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Thursday, 31 October 2013

'Before I Die Again' by Chad Varah

I admit I picked this up because I wanted to learn about the founding of the Samaritans, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole book interesting and well written. Chad Varah certainly had an interesting (and incredibly busy!) life. From the start it is obvious he is very clear on what he believes and isn't going to make any apologies for that.

As a clergyman some of his views may come as a surprise to many readers. I think he had it spot on in his interpretation of Christianity though - focussed entirely on love, and not following prejudices and discriminations that have sadly been present for many believers throughout history. His acceptance of homosexuality, and openness in talking about sexual issues may not seem such a big deal today, but when the Samaritans was founded there was far less understanding and discussion of such issues. He writes about how the kinds of problems people contact the Samaritans about have changed as society's attitude has changed over time. 

Once the Samaritans began to grow it seems his life was pretty much non-stop. He lived a remarkable life and travelled the world (several times over!) but there's a humility obvious, and a real appreciation of the hard work and commitment of all the volunteers. This really is a brilliant read. Surprising, funny, moving, and, above all, inspirational.

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