The Freedom of Years by Harriet & Donald Mowat
A minister or pastoral worker who is wishing to reflect on the witness of their church to those no longer young would be well served by this book
The Freedom of Years - ageing in perspective
By Harriet & Donald Mowat
Reviewer John Rackley
The greatest moral question facing us in the 21st century is: what is ageing for? Harriet and Donald Mowat agree with this statement of James Woodward. They write from a lifetime in medical life and social science focussing on ageing.
They write: we are trying to see beyond the idea that ageing is just about decline and painful joints. Nor is it about the time of life when those whom we love get ill and sometimes die. Rather whatever else it is about, ageing must be about changing and deepening our understanding of our place, in and outside time, which as we all know can be a struggle.
So all of life is an ageing process. It is also a spiritual journey; spiritual in the sense of the need to seek purpose and meaning. So their book includes chapters on human development theory, attitudes toward and the discontents of ageing, midlife and beyond, retirement and the disciplines and virtues that accompany the practice of spiritual ageing.
As we read about research, ideas and theory we also journey with Angus and Josephine; two imaginary characters that live their own ageing for us. They sound a ring of truth.
Whether or not the purpose of ageing is the greatest moral question of the 21st century, it is certainly a neglected one both in our society and sadly in churches; which have an enervating ambiguity toward 'people of a certain age’.
BRF is to be commended in publishing a number of books on ageing in later years from such authors as David Winter and Wanda Nash, as well as setting up a programme of resources for the spiritual journey of older people including the ministry of Anna Chaplains. This book bears the name of this programme and provides background reading for this study.
A minister or pastoral worker who is wishing to reflect on the witness of their church to those no longer young would be well served by this book. Its theology is implicit but it longs for people to know their God in all places and at all times.
John Rackley is a Baptist minister living in Leicestershire