Depression and Dualism

Lately I’ve been thinking (yet again) about depression, and particularly about the ways in which it gets discussed. I periodically run into disputes between those who are convinced that depression is at its core a biological illness, and those who are convinced that it’s a spiritual one. I find myself uncomfortable with both positions, because they both arise from a dualist understanding of the human, one in which spirit and body are qualitatively different things and not really connected to each other. If you take this perspective, you’re likely to conceptualize depression as either a spiritual problem or a physical one–and I’m not crazy about either version. Read More

Religion in . . . (not really) literature

Lately I’ve been reading romantic thrillers (yes, this is my guilty secret after 25 years of reading more redeeming books I started reading romance novels). I’ve found a few authors I like, but I’ve read most of their books, so I’ve been looking for new authors I might like. I looked at some of the Listmania lists on Amazon, and found some suggestions. One of the suggestions was for the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson. What I didn’t realize until I was five or six chapters into the first book is that these are not just romantic suspense novels. They’re Christian romantic suspense novels. And it bugs me. A lot. I really like the characters, and the plot is pretty good, but the discussion of faith and believing makes me want to throw the book across the room. Read More

Religious Differences

I have two friends in particular, one Catholic and one Protestant, with whom I find it remarkably easy to have religious conversations. In terms of explicit doctrinal teachings, we’re often coming from quite different places. Yet somehow we seem to be on the same wavelength religiously. I’ve also met numerous Mormons whom I don’t seem to connect with at all, and in talking to such people I’m not always sure what exactly it means that we’re in the same religion, because we seem to be worlds apart in our religious views. Read More

(The) Bishop

When I was a teenager, one of my good friends omitted the use of an article when talking about the bishop: for example, “I’m going to talk to bishop” as opposed to “I’m going to talk to the bishop.” I figured it was simply a language quirk of her family (and since I come from a family where people use “clo” for the singular of “clothes,” and have invented verbs like “loonify,” I’m hardly in a position to judge anyone else’s use of language as strange.) Read More

Praying in Public

I hate praying in public. I will avoid it at all costs. I’m too conflict avoidant to say “no” if I am directly asked by someone in a class or at the dinner table to pray, but I refuse to volunteer for prayers. When my significant other and I sit down to eat I usurp his right to preside (and ask him to pray) so that I won’t have to do it. Read More

Thinking About the End of the World

I have to confess that I’ve never been terribly interested in eschatology (the study of “last things.”) I remember being anxious about the Second Coming when I was younger, but by the time I was attending Seminary, I found the extended discussion of “signs of the times” and detailed speculations about events described in the book of Revelation to be, quite frankly, boring. The first time you hear that the world is about to end it’s a bit thrilling, but for me at least, it didn’t take much repetition for the excitement to wear off. (The “imminent end of the world” thing also loses a bit of its punch when you realize for just how many years people have been making that claim.) And I found many of the doctrines related to the Second Coming to be so bizarre-sounding that it was difficult to see them as having any significance for my actual life. Read More