Who can read with profit Reverend Richard Lyon Morgan's 2006 SETTLING IN: MY FIRST YEAR IN A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY?
-- (1) In the first instance previous readers and fans of author Richard L. Morgan will automatically reach for SETTLING IN. He has published much, co-authored monographs with other experts on aging, spirituality and retirement years. The religious publishing house Upper Rooms Books finds ready readers of Morgan's output. He already has a core constituency readership. He knows about aging.
-- (2) In theory, people who, like me, simply wanted an introduction to CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) will reach instinctively for SETTLING IN if they see it mentioned as one of only a handful of books on this subject for general readers. The trouble is that this book is not objective, detached outsider reporting. Its focus is on neither the Presbyterian community where the author lives in western Pennsylvania nor on similar generic CCRCs elsewhere in North America. If basic secular insight into the whys and hows of typical CCRCs is what you are after, you will find that 90% of SETTLING IN is about something else.
-- (3) SETTLING IN is autobiographic, a memoir, annals of months before and a year during the author's first year in a Pennsylvania not-for-profit retirement community. Richard Morgan's priority object to be described is the author himself: his previous life, his experience as chaplain and counselor with growing professional and religious focus on retired people with failing mental faculties and his fears about moving to North Huntingdon, not terribly far from Pittisburgh, into one of four Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare facilities. Morgan was by turns elated, depressed, homesick for North Carolina where he had worked and lived for 50 years, finally knuckling under and coming to terms with his new "monastery," with 1/3 the living space he and his wife were used to, with people not all of whom took life as seriously as Reverend Morgan does, praying much, trying one posture, then another. Finally, he found a new approach that worked for him: contentment in both retirement community and in the North Huntingdon environs, including with a church selected after much searching.
-- (4) This book is unabashedly spiritual, Christian, Protestant. Every chapter has its own recommended outside readings, mostly Biblical, in some instances from other spiritual writers and secular persons with insight, such as Aesop.
For me personally, Richard Lyon Morgan's 2006 SETTLING IN: MY FIRST YEAR IN A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY was not what I expected. I would have preferred more objective reporting and less subjective emoting and agonizing. But I recognize that Richard Lyon Morgan knows whereof he speaks. Previous professional experience with retirement homes had made him fearful of actually deciding to live in one, especially one so far north, with such cold winters and so unfamiliar. My own personal experiences are too unlike the author's for me to develop much empathy. I studied in Austria and Japan and had a three decades career in the U.S. Diplomatic Service. A retirement home was just another "assignment" for me. Novelties, yes. Shrunken living space, yes. Anonymity, less. But I was not rooted in one area the way the author was. My moving into a CCRC in Western North Carolina did not tear me up. So I do not recommend this book for general readers with an interest in CCRCs that is primarily practical, objective and secular.
This is not to deny SETTLING IN its niche. And it is well written and chatty. Its Scripture selections and applications to the author's daily challenges seem apt. Decide for yourself if SETTLING IN is something you choose to read further into.
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