Beyond all the vision quests, Scripture explanations, and spiritual exhortations, there are certain regions of human experience that are so painful, so difficult, that even religious writers touch on them rarely and with reluctance. This season, two brave books take a frank look at depression and forgiveness. Crafton, an Episcopal priest and founder of The Geranium Farm (www.geraniumfarm.org), approaches the subject of depression with astonishing candor and courage. Coming to terms with her own experience of this illness, she acknowledges depression's fundamental intractability—its meaninglessness and dullness. While she wisely dispels the Christian fear of suicide ("There's more than enough hell to go around, right here on earth"), she also rejects easy solutions. Love may not be the answer, but it minimizes the worst of the illness.
(March 2009) Starred Review
From the Inside Flap
Drawing from her personal experiences and those of hundreds of others, Episcopal priest Barbara Cawthorne Crafton explores what it means for a person of faith to suffer from depression. Just as no two people are the same, the experience of depression is unique to every individual. Depression's mark on each soul can perplex or even annoy loved ones, friends, and family, while at the same time they want very much to help.
All too often religious people face unique challenges when depression sets in. Jesus Wept explains that faith can be enormously helpful and comforting or can seriously hinder the healing process. Communities of faith and ill-advised teachings can leave sufferers feeling abandoned. They wonder, "Where are the joys and comforts of faith and the power of prayer? How can I trust God? My depression is a sign that I have disappointed God!"
Offering hope to those who suffer, Crafton shows how a life of faith can bring together unique resources for dealing with the dark night of the soul. The ancient practice of prayer, which has taken sorrow seriously for thousands of years, can be a powerful elixir for the spirit. Supportive religious teachings can offer a powerful hope for resurrection and healing. Faith can build a community that, at its best, enshrines love and welcome to the poor in spirit.
Jesus Wept is a valuable resource for those who are finding their way through the darkness of soul and spiritor for those who care for them.