Archives: Things we don’t talk about

Things We Don’t Talk About: Jesus and Depression

Have you ever found a scripture that changed your life?

I did, and it’s not even Jesus who said it. It’s not from the gospels or Paul.

It’s actually our psalm today, Psalm 84.

Take a look back at it in your bulletin if you’d like—sometimes the psalm can kind of speed past us in the service and we don’t always absorb it—and I’ll tell you how Psalm 84 and I began our journey together.

I’ve dealt with clinical depression all of my adult life.

There were signs that it was emerging in high school and then it really crashed in on me catastrophically my freshman year in college.

The bottom dropped out of my mind and spirit quite abruptly.

Those of you who have dealt with this yourselves or walked this with family members know what it’s like to see the world in grayscale, as though your body has somehow biologically lost the ability to see color.

You know what it’s like to have to fight every single day to get out of bed, to struggle to fulfill the most basic responsibilities, to feel your world shrinking smaller and smaller around you.

You know what it’s like to feel suicide creeping closer and closer, tempting you with the idea of such blessed rest and peace, until the only things holding you back are the pain of your friends and family and frankly, the effort it would actually take to kill yourself.

Most people who have suicidal ideation have one specific temptation for how they would go about it.

For me it was driving my car into the supports of an overpass on the freeway.

At one point my junior year I had to give my car keys to my roommate because I didn’t trust myself not to do it.

I know I’m not the only one who’s been there. Continue reading

Things We Don’t Talk About: Jesus and Addiction

We think of sin as the universal human problem, but I’ve been thinking about it this week, and I believe that sin may be actually only an outgrowth of a deeper problem.

I think we might be able to classify the true root of most of our troubles with a more modern word that no one in the Bible would have been familiar with: addiction.

It’s comforting to think of addiction as someone else’s problem. Addiction is the stuff of meth labs and crack pipes.

But as our St. Luke’s Bible study talked together on Wednesday, we agreed that addiction is actually a universal condition.

We’re all addicted to something.

For some it’s alcohol or prescription medication, for others it’s food or sex, for others it’s shopping or video games or gossip or exercise.

So why do I call addiction deeper than sin? Continue reading

Things We Don’t Talk About: Jesus and Mental Illness

Today is Superbowl Sunday, that festival of all the sacred American traditions: football, junk food, and most of all, commercials.

If you think of the Superbowl as a high holy day of secular American culture, you will notice that people are much more demonstrative at this ritual than they are in most churches.

Even stoic, polite Episcopalians lose their inhibitions when their favorite team is down to 4th and goal with one minute to go.

Nor am I innocent of devotion to this American religion. I may be a priest of the Episcopal church first, but second, I love football.

I mean, I really love football, in the most undignified way possible.

I used not to care about sports at all, and then once I got to college and had a big state university team to root for, I started to get interested. Four years of college plus three of graduate school transformed me into a rabid fan–win or lose, rain or snow, you’ll find me in the stands for a home game and in front of the T.V. for any team I can watch.

I have to watch myself or I’ll be one of those crazies who paint their stomachs and scream like banshees into the camera on the front row of the stands.

What makes people act so crazy at sports events?

And why do we find this type of behavior perfectly normal and acceptable in this particular context?

Anyone who painted their stomach and screamed random slogans at church or in the office or at the grocery store would be thought to be insane.

And we Americans do not do well with insanity.

You can have almost any medical problem in the world and still be taken seriously and treated like a human being, except for mental illness.

Why is that? Continue reading

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