Archive for June, 2004

Giving up

Monday, June 21st, 2004

I say let me never be complete. I say let me never be content. I say deliver me from Swedish furniture. I say deliver me from clever art. I say deliver me from clear skin and perfect teeth. I say you have to give up. I say evolve and let the chips fall where they may.

Recently I have felt the need to give up to God. To surrender. To sacrifice myself, maybe.

I read recently the bit where Jesus says we should take on his yoke (Matthew 11.29-30), and I feel like I’m starting to have some way of understanding that.

When I give up to God I feel free.

What? Weird, I know, but I do – when I give him control I feel free of the “yoke” – the weight of trying to do things which are impossible, like controlling my life and doing the right thing every time.

The other day I said to God in the morning that I gave that whole day to him and he could use me for whatever he wanted. I spent most of the afternoon locked in a really unpleasant argument about Christianity with some of my colleagues, which left me pretty bruised, but which I think was what God wanted me to do that day (I didn’t start the conversation at all). What could be more relieving for a Christian than feeling that God is going to guide you the way he wants you to go?

That kind of bittersweet experience is exactly what I get from Jesus’ stuff about the yokes – you give up one yoke to take on another, but it’s better than the first one, but it’s still a yoke, etc.

This is going to sound pretty weird to some people, and it’s certainly a new thing for me to trust God that he wants the best for me, and I’m sure it won’t last, but hey, maybe you should try giving up to God.

In a way it is quite like the quote above from Fight Club. The relief of letting go and letting the chips fall as they may, of giving up trying to control and allowing God to work around you – it’s good when I do it.

Of course it lasts about 5 minutes for me before I start prising back control, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

So every morning I say the same thing to God – I give you today and you can use me how you like, and I try to mean it, and I wait and see how the chips fall…

Imitators Of Paul

Monday, June 14th, 2004

From what I remember from the local Parish newsletters; Apostle Paul
alongside Peter is represented by the “Book” along the
“Sword.”
Ah, he was the one who could be anything and everything to everyone
and anyone who were bound by Laws and different cultures away from godly worship.
Babel, confusion or lost to Darkness.

Peter described him as having the grace of wisdom – difficult for
babes without understanding – given to him.
That was the Paul of Tarsus a
man versed in Law.

But these days it is wise to admit we know nothing.
Wiser still to hate to know anything,

Sensitivity has become a curse to society
And conscience that small voice is suffocated every season,
the Old Paul.

The Shakespeares of today have locked their own selves in their ego-
asylums with heartfelt Sacrificial poses;
Asking,
Knocking,
Seeking to be swallowed for all their nerves twinges
into a new kind of Paul, a Mr. Hyde kind to ease the imbalances.
A neo-paulinelike creation. In vogue without introspection.

Already! This is the age for your liberal legacies! This is that peak
of knowledge that the Romans killed for! This is your world growing
smaller and progressing still with no structures nor insurances to bind us.
These are not the means of which Luther had hoped for when he
nailed those “95 Theses” to exercise your faith!
But alas! Now behold, this new creation living re-inventions of Paul.
A “Post-Modern Paul,” a Paul versed choice.
In “mass choices” of himself, who he is and what the world can make of him.

Where art thou O’ Interior man? To be saying today: “be imitators of
me as I was of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Where art thou O’ wise man? That once said I am what I am?

Depression in Christians: Essay by a Teen

Monday, June 7th, 2004

(I originally wrote this essay in a fit of frustration and also because I needed a subject for my Psychology final exam paper. Needless to say, I think I pretty much fulfilled both needs in that respect. Also, if you’d like to learn more about the connections between faith and depression check out the “Depression and Religion” section of www.depressionforums.com.)

Depression in Christians

By Meagan Gann

There is something uncanny about the medical condition called depression, namely in that it is inherently indiscriminate and respects no persons, afflicting the very greatest individuals as well as the most humble. Teenagers, senior citizens, and even small children can be affected at any moment by what is commonly referred to as “the dark night of the soul.” This, naturally, would also include ardent believers in Jesus Christ. As a Christian who suffers from depression herself, I hope to dispel the stigma, myths, and misunderstandings surrounding this disease. I hope to communicate to others that it is not a disease in the conventional sense, one that can be effectively treated with pills and then forgotten about. Depression is simultaneously a spiritual, biological, emotional, and physical disorder, characterized by intensely complex psychological issues. It is not, as the authors of A New Light on Depression would put it, merely a “case of negative self-talk,” or a “spiritual weakness,” or “unresolved anger.” I intend to bring others to adequate awareness of depression by highlighting its most fundamental definition, its myths and misunderstandings, and its spiritual gifts and benefits.

What depression actually happens to be is often confused by believers and nonbelievers alike. According to its most common definition, it is a “down” period in which an otherwise healthy person is feeling glum or unhappy. Positive external events often improve their moods, however; and they quickly forget whatever it was that made them unhappy. In a case of clinical depression, however, a person continues to suffer no matter how many good things come his or her way. Other symptoms include undereating (or overeating), feelings of worthlessness, inability to enjoy formerly pursued activities, recurring thoughts of suicide, lack of energy, and/or existential anxiety. Depression.com outlines the four types of depression: dysthymic/developmental depression, situational depression (also called adjustment disorder), spiritual/existential depression, and clinical/biological depression.

According to several articles on the christianteens.about.com website, “sometimes the Christian view of mental illness is distressing.” A New Light on Depression’s Harold Koenig and David Biebel agree, going on to add that “most Christians don’t want to be reminded that life isn’t one long, long climb up Sunshine Mountain, faces all aglow, with God handing out smiley-face stickers along the way.”Because of this many Christians will deny that their depressed brethren really have anything wrong with them. They often hold the suffering person at arm’s length and refuse to acknowledge his or her pain, as evidenced by such remarks as “How can you be this way when you have so much going for you?” and “Well, listen to everything that’s happened to me this month”; and I’m not depressed!” Obviously, these people “aren’t projecting their own self-pity onto the depressed person or they really don’t care about that person’s needs,” write Koenig and Biebel. To that end, many myths and misunderstandings concerning depression among believers have been proliferating for the last several years. Most prominent among them is the erroneous assumption that depressed Christians “have weak faith” or “have not properly repented of their sins.” This could not be farther from the truth; as many whom are depressed have confessed sins both real and imaginary to God many times, to no avail. Because they are unable to feel God’s reassuring presence, they think that they are failures as Christians; and similar accusations from undepressed believers only serve to expound upon their guilt. On the other end of the spectrum, non-religious people tend to accuse their depressed brethren of “feeling sorry for yourself” and that “you’re just depressed because you want to be depressed.” These beliefs, too, are false, and probably only serve to worsen the situation because they suggest that mental illness is simply a “mood” that one can “snap out of.” The webmaster of Wing of Madness could not have put it better when she said: “Depression is an illness” would you ask someone to ‘snap out of’ high blood pressure or diabetes?” To that end, she warns, “Platitudes do not cure depression.”

What does cure depression is a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant medication. There is absolutely no shame in all in treating yourself this way, as the Bible does not forbid medicine use of any kind (and, moreover, encourages people to keep themselves both mentally and physically healthy). And while depression is a terribly debilitating disease that prevents others from walking through life with confidence and joy, it does have its benefits, especially in regards to one’s religious life. Joanne Blum, a Ph.D. who struggled with depression for years, affirms this point in her article “Food for New Thought – Spiritual Gifts of Depression”: “Despair has been my greatest teacher. As I think back on the serious depressions of my life, which for me have come in 5- to 7-year cycles, I realize that all the big growth spurts of my spiritual life have come from those dark sojourns – and the grace that brought me through them.” In one of her worst periods of depression, “I found myself at a Religious Science church where a healing meditation was in progress… and I made a life decision, once and for all, to try God. Such is the tentative beginning of faith.” She concludes that, “Perhaps it is especially in hell that we lea God’s grace is with us because we must dive deep for it. Because we are motivated to raise our voices and ask for it. And because we finally have enough empty space within, vacated by our egotistical all-knowingness, to receive it.” In other words, depression renders a person into such an empty shell of his or her former self that God can finally come along and fill the vacuum with Himself.

I wish that no one ever had to experience the “slough of despond” (as John Bunyan describes depression in Pilgrim’s Progress); but the fact remains that people do, and that the rest of us must work to be compassionate and understanding while searching for an effective treatment. Depression is such a complex disease that no two people will ever respond in the exact same way to such medication as Zoloft or Prozac. It primarily stems from spiritual, biological, emotional, and physical issues (as evidenced by the many different types of depression out there).

Hopefully I have brought Christians to a better understanding of depression by outlining its basic definition, its ever-prevalent myths, and its religious benefits.

Depression in Christians

By Meagan Gann

There is something uncanny about the medical condition called depression, namely in that it is inherently indiscriminate and respects no persons, afflicting the very greatest individuals as well as the most humble. Teenagers, senior citizens, and even small children can be affected at any moment by what is commonly referred to as “the dark night of the soul.” This, naturally, would also include ardent believers in Jesus Christ. As a Christian who suffers from depression herself, I hope to dispel the stigma, myths, and misunderstandings surrounding this disease. I hope to communicate to others that it is not a disease in the conventional sense, one that can be effectively treated with pills and then forgotten about. Depression is simultaneously a spiritual, biological, emotional, and physical disorder, characterized by intensely complex psychological issues. It is not, as the authors of A New Light on Depression would put it, merely a “case of negative self-talk,” or a “spiritual weakness,” or “unresolved anger.” I intend to bring others to adequate awareness of depression by highlighting its most fundamental definition, its myths and misunderstandings, and its spiritual gifts and benefits.

What depression actually happens to be is often confused by believers and nonbelievers alike. According to its most common definition, it is a “down” period in which an otherwise healthy person is feeling glum or unhappy. Positive external events often improve their moods, however; and they quickly forget whatever it was that made them unhappy. In a case of clinical depression, however, a person continues to suffer no matter how many good things come his or her way. Other symptoms include undereating (or overeating), feelings of worthlessness, inability to enjoy formerly pursued activities, recurring thoughts of suicide, lack of energy, and/or existential anxiety. Depression.com outlines the four types of depression: dysthymic/developmental depression, situational depression (also called adjustment disorder), spiritual/existential depression, and clinical/biological depression.

According to several articles on the christianteens.about.com website, “sometimes the Christian view of mental illness is distressing.” A New Light on Depression’s Harold Koenig and David Biebel agree, going on to add that “most Christians don’t want to be reminded that life isn’t one long, long climb up Sunshine Mountain, faces all aglow, with God handing out smiley-face stickers along the way.”Because of this many Christians will deny that their depressed brethren really have anything wrong with them. They often hold the suffering person at arm’s length and refuse to acknowledge his or her pain, as evidenced by such remarks as “How can you be this way when you have so much going for you?” and “Well, listen to everything that’s happened to me this month”; and I’m not depressed!” Obviously, these people “aren’t projecting their own self-pity onto the depressed person or they really don’t care about that person’s needs,” write Koenig and Biebel. To that end, many myths and misunderstandings concerning depression among believers have been proliferating for the last several years. Most prominent among them is the erroneous assumption that depressed Christians “have weak faith” or “have not properly repented of their sins.” This could not be farther from the truth; as many whom are depressed have confessed sins both real and imaginary to God many times, to no avail. Because they are unable to feel God’s reassuring presence, they think that they are failures as Christians; and similar accusations from undepressed believers only serve to expound upon their guilt. On the other end of the spectrum, non-religious people tend to accuse their depressed brethren of “feeling sorry for yourself” and that “you’re just depressed because you want to be depressed.” These beliefs, too, are false, and probably only serve to worsen the situation because they suggest that mental illness is simply a “mood” that one can “snap out of.” The webmaster of Wing of Madness could not have put it better when she said: “Depression is an illness” would you ask someone to ‘snap out of’ high blood pressure or diabetes?” To that end, she warns, “Platitudes do not cure depression.”

What does cure depression is a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant medication. There is absolutely no shame in all in treating yourself this way, as the Bible does not forbid medicine use of any kind (and, moreover, encourages people to keep themselves both mentally and physically healthy). And while depression is a terribly debilitating disease that prevents others from walking through life with confidence and joy, it does have its benefits, especially in regards to one’s religious life. Joanne Blum, a Ph.D. who struggled with depression for years, affirms this point in her article “Food for New Thought – Spiritual Gifts of Depression”: “Despair has been my greatest teacher. As I think back on the serious depressions of my life, which for me have come in 5- to 7-year cycles, I realize that all the big growth spurts of my spiritual life have come from those dark sojourns – and the grace that brought me through them.” In one of her worst periods of depression, “I found myself at a Religious Science church where a healing meditation was in progress… and I made a life decision, once and for all, to try God. Such is the tentative beginning of faith.” She concludes that, “Perhaps it is especially in hell that we lea God’s grace is with us because we must dive deep for it. Because we are motivated to raise our voices and ask for it. And because we finally have enough empty space within, vacated by our egotistical all-knowingness, to receive it.” In other words, depression renders a person into such an empty shell of his or her former self that God can finally come along and fill the vacuum with Himself.

I wish that no one ever had to experience the “slough of despond” (as John Bunyan describes depression in Pilgrim’s Progress); but the fact remains that people do, and that the rest of us must work to be compassionate and understanding while searching for an effective treatment. Depression is such a complex disease that no two people will ever respond in the exact same way to such medication as Zoloft or Prozac. It primarily stems from spiritual, biological, emotional, and physical issues (as evidenced by the many different types of depression out there).

Hopefully I have brought Christians to a better understanding of depression by outlining its basic definition, its ever-prevalent myths, and its religious benefits.

An Unpopular Faith :Christianity

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

When I read the words of the crucified Christ that tells me to “abandon all that I own” I have found it difficult to relate to what others in practical terms believe of this teaching? In our personal fellowship with God what has really been done to liberate ourselves with the wise instructions in these texts of our culturally rich society?

The thought of abandoning or “forsaking all” has not escaped me, and I am sure all of us called at some time or the other have been blessed to contemplate the thoughts of total dependence on God that is if we are honest with ourselves; some do dare.

If the question – to forsake all then live by faith – has come for us at least once, then shouldn’t we consider ourselves blessed to have had the opportunity to come closer to God with God’s mercy? Mercy, because we may not have returned Him the favour of our sincerity in response.

Any one who has read the a fair bit of Mathew (18:28,29) and Luke (12:32 & 14:33) would see repeatedly passages of salvation referring to “only those who forsake are the faithful and are free.”

Is this what Christianity is really is? (Mtw 6:19, 21 24-30).

Are we who are called to be Christians ready or have already forsaken all material affection and that which we rely on for the spreading of the Gospel and the witnessing of Jesus? As other Christ(s)?

If not, then I suppose Christianity is not really as popular as we are lead to believe and is rarely even practiced in material rich nations. I think C.S. Lewis said something about that once which struck me as true. He said: “It’s not that many have become Christians and found that it failed them, but more that they haven’t or couldn’t make the effort to practice (true) Christianity.” I personally don’t know of many people even the most honest who would forsake all for the convictions they felt about what Jesus meant and said according to the Gospels. Though I have known someone who would forsake all for their hard-line opinions (and risk jail for it), which comes close, but not many have I seen to count forsaking all as a valuable wise decision for their faith.

So what does this mean? That we didn’t take the Gospels literally? That we didn’t take him literally? And if so are we the cause of our own disbelief and or miserable lack of faith because we have not tried with grace true Christianity? This unpopular faith?

Well, those who want to hear something real,
Looking for something true
If you have come to refute
This one is for you!

R.Olarn

http://www.geocities.com/resolution1948/index.html