insight it gives into the theory and practice of group art psychotherapy.


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