David Torkington praises a study of a highly influential Catholic psychiatrist
Jack Dominian Lay Prophet by Jock Dalrymple, Chapmen, £12,50.
ACADEMIC THESES do not travel well into a commercial world where books are expected to be easily digestible and enjoyable. Fr Dalrymple's book is an exception, thanks to his clear mind, unpretentious prose, and the man whose life work he has chosen to explore with a sympathy that does not distort his final critical appraisal.
While it is comparatively easy to criticise Dr Dominian for the limitations of his theological perspective, it is only just, as Fr Dalrymple points out, that this is seen in the context of the narrow and insular theological attitudes that prevailed in the country he has chosen to make his own since 1945, and which dominated his formative years until his "transformation" in the sixties.
If Dr Dominian can he criticised for not engaging in dialogue with other theologians, it should be
recognised that he received nothing but discouragement for taking up psychiatry in the first place from representatives of the church he loved. They no doubt realised that their theology, with its emphasis on the Latin tradition of legal redemption, would be difficult to harmonise with his chosen profession.
It was not choice but necessity that forced Dr Dominian to become a DIY theologian, opening him to understandable criticism. If only he had been educated in the Greek tradition of Physical Redemption of love communicated through touch, his final vision would have been far richer.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I hope this is not the last we will hear from Fr Dalrymple. Perhaps he could do for teachers ,and through them for the young, what Dr Dominion believes is so vital: to prepare the next generation for what previous generations were hardly prepared at all.