Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before…

Today is a good day.

I write this blog primarily for me.  I’ll be honest.  This allows me to work through issues and problems (and the good things, when there are some) of my life, knowing that everything I do is through the lens of living with depression.  I don’t get many views, which is ok (Not really, but I accept it. I would love for lots of people to read what I write.), and even fewer comments.  But I received a comment today that really bothered me.  I don’t censor comments that people write, so I approved it and responded, and I’m not going to go back and take what the person wrote and my response and put it here, but I’m going to expand upon what I perceived and my response.

If you’ve ever attended some sort of religious practice/school consistently, you’ve heard the joke about the flood, and the guy on the roof, and praying to God to rescue him, and people come by to resuce him, but he says he’s waiting for God, and he ends up drowning, and in heaven, he confronts God, asking why he didn’t save him, and God says he sent all those people.  If you haven’t, well, it’s not so much of a joke as a parable, but it’s best told like a joke.  Trust me on that one. Anyway, it’s that sort of theology that bothers me, not that God intervenes in our lives through mediaries, but that everything can be solved by praying to God and he’ll take care of it all.

It’s not a theology that I subscribe to, but if it is for you, then who am I to tell you not to hold to it; you might want to consider stopping reading this post right now then.  I find that it is lacking in nuance and real-world situations.  It’s fine to believe in God (or a higher power, you’re preference may vary).  It’s fine to put your trust in God.  It’s fine to believe God has a purpose for you.  What is not fine is that if you pray hard enough, and do things exactly as written in the Bible, well then everything will be peachy keen

My one big problem with this theology is how utterly simplistic it is.  Pray, accept Jesus as your savior, and everything will be ok.  It’s extremely egotistical.  Maybe that’s fine for you, but how does that help others, because isn’t that what Christianity is about?  It’s no different than those televangelists who preach the “prosperity gospel.”  And I don’t like how I am, so if I pray, I’ll be different, because accepting that even if it were possible, does that mean God made you wrong on purpose?  (Or is there some “sin” that I have that I don’t know about, or maybe it’s some ancestors “sin”?)

Praying that I won’t suffer from depression any more isn’t going to cure it.  I am sure that there would be people who would say that it’s because I don’t have enough faith is why it doesn’t happen, as though prayer is a simple panacea for all ills.  If that were true, the world would look a lot different than it does.  We are who we are.  We are constructed the way we were, whether by some divine plan or through simple randomness, and that is what we have to live with.  Does anybody really want to be this way?  If there was some way to change myself so I wasn’t depressed, living with the fear of succumbing to the bad thoughts, don’t you think I would do it.  Do you really think I haven’t tried everything, even prayer?

I shouldn’t be bothered by this as much as I am.  I’ll admit that.  But, I suppose, the entire purpose of my blog is to help people think about things, let them know that they’re not alone in suffering from depression, and maybe, just maybe, we all can get through this together.  Some simplistic theology is anathema to all of this and, quite frankly, counterproductive.

By the way, I don’t like to often speak up about this, but here are my bona fides: 17 years of Catholic education; Minor in Theology; continued study of theology outside of a school setting focusing primarily on early Christianity, the Vatican II and post Vatican II church, including the retrenchment of the curia following the close of the council, and mysticism, including Catholic mysticism, eastern mysticism and Islamic mysticism.  So, I think I might have some idea what I’m talking about when it comes to Christian religion.

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3 thoughts on “Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before…

  1. I agree with you. Specially on that story. God created us and gave us the brain and soul to think and judge… If we don’t use it then we are failing as God’s best creation. May be for some people prayer can’t cure depression. From my experience, prayer has helped me in every aspect of my life. Now helping me fighting depression. When I start to pray, the depression doesn’t go away, but the prayer helps me to calm myself down and think positive. May be it is coming from my believe, nothing else. But I know I get motivated, inspired and relieved after doing a prayer, so I use it anyway. Nice writing btw 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comments. I do believe that there is a spiritual aspect that is beneficial to dealing with life in general, and depression specifically here. I just think it’s a little more complex than what the one comment I was writing about would lead us to believe. And, the one aspect I didn’t address, is the dichatomy that theologies like that present. Maybe it is something that works for some people, but how it was presented was as an either/or situation, and not as a suggestion, but almost like it was a command. I will admit that I don’t respond well to being told what to do, but it is not a structure that I find appealing.
      Thanks for the comment on my writing. I don’t get that very often. If ever.

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