Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet
April 2009, Jossey-Bass
"What courage it took for this priest and poet to explore
depression in people of faith. Barbara Crafton writes with
exquisite nakedness about the futile search for meaning in the
meaninglessness of despair. Her own salvation is a beacon to those
who believe God means them to suffer in order to understand."
—Gail Sheehy, author, Passages; Understanding Men's Passages
"Writing well about depression is not nearly as challenging as
surviving the beast, but it is still a hard thing to do. Having
written about my own depression, I can say with some authority that
Barbara Crafton, a fellow sufferer, writes wonderfully well on this
difficult topic.... This book offers truth about the devastating
darkness of this disease and about the hope that makes it possible
to find one's way back to the light. Barbara Crafton offers up her
truth with humor and gritty stories as well as candor and care....
May the many who suffer?and those who care for them, read this
book, shed the shame, and find the new life that awaits them on the
—Parker J. Palmer, author, A Hidden Wholeness, Let Your Life Speak, and The Courage to Teach
"Having known the tension of faith and depression in her own
life, Barbara Crafton offers us wisdom that comes from years of
reflection, of faithful practice, of knowing 'dark is not dark to
you, O Lord.' (Psalms 139:11) She has no truck with pablum
Christianity; she knows that faith that does not meet our darkest
days is no faith at all?. Crafton offers sound insight and speaks
the truth in love, offering hope and acceptance to those of us who
struggle with depression."
—Mary C. Earle, author, Broken Body, Healing Spirit: Lectio Divina and Living with Illness and Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness
Prologue: What We’re Talking About.
1. Jesus Wept.
2. A Learning Experience.
3. I Just Don’t Feel Anything.
4. Trouble in Paradise.
The Magic Kingdom.
5. Charged with the Care of Souls.
6. The Defendant as Prosecutor.
7. This Is My Last Hope.
8. Sorrowful Mysteries.
9. The Dark Night.
Inferno, Canto I.
10. Words Fail Me.
11. Wanting to Die.
To Be or Not to Be.
12. The Family Disease.
–Library Journal (March 2009) Starred Review
“Let go and let God”, “Prayer is the answer”, and “Everything happens for a reason” can all seem like trite (and often inept) advice for people of faith traveling the depths of depression. Years of teaching about the joys and comforts of faith, the importance of trusting in God, and the instructive value of suffering, can cause sufferers to feel that God shares their disappointment in themselves.
In JESUS WEPT: When Faith & Depression Meet (Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint; April 2009; $19.95 / Cloth; ISBN: 978-0-470-37195-4) Episcopal priest and writer Barbara C. Crafton uses her own bout of depression as a touchstone for exploring both the positive and negative effects of faith on those struggling with depression.
Religious people face unique challenges when experiencing depression. Sufferers often attribute their condition to something they can control or, worse yet, something they’ve brought on themselves. Instead of seeking appropriate treatment, they can become immobilized by deep shame and stigma within their religious community.
Despite the challenges, the life of faith also brings together unique resources for dealing with depression’s gravity; a powerful mythology about resurrection and healing, a community that, at its best, envelopes the poor in spirit, and an ancient practice of prayer that has taken sorrow seriously for thousands of years.
For those wondering where God is during their own (or a loved one’s) pain and suffering, JESUS WEPT provides an honest response. As noted author Parker Palmer advised, “May the many who suffer from this death-in-life, and those who care for them, read this book, shed the shame, and find the new life that awaits them on the other side.”
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