John A. H. Dempster, born in 1952, studied at Wishaw High School and Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities. He worked in school and public libraries, ultimately specialising in library IT. He has been involved in churches for most of his life, and is married with two grown children.
In Choosing Joy: a memoir of spiritual trauma survived John Dempster tells his seven-decade story in a deftly-woven mosaic of memories.
It's a story of evolving spiritual belief: John describes the negative impact of some beliefs and practices in the Lanarkshire evangelical churches where he was raised; he describes his life-long quest for a way of believing which is joyful, life-affirming, and rings true to his own experience; he describes the challenges of dealing with the effects of early indoctrination; he charts his engagement with Reformed Theology, the charismatic movement, post-modernism, and most recently faith 'deconstruction' and 'reconstruction'. But will he find a place to stand?
Choosing Joy also shares John's experience of mental health issues ÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢â¬Å the anxiety and depression which complicated his quest for inner homecoming. We journey with him through the times of panic, fear and suicidal impulses. He describes the therapies he receives and the ways of coping he instinctively develops. But will he ever understand, and make peace with this inheritance of sadness?
The book covers every aspect of John's life: his troubled relationship with his parents; his difficult schooldays; his roles in church leadership; his work as a librarian ultimately specialising in library system management; his challenges in developing relationships with women; his indebtedness to the loving support of friends; his marriage to Lorna; his role as father.
It is above all the story of a man resolved to 'choose joy' -- to live, regardless of his emotions, in the light of a fundamental love and joy lying at the heart of all things. But will this vision of joy be strong enough to sustain him?
This vivid, unforgettable book is for people who have been wounded by their experiences of church; for those with mental health issues and their families; for those struggling to free themselves from the burden of other peopleÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢âÂ¢s expectations and find their authentic selves; for those undergoing 'deconstruction' of their previous Christian beliefs.
"Choosing Joy is a work of integrity and courage, soul-stirring and faith-enhancing" says Church of Scotland Mission Development Worker Steve Aisthorpe. Author Graham Bullen describes it as a 'universal, humane and genuinely moving' story. While retired psychologist Donald Mowat suggests that all 'Scots wha hae angst' should read this book: it is relevant far beyond Scotland.