CONTENT WARNING: suicide, suicidal ideation
I grow weary of Christian mysticism.
This Sunday, the only church I went to was Grace North Church, and I was playing bass again this week. The Gospel reading was The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), and I had a very difficult time following the preacher’s connection in his sermon illustration to the possible meaning(s) of this reading.
The sermon illustration revolved around the life, and death, of a man with depression who had been known to the pastor. This man’s life ended in suicide. The preacher spoke of the anger at this man’s funeral.
Weariness #1: I grow tired of hearing about how angry people are after somebody commits suicide.
Is it so difficult to have compassion for those who commit suicide? Just fucking imagine: if they’d been shown a little more fucking compassion during their lifetimes maybe they wouldn’t have fucking committed fucking suicide. Maybe if mental illness wasn’t so fucking stigmatized and fucking healthcare providers would understand that there a lot of things that can’t be fixed in six psychotherapy sessions, more people would be getting the fucking help they need to stay alive. Stop fucking blaming the suicidal. We grow weary of that.
The pastor went on to preach about how his generation, Generation X, wasn’t born into a culture in which the world had intrinsic value. Instead, his generation—my generation—had to manufacture reasons why the world had value. He also preached about how Barack Obama had said, “Hope is an audacious thing,” and how such a statement wouldn’t have made any sense “twenty years ago.”
Weariness #2: I grow tired of those who presume to speak for an entire generation.
I, too, am from Generation X. A great many of us recognize the intrinsic value of the world. Do not attempt to speak for me until you have asked me what I think and how I feel. Even then, do not dare to quote me out of context. Speak for yourself only, and refrain from making sweeping generalizations of entire segments of the population.
As a member of Generation X, the pastor should also remember that twenty years ago was at the tail end of the AIDS epidemic, an epidemic that ravaged my communities. The existence of this epidemic was praised by conservative so-called Christians as being “the gay cancer” and the plague mentioned in Revelation that had come to cleanse the world of homosexuals. Then, they realized straight people could get it too, but still blamed them gays. We had hope during those years, those decades. We had to. And our hope was every bit as audacious then as it was during Barack Obama’s campaign. Don’t erase the hell we’ve lived through for the sake of a sermon illustration.
The pastor preached about how if there was a greater foundation of religion in the lives of Generation X and the following generation, the Millennials, there would be less of a need for antidepressants.
Weariness #3: I grow tired of those who speak out against medications, especially psych medications.
This also ties into weariness #2, as once again the pastor made sweeping generalizations, not to mention he left Generation Y, the generation between GenX and the Millennials. And while he did mention using antidepressants in the past, he seemed to be implying that one could just pray one’s mental illness away. And, it’s not that GenX, GenY, and the Millennials lack religion and that’s why we use medications to help with our mental illnesses, it’s that we reject the suffering. While the quote, “God helps those who help themselves,” is not in the Bible, it’s one of the most powerful quotes out there. Those of us in GenX, as well as those in GenY and the Millennial generation, are seeking help for ourselves in the various ways that work best for us. Judge not.
He made some other comments that just didn’t make sense to me, such as asserting that beliefs can be proven. Um, no, that’s not necessarily true. Facts can be proven. Beliefs, especially religious beliefs, are the type that probably can’t be proven. That’s why we believe; that’s what faith is.
He also said that the promise of a Dead Man living again is the source of hope, and isn’t it a wonderful thing. “If a Dead Man can live, the impossible becomes possible.” Of course a Dead Man can live. That which is remembered never dies.
I grow weary of Christian mysticism. It offers great promises for after we’re dead, but leaves a great deal to be desired regarding the suffering in this life. Lack of faith isn’t what caused me to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, dermatillomania, and psychosis. Rather, the various forms judgmental abuse I deal with on a daily basis are the “adverse experiences” that have led to my mental illnesses. And for the healthcare-industrial complex apologizers: no, that’s not me making things up. That’s the professional opinions of the psychologist and psychiatrist I’m working with in order to stay the fuck alive.
If your Christian mysticism doesn’t lead to practical theology and works of faith, your mysticism is worthless to me. Maybe it’s time for me to find another church.
Amen, and Blessed be.