Mental health
Church of England

Safespacing the Church: revising doctrine to suit mental health

Mental health matters, right? Yes, of course it does. And the Church of England is right to focus on this often-neglected area of human flourishing and wellbeing, with speeches in Parliament, reports and motions in Synod, and resources which can make a considerable difference both to the lives of the afflicted and in the guidance of those whose vocation it is to minister pastoral and spiritual care. There’s a fine line between helplessly melting into hell and the noetic revelations of the mystic caught up to the third heaven. Discernment is all.

But something is happening to the sap of Church doctrine which is poisoning the fruit on the branches.

Consider the current furore surrounding the nomination of the Rt Rev’d Philip North as the next Bishop of Sheffield. Neither the full and final authority of the Bible nor the doctrine found in the XXXIX Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer or the Ordinal have been adduced to oppose his election. Indeed, there is no doctrinal or procedural reasoning by which his consecration can be opposed at all. Instead, the articles and petitions against him focus on the grief, shock, anger and denial of women clergy, and their levels of  anxiety and distress: “Even if, as we believe, you are committed to unity and justice as our Bishop,” opponents write, “we do need to ask, for the sake of our mental and spiritual health, for the opportunity to understand how your episcopate would not prove divisive..”

What about Philip North’s mental and spiritual health? What about justice for him? What about his liberation, his equality, and his “radical inclusion”? He has been so assailed and stressed by the campaign opposing his translation to Sheffield that he has been forced to go away:

..taking some time for prayer and reflection on retreat. Having heard the criticisms and concerns, alongside the support and affirmation, he rightly feels he needs to spend time in prayer. He will not be making any public statement or entering into further correspondence at this time. I hope you will allow Philip this space and as such direct any further communication to me until the end of his retreat.

You could read quite a lot between those lines: it is on enforced purdah; he needs space to distance himself from his modernising oppressors. He might be depressed, despondent, even suicidal. Does anyone care? If this had been a woman candidate assailed by traditionalists, we’d have surely heard of the harassment and bullying inflicted by the backward-looking misogynist bigots of Anglican conservatism; those who “sacrilise sexism”, as Martyn Percy put it. But, hey, it’s Phil, he’s a bloke, so that’s okay. And he seems to be heterosexual, too, so no problems with his mental fortitude to cope with intolerant speeches by bigots like Andrea Minichiello Williams.

That isn’t a trite point. When the Director of Christian Concern made a perfectly reasonable, cogent, courteous and scriptural speech to Synod in the recent debate on marriage and same-sex relations, this was how Vicky Beeching received it:

Vicky Beeching - Andrea Williams Synod tweet

Mrs Williams didn’t actually say that: she spoke first and foremost of love; she expounded the gospel, the orthodox understanding of marriage, and the moral foundations of holiness. You may demur over whether sex and sexuality are ‘first order’ issues of salvation, but the ultimate judgment lies with God, and He reveals His will in Scripture, which Mrs Williams preached. You may have been thankful that her three “painful” minutes were cut short, but God’s word is eternal: if sexual immorality is no longer an expression of immorality (for that is what this is about), then words cease to have meaning, and faithfulness is robbed of its spiritual sanity.

The assertion appears to be that there is some correlation between the Church’s teaching on same-sex marriage and teenage suicides (/attempts). Ergo, orthodox Christian doctrine is inflicting mental torment, chipping away at young people’s sense of wellbeing, and sanity can only be restored if the malignant cause is eradicated or rendered benign. “It is no secret that the negative stance taken by the Church, and so many individual local churches, has a hugely distressing impact on large numbers of LGB people and leaves countless numbers of them living lives of forced secrecy and dishonesty,” writes the Rev’d Steve Chalke, who adds:

Tragically, it is also common knowledge that the resultant anguish and distress often leads to spiritual, mental and physical harm, and in the worst of cases to people making the desperate decision to take their own life.

So the Church is bullying and overbearing: it inflicts anguish and distress and mental harm. Instead of loving and healing, it hurts people, slowly and systematically driving them out of their minds, often to the point and actuality of suicide. The solution, we are told, is for the Church to become affirming of all sexualities, lifestyles and.. well, of whatever is causing anxiety. It must be “radically inclusive”, as the Inclusive Church preaches:

Inclusive church god judges no one

It becomes difficult in this gospel paradigm to discern why people need Jesus at all: there is no sin, no need for the cross, no judgment, no narrow path to salvation. Church becomes the ultimate safe space: no one is judged because no one can help what they are or stop what they are born to do. The Church’s love must be like rainbow-coloured jellybeans – fiz-wiz bright, popping sweet, crazy gooey and fruity dribbles. There’s nothing nasty at all, and certainly nothing that could possibly cause fear, nervousness, anger, frustration, worry or anxiety.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven‘ (Mt 7:21), says Jesus. Bit stressful, isn’t it? ‘For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified‘ (Rom 2:13), says St Paul. So terribly oppressive. And don’t, whatever you do, talk about sheep and goats: ‘And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal‘ (Mt 25:46). Poor goats. We must include them. It’s an outrageous discrimination; appallingly specieist. The only true mercy is to suspend all moral judgment and responsibility, so these scriptures must be revised.

But instead of revising Church doctrine to suit mental health sensitivities, shouldn’t we be renewing minds to comply with the precepts of God’s holiness? ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God‘ (Rom 12:2). Or is that crass and insensitive? ‘That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness‘ (Eph 4:22-24). Or is that just heaping Pelion upon Ossa?

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?‘ (Lk 6:46) asks Jesus.

“Because I can’t stop the way I am,” we reply. “So you can’t judge me, or rebuke me, or hurt me, or exclude me. And if you do, there’s a chance I might become psychologically unwell and won’t be able to cope.”

“You wouldn’t inflict that on anyone, would you, Lord?”

  • Sarky

    As someone who suffered genuine anxiety after nearly getting killed at work, these people who claim it following perceived victemhood make me sick. I’m lucky, i got loads of support and got over it really quickly. However, if this support is going to ‘snowflakes’, then people in genuine need are missing out due to the lack of resource. It makes me really angry.

    • 1649again

      Good comment. When someone whose opinion meets stiff and cogent argument complains of bullying and marginalisation it dilutes and discredits those who are subject to genuine bullying and marginalisation. This is all about the illiberal left closing dowm free speech.

      • Sarky

        And getting an agenda through unopposed.

      • HedgehogFive

        On the BBC last night, I saw some American Muslims complaining about being “marginalized” as a result of President Trump putting six countries on his no-come list.

        They have learned to talk the talk. But someone should tell them, but even more so hammer it in to the heads of their sympathizers, that Muslim countries are world leaders in not only pushing people to the margin, but even over it.

  • Anton

    Well, what’s new under the sun? Bishop Hugh Montefiore suggested that Jesus was gay 50 years ago. (Check his Wikipedia entry for details.) He died in 2005 and his destination is settled now.

    • IanCad

      I did check Anton. I had no idea. The perversion of man knows no bounds.

    • HedgehogFive

      On a visit to Cambridge not long after that time, I heard that among his colleagues he was widely known as “Montefiasco”.

  • CliveM

    When did saying “no I think you are wrong ” become a mental health issue?

    Let’s be honest there is a lie at the very heart of this. This isn’t about mental health, it’s about controlling and closing down the debate. If you are able to label those who disagree as abusers (of whatever sort), you change the dynamic of the debate from the right or wrongs of the question in hand to, ‘what type of person is it that disagrees’?

  • Anton

    Let us not be surprised. One may view the very crucifixion of Christ himself as a stitch-up by the Pharisees who accused him of hate speech, after he hurt their feelings with the outburst in Matthew 23.

    Would some religious professionals do the same again?

    • 1649again

      How many church leaders today would recognise Jesus if he came again in a similar guise to last time? I often wonder when I hear their pronouncements, see the clothes they wear and the graces they give themselves. [this is equally true of all denominations and free churches, and no denominational points are being scored]

      • Andym

        I am deducing from your comment that you would indeed recognise Jesus. If so, please tell me what to look out for – I will share your thoughts with my clergy acquaintances

        • 1649again

          Then your deduction is wrong.

          • Andym

            So you are in the same boat as today’s church leaders – so why are you criticising them?

          • 1649again

            No. But on the whole they are useless leaders, lacking any ability to convey conviction and clarity rather than doubt and confusion, they struggle to inspire or cleave to fundamental doctrine, are too apologetic, and dress and speak in ways that simply repel normal people, the people they are supposed to help bring to Christ. Out of touch doesn’t quite cover it.

            If Jesus were to return incognito I doubt it would be in the guise of a current church leader of the modern pattern.

          • Andym

            “On the whole” – so it would be quicker to list those that aren’t “useless leaders….”. Who are they?

          • 1649again

            John Paul II for the RCs, Michael Nazir-Ali for the CoE. Can’t work out Sentamu.

        • IanCad

          Oh! I don’t think we would have any trouble recognizing Him; For He will cometh in the clouds; and every eye shall see Him.

        • Sarky

          Big beard, white robes, fluffy bunnies at his feet!!

          • Plus someone who is as Judgmental as hell.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            What are you saying, Hannah?

            There may be layers of sarcasm that I am missing.

          • Hi

            On reflection I have decided to delete that comment. It would provoke more responses that I care to deal with or explain.

  • Malcolm Smith

    It’s interesting that you provided a link to that Jama Pediatrics paper attempting to link same-sex “marriage” and a reduction in teenage suicide attempts. I analysed the whole paper and found the astounding assertion that one in 16 heterosexual teenagers try to kill themselves every year, and that their success rate is less than one in 1,100.
    http://malcolmsmiscellany.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/lies-damned-lies-and-suicide-statistics.html

  • len

    We are living in a society where’ self’ is king.The ‘selfie’ seems to illustrate this point perfectly.
    To ‘disrespect’ or’ to judge someone’ is a crime worthy of rebuke (or sometimes far worse)

    So Jesus must (in the eyes of many today) respect us, not judge us, and to love us ‘as we are’.

    If we want to see what God thinks of us ‘as we are’ look to the Cross of Jesus Christ.This is Gods Judgement on sin.This is what sinners deserve’ in their natural state’. Have no illusions about this.

    So society has created a false ‘god’ in their own image.This false god is an idol of their own imagining.

    Salvation is IN Christ. There is no other form of salvation.

    The first fallen Creation ended at the Cross of Jesus Christ , no part of it can be carried into the New Creation.

    • Exüviis

      The essential Selfie accoutrement – the Narcissis-stick

      • ChaucerChronicle

        Clever insight.

    • Dominic Stockford

      1) We all deserve to be in Hell
      2) Temporal suffering is not as bad as Hell
      3) Therefore our suffering is less than we deserve
      4) Therefore God is good. QED.

      As someone here said a while ago.

      • Dreadnaught

        For Hell read Hull. Obviously an ancient printer’s error.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Never been there. Clearly a good thing not to have done.

          • alternative_perspective

            Its OK, not a bad place to visit.

  • In the post-truth snowflake world emotions are all that matters. I can’t help but feel that the feminisation of the church leadership has not exactly helped matters here – though (in the interests of inclusivity) there are an awful lot of culpable men as well.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Not emotions in general. Just the emotions of the right people.

    • scottspeig

      Indeed, for with feminism came emotional overload which dilutes the hard logic.

  • Deimos

    The “only” problem with hate speech and prejudice is that it can only flow uphill.

    At the top we have lgbqtiw (the w standards for either whatever or weirdo), non white persons, womyn, non Christians. All hate and prejudice is naturally aimed at them.

    At the bottom you have the rest, all hate flows from them (or do I mean Us).
    And Jesus MUST have had a mental problem as he deliberately gave up his place at the top and effectively created the bottom group.

    He is the patron deity of all prejudice and naughty pale folk everywhere.

    PC Note the demeaning and disgracing of non white Christians must only be carried out by persons in the top groups who posses at least three liberal degrees to include womyns studies or race relations. Anyone else risks accidental racism while belittling the Christianity of persons of colour.

    Rant Ends

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Shut it.

      • Maalaistollo

        Grumpy old git, aren’t you?

        • ChaucerChronicle

          Young, gun.

  • dannybhoy

    You can read that article from 2012 here…
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/341926/Jesus-Christ-may-have-suffered-from-mental-health-problems-claims-Church-of-England

    Here you can read more on the CofE on mental health from the Revd. Eva McIntyre..
    http://www.mentalhealthmatters-cofe.org

  • Jon Sorensen

    Churches have always been safe space for non-critical thoughts. That’s why they instituted blasphemy laws. Now church wants to put blasphemy laws on them self… times has changed.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Daft.

    • Inspector General

      Blasphemy! What do YOU know about blasphemy? Get pally with Jenni Murray. She’ll tell you all about blasphemy…

      http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/03/06/bbc-issues-impartiality-warning-to-womans-hour-host-over-transgender-row/

      • Jon Sorensen

        You are just confused. BBC wanted Jenni to follow their company guidelines while getting paid by BBC. Churches want everyone to follow their rules. Spot the difference?

        • Inspector General

          She failed to hold a personal opinion that was compatible with her employer. Thus she committed modern day blasphemy, and you know it. The BBC, acting as would God, is prepared to forgive her. But only on this occasion.

          You find yourself defending the indefensible. You might want to reflect on how you of all people fell into that, although this man here finds it rather amusing you have, and hopes you will repeat in due course.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You fall into fallacy of false analogy (Church blashemy laws vs BBC policy) and when pointed out your double down by falling again into fallacy of false analogy (God vs BBC).

            You seem to think that companies should have no say what the people they pay say. You probably have never worked for any company thinking it is “indefensible” do think that companies should have a say what their people say. Have you actually ever held a paying job?

          • Inspector General

            It’s a contract. Your employer engages you to do work for them, and in return they financially make it worth your efforts. There are of course certain aspects involved that could threaten or break the contract, and that includes bringing your employer into disrepute. J Murray would be guilty of that in her position if for example she denied the existence of transgender types in the UK. Clearly, she would be in the wrong, and considering that the BBC is a broadcaster, make them look rather silly for engaging her.

            However, an employee is also private citizen, and not beholden to indenture or lien. This means an employee is entitled not just to hold opinion, but to express it where the issue is not settled. One of those issues is whether transubstantiation is available for men who want to be regarded as women. Or vice versa. Because there is no established position and no authoritative guidance of any worth on the subject, merely the bully opinions of unqualified militants, the employer cannot claim that J Murray is bringing them into disrepute.

            That is not to say that the BBC doesn’t have the final say. They could argue that J Murray’s declared position and conduct (enthusiasm) in airing it nullifies the relationship of trust necessary for the aforementioned contract to be fulfilled by both sides. That is the usual way distinguished troublemakers are given the hatchet.

            Like so much in this sophisticate world, it all rests on whether your legal team is smarter than the other, plus a dollop of good luck.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “This means an employee is entitled… to express it where the issue is not settled.”
            You missed the point again. She gets paid by the employer who has settled it when she is getting paid. She can express her opinion when she is not paid by the employer on her own platform. As you said “it nullifies the relationship of trust necessary”.

            “That is the usual way distinguished troublemakers”
            All companies try to get rid of people that don’t follow the company guidelines. When you join a company you usually need to sign a contract where you agree to follow T&Cs and company guidelines. If you don’t like it don’t sign the contract. I for example refused to sign twice consulting contract because the terms in the contract.

            You just don’t like that people agree to follow company guidelines and then decide not to follow guidelines. You call them “troublemakers”. She is welcomed to start her own media company and publish whatever she wants.

  • John

    Where the hell has this word “inclusive” come from? I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible (even in The Amplified Bible or The Message), or the Creeds or the 39 Articles. How on earth am I going to hand someone over to Satan to teach him not to blaspheme if I now have to include him? It’s making my life nigh on impossible…

    • Dr Gavin Ashenden
      • John

        Thank you Doctor.

      • David

        Dr Ashenden, I’ve just read your article. I am wrestling with a very real problem, sited well within the boundaries of the article’s subject. Being a theologically conservative Lay Minister, I’ve found your article’s Biblical insights and clarity most useful. So thank you Gavin for that clear, Biblical and scholarly contribution to my Christian journey. I shall visit your website in future, as Biblical Anglicans need their “batteries” recharging occasionally.

      • bluedog

        Cameron’s appointee.

        • Merchantman

          Interesting- how ‘getting with the programme’ is leading to a whole raft of nightmarish errors. We fight not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities.

    • Maalaistollo

      How about ‘All have sinned…’? That’s pretty inclusive, isn’t it, although it doesn’t use the word itself.

  • There is a huge amount of mental illness in Britain today.
    I believe that about 35% of children between the ages of 9 and 15 self-harm, and a similar number say they have suicidal thoughts.
    One source of this is likely to be the messy home lives of so many children; shunted off to Dad at the weekend, and living at home during the week with a succession of ‘uncles’ and quite possibly ‘aunties’ to whom they are little more than an encumbrance..
    But another reason is surely that children are being taught to believe that they are the result of chance processes; that they have evolved from a bit of slime and that’s where they’re going back; that their lives have no cosmic significance in a blind and uncaring universe. Is it really any wonder that they end up depressed?
    An old Sunday School song sums it up rather well:
    ‘Said the sparrow to the swallow, “I should really like to know
    Why those foolish human beings rush around and worry so.”
    Said the swallow to the sparrow, “Well I think that it must be
    That they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.”‘

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Yours is a profound insight.

      I want you to sub-divide it into visually pleasing paragraphs.

      Thank you.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Use the flippin ‘edit’ key.

    • Sarky

      I doubt the creation/evolution debate has got anything to do with it.
      I would guess that figures correspond with the rise in social media. If your only interactions are through a screen, it can’t help but effect your mental health.

      • 1649again

        Party,l but much higher expectations set by the media and consumer society jarring with the realities of daily life are pretty instrumental. People have differing levels of psychological resilience and environmental factors clearly mean some are much more vulnerable to external pressures than others.

        • Sarky

          Isn’t that how it’s always been?

          • alternative_perspective

            Certainly, my contention would be that man devoid of God is devoid of the intrinsic affirmation of worth that follows from being made in God’s image and the calming, re-ordering of one’s life that comes with following God’s precepts.
            [aside: Granted, one doesn’t actually need a god in this case, merely the belief in one and a coherent set of scripture to try and live by that affirms this theological assumption. Additionally, one doesn’t need to deny evolution to accomplish this, merely the purely naturalistic cause underpinning evolution – theistic evolution]
            This self-identity and regulated behaviour reinforce one’s natural resilience allowing the individual to better withstand and assess the external pressures put on him or her, which are typically coercive and self-serving. Thus in this way the question of origin is pertinent.
            [aside: one may argue about the coercive nature of a scripture but one would presume that if God does exist and that he made us, then he has a valid and justifiable claim on our lives, on our autonomy and knows how we best function – see Carl’s post. One may of course deny this but this is the assumption underlying my contention]

          • Sarky

            Except this didn’t appear to be the case, just google ‘christians and depression’.

      • IrishNeanderthal

        To be sung to a traditional Irish tune:

        Oh, you’ll not find any Leprechauns in Éire any more
        ’Cause the radio has driven them all away.

      • I note the words ‘doubt’ and ‘guess’ in your post.
        .
        My comment, and my statistics, are the result of conversations with teachers (both Christian and non-Christian) in Secondary Schools who are at their wits end concerning the mental state of their pupils.
        .
        Certainly the presence of Social media doesn’t help, but children have been bullied from Time Immemorial (which is one evidence for the Biblical doctrine of Original Sin) and it is only in recent times that ‘anti-bullying’ strategies have been put into place. This phenomenon of vastly increased mental illness has another, deeper cause.

        • Sarky

          Your simplification of the problem is ludicrous. How about environmental factors? Chemicals in food? Etc etc etc.
          Saying its due to a falling away from christianity is simplistic at best.

  • Susan Ellis

    Church is about Christian love and marital love kept in the fireplace. People don’t know what they are doing to themselves calling problems that occur in life mental health problems. It is more a problem of well being. Mental health is if you have a physical brain malfunction. Food allergies can make someone totally depressed, it is hardly a mental health problem once these foods are removed from the diet. The Bible does not call anger, greed or jealousy a mental health problem because if you are following the good book you won’t want these in your life. Your life is being renewed by the washing in the word of God. The Bible. They prescribe pills and potions but people really need to sort out their lives and get control back. How can a pill make a mental decision?

    • Dominic Stockford

      There is a difference in medical understanding between psychoses and neuroses. Psychoses are due to chemical imbalances, and can be lessened in their effect through medication (not pleasant, whatever). Neuroses are things we get over by learning to think differently (not pleasant, but changeable). Being a sincere Christian who trusts in God, and His Word, through Christ, can indeed make a massive difference to neuroses.

      • Susan Ellis

        Thank you for your comment! What do you think of self harm? Not enough love through not knowing Gods love and not knowing that his purpose for us is to love others as God loves ourselves, moving away from self. Changing perspective from that one dot on the wall where all is focused to seeing the rest of the wall, brighter and more interesting than the negative dot.

        God can change lives from fears and phobias.

        Do you think attention deficit order falls into which? Which for autism?

        I had chronic ME but the blood pressure was so low I wanted to collapse all the time, i had a flu cold every month. I had masses of physical health problems but I got better from cutting out gluten and dairy foods. I used to be really depressed but it was all due to the foods I could not eat. That effects mood but as soon as cut out your whole life changes. ME has worse intolerance problems now than my generation. I hope it really is not from vaccinations because ai reacted to whooping cough vaccination as a baby.

        • Dominic Stockford

          The self harm issue is an interesting one. Who hasn’t slammed their hand down on the table in a moment of annoyance? And it hurts, and yet it isn’t categorised as self-harm. Though it might well be the thin end of such an act. In my opinion self-harm is a neurosis, but frequently goes hand-in-hand with people with psychotic illness too.

          Autism is a mental health illness. It cannot be ‘theraped’ away.

          ADHD is a very interesting matter. The drugs given to deal with it are the cause of the same behaviour in those without ADHD. Given out too liberally actually causes trouble. It is interesting to note that many such problems simply do not exist in cultures where daily doing what is necessary to live (getting food, water and shelter) is the daily struggle. It seems they don’t have time for it.

          ME seems to me to be a conglomeration of a whole load of issues – some neuroses which have developed from suffering illnesses, and some physical illnesses. Put together they have a very debilitating effect.

          • Susan Ellis

            With ME you have to deal with not being where you ought to be in life, exams suffer through sickness, if you have scraped enough olevels alevels for uni you might be too ill to qualify. Might get the sack in your unchosen career because you are too Ill. Less likely to be looked at as a marriage partner. Less likely to have children and your own home. ME people are usually very bright too, high achievers but disappointed.

            I was horrified I had done so much music training to a high level but had to learn second chances went to prisoners to learn degree courses. Not that I would want where they are.

    • So mental health issues are all in the mind and can be curbed or cured only we know Je- sus. How trite.

      • Susan Ellis

        I would not call grief a mental illness this is just a natural process when someone has died. If someone has done something seriously wrong to you some people quickly forgive but others are angry at injustice. Anger might be a sin but it is not a mental illness. With grief if you don’t keep getting slightly better with time then you might have a need for someone to talk to or a self-help book. Self help books for all kinds of matters which help people to change from the condition they are in. I like Christian books but there are good other books too. Far more progressive and healing than have someone not talk back to you in a therapy room and go home not having learnt anything of how to deal with your problem. Maybe not cried your eyes out to feel some relief either . No real loving environment like a friend or christian inner healing. Some people love a medical label to say something is wrong with them while other people are in such physical agony from pain that they really need help. So what can be dealt with by self ought to be. Similarly many people are cured with alternative therapies. A copper bracelet worked for someone’s rheumatism who never believed it would.

        • Hi

          Neither you or I actually mentioned grief , you are changing the goalposts.

        • Susan Ellis

          A lot of mental suffering comes from natural occurring events like grief which all need dealing with. None of us want to go through grief, we have no choice, but some deal with this better than others. Are people born with depression? Very few? Depression occurs from negative events of life if not chemical. These we all need to learn to deal with.

          You can suffer grief from a loss of job, or loss of goods that mean something to you. Loss of ability, loss of opportunity etc.

        • Susan Ellis

          The other major problem is phobias which can be dealt with. Phobia of speaking when you realise you can physically speak and stop lying to yourself that you can’t do something. I suppose with irrational thought you can change them? Christians read the Bible and know what is right or wrong, distinguishing the spirits. A type of washing with the word of God and who God says you are via the Bible. Non religions of the Book do not have the same washing in the word. I don’t think we would see Seeks and Hindus as bad people either, they might operate more by fear of God than love of God???? Maybe someone knows?

  • What is it that the notions of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ need to be safely insulated from? It is nothing less than the fact that the body in-and-of-itself is marital; made for the other. So, any space within which there is somebody (a church? My kitchen?) would need to be a ‘safe space.’ And if every space is a safe space, then no space is a safe space.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Outstanding, intellect!

  • alternative_perspective

    I would argue and the statistics easily demonstrate this: that mental health has been declining at the same time church attendance has.

    Correlation does not infer causation but I would suggest that as our society moves further away from a wholesome conception of community and identity rooted in the image of God and their orderings according to His ways, there will of course be a distancing of the same from transcendent purpose, ultimate truth, and morality.

    Humanity does not change and so society will continue to seek answers for these spiritual concerns but they will be re-defined in accordance with the prevailing meta-narrative. Today materialistic solutions are offered for spiritual needs – gender conceptions, sexual relationships, material consumption etc.
    In doing so the fundamental moral and spiritual demands remain but the answers exist in a continual state of decay and abandonment – in accordance with the material solutions one has found for them. Momentarily one may revel in the liberty of free sex, gender re-definition or children even but that initial peak moment soon becomes monotonous normality.

    Thus one’s inner life is decay and boredom, punctuated by spirituo-material highs of declining efficacy and yet the perpetual spiritual need remains unfulfilled. It would be better to be a Buddhist seeking emptiness than to fill it with rot. It is the narrative of an addiction. Of highs one cannot find or afford and the inevitable lows when they’ve been found wanting.
    The rich, the well educated and the well connected may be able to substitute for their spiritual needs with an endless stream of material distractions and diversions but that is unsustainable for most and surely a path to exhaustion and anxiety for all.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    We call it the Swedish Tendency…the contagious desire to create an inclusive gender-neutral fuzziness where all have prizes and you are what you say you are, though this may change from week to week. It is Christianity with a rinse-through of Marx as written in the Book of Common Purpose, a salmagundi of hope over hate and holy emoticons, where justification by virtue signalling has replaced justification by faith. There, I feel better for that. Tea, I think, and a comforting hobnob…

    • Dominic Stockford

      A nice cup of tea. There’s not much else left!

      • Merchantman

        A Hobnob or two for comfort, surely?

        • Dominic Stockford

          I accede. Where would one be without a Hobnob or a Custard Cream.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I know, it is my refuge, that and a good book, but I know it is pure escapism.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Swedish Tendency is certain a fuzziness especially now Swedish women have found a new relationship with Roussseau’s “Noble Savage”

      • Maalaistollo

        Fuzzy wuzzies, perhaps?

        • IrishNeanderthal

          Probably very few, if any, from among the Hadendoa people, whom Corporal Jones would have encounted when serving under Lord Kitchener.

          But not such bad chaps, after all: the fought with us against the Eyeties during WW2.

        • Paul Greenwood

          Cpl Jones might say so, but I couldn’t possible comment

  • Dominic Stockford

    The Church of England lost the gender wars the moment it said it would permit women to be lay readers.

    • Paul Greenwood

      That suggests Christianity is a mental illness. Quite a reversal, it used to be homosexuality was a mental illness

  • carl jacobs

    There is a common theme among these complaints. Both women’s ordination and sexual orientation involve a conflict over boundaries. Conservatives get in trouble when they declare that God has established specific boundaries that limit the ability of man to act upon his desires. We see man as a creature under authority and argue accordingly. What liberals hear is a claim of power over their own autonomy. They begin with the assumption that man is free to define his own boundaries. We say we are acting as herald of God to declare such boundaries but they hear us try to control them, for they deny at the outset that God has asserted any such control. We say “Thus stands it written” and they hear “You must do as I say.”

    A man says “My homosexual desire is normal for me” and we say “No, it’s perverse.” We declare the divine boundary that cannot be moved. He asserts his own moral freedom to define his own nature. If we triumph in the public square, we impose the burden on him to deny himself and what he considers to be his essential nature. This cuts against that which he most desire – public affirmation of his desire. More than anything else he wants a substitute for the self-evident complementarity of man with women. So he declares his pain. And we respond “Of course there is pain. Self-denial is never pleasant. But the purpose of life is not to avoid pain.” This is an argument constructed so that the sides must talk past each other.

    The conflict is fundamentally anthropological. Who defines the moral nature of man? We are fighting over the source of moral authority. We look outward to God as man’s creator. They look inward to man’s act of self-creation. We say men are externally defined. They say men are internally defined. Indeed the very idea of “inclusion” is really nothing more than a push to establish the primacy of man’s right to define himself according to his own desire. That’s why we constantly fall afoul of it. We declare the boundaries that they deny exist.

    It’s all self-deception of course. The boundaries do exit. God cannot be moved. But that doesn’t mean that men won’t try.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Abraham was moved to kill his son Isaac. Isaac was deceived by his wife into favouring one son over the other. Esau was killed by son of Jacob.

      Somewhere that religion is more austere, less self-indulgent

      • Merchantman

        Is all we hear nowadays is ‘my will be done ; Not Thy Will Be Done’.
        The ‘modern’ Anglican church is teetering on the brink because of this and may slide into Post Christianity at any time.

        • bluedog

          If you read Dr Gavin Ashenden’s critique of ++ Welby’s closing speech at the Synod, the CoE is already there. See his link above.

          • Merchantman

            Thanks, yes it’s very disappointing. No denying Justin Welby has been through a tough year and needs a good group of people round him to fill in some of the Theological gaps which will only come through keeping within Orthodox and Spiritual Faithfulness. What’s on offer may be a cacophony of ‘modernity’.

    • Martin

      Carl

      Man is essentially selfish, tell him he cannot have his desires and he will reject what you offer. Tell him he cannot achieve his desires and he will leave.

      And he said, This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.
      After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
      (John 6:65-66 [ESV])

  • David

    When we elevate feelings to become the leading test for right and wrong, sidelining those things that have worked well in our past, such as Scripture, tried and tested traditions as well as human reason, then truly we are on a downward slope.

  • Paul Greenwood

    Sentimentalism is the Zeitgeist. Christian Theology is not sentimental in its purity but in its decay. The narcissistic elevation of the Personal is simply the elevation of Man in place of the reverence of God.

    There is nothing new here. It is the old cycle. Institutions corroded through neglect and the capture of such institutions by ideological termites is everywhere, whether media or politics or law or education. Either fight for ground or cede ground and build new institutions. That is what Schumpeter used to call “Creative Destruction”.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And it comes from every side. Those who like their fancy tickled by high drama liturgy, those who like their fancy tickled by loud bouncy music, those who like their fancy tickled by what Richard Bennett accurately describes as ‘The Adulation of Man’ (Rick Warren’s purpose driven life).

      • alternative_perspective

        High drama liturgy, most normally proclaimed by a droning half hearted voice, or gentle squeaky one that doesn’t really capture the enormity of it all. The irony being, of course, that the liturgy was supposed to de-couple our dependence on other humans and their vagaries and direct the worshipper directly towards God, rather than a worship leader.

  • Manfarang

    The Myth of Mental Illness-Szasz.

    • Mental health is as important as physical health. It is NOT a myth.

      • Manfarang

        How scientific is the diagnosis and the treatment? A niece of mine is a psychiatric nurse, she says a number of her patients admitted aren’t mentally ill. In the days of the mental asylums the police would bring in people they had picked up for petty offences, in other words dump them there because they didn’t know what to do with them. Others dumped in those hospitals included the elderly who had no one to take care of them.
        Drugs given to long term patients result in their early deaths.
        Mental patients in the past have been cruelly abused and this has been continued with torture such as ECT.

        • Hi

          You raise different issues. There’s the diagnosis of mental health and then there’s the appalling treatment,rather than the diagnosis, of days gone by. In yesteryear surgery was done without disinfectant or anaesthetic , with limbs being sawed off and grave robbery for doctors to do autopsies. That doesn’t mean we’ve abandoned physical healthcare or deny it exists ,but instead made progressive medical discoveries and improvements to physical health and allowed for people to donate their bodies after death for research .

          • Manfarang

            Ah yes the lobotomies. I am glad they have mostly stopped. Still there is some psychosurgery. Sadly it didn’t do Lena Zavaroni any good.

      • Sarky

        I would say more so. One has a direct impact on the other.

    • chefofsinners

      Also, by the same author:

      How to win at Scrabble – Szasz

      • Manfarang

        Maybe a secret cure.

  • Inspector General

    A new low for Anglican emasculating humanist feminist extremists”, would be a better banner headline.

    Many are put off understanding the nature of mental health, which is understandable and in many ways you can thank Freud for that, but if you remove the waffle found in publications on the subject, you come to a simple 5 step hierarchy…

    Strange unorthodox thinking which causes concern of welfare to self or others
    Obsessive thought / behaviour
    Confusion of the thought process. Inability to function rationally. Anxiety resulting thereof being a complication.
    Derangement / Border line psychosis. More effective medication required. Inpatient treatment to be considered.
    Psychosis. Specialist care in a psychiatric unit required. Involuntary if need be.

    Note that you don’t find depression in there. Because depression is not a mental illness. Gentlemen, one puts it to you all that every single example of Phillip Norths whining detractors are suffering from some degree of depression. Depression you see, is the natural consequence of not getting your own way. Or fearing you won’t be getting it for much longer in this case

    The Inspector rests his case.

    For the record, the Inspector would also like to register his disgust of anyone, anyone at all, who claims or moots to claim, that their precious ‘mental health’ is at risk from the appointment of a traditionalist bishop. They should damn well be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    • IanCad

      Short of resorting to the writings of the remarkable Tomas Szasz, referred to by Manfarang, I would suggest that any feeling of mental confusion in an otherwise healthy adult is best treated by means of a wheelbarrow, a pile of dirt, a hole and a shovel, with the prospect of a wholesome meal upon completion of the task.

      • Inspector General

        One knows an awful lot about mental distress, but only in acute cases, Ian, as you say. And no, one is not in the trade, so to speak, neither has one undergone the rigours of suffering from it. A member of the family has though. He visited all 5 steps as above, or more accurately was visited by them. What set him off on his long walk – something as prosaic as unrealistic expectations. Bottled up and snowballed….

        • IanCad

          Maybe I’m being a little simplistic Inspector – perhaps even harsh- but as a child I so well remember visiting close family members in Fair Mile Hospital. I was designated to take around the obligatory tin of Quality Street to the other residents in the ward. Even at that tender age I could not help but think those poor inmates were bored stiff. Neither can I other than conclude that my own occasional spells of depression are but a reflection of a character lacking the fortitude to challenge the vagaries of life, common to us all.

          • Inspector General

            They weren’t bored Ian. They were out of it. The big breakthrough in mental health treatment came in 1963 and the discovery of the tri-cyclics. It changed everything. Literally, the book had to be re-written…

          • IanCad

            I’m not so sure IG. I was a friendly brat and could not help but notice that after the acceptance and slow unwrapping of the treat their interests became more focused upon me. Maybe their recollections of their own years of innocence prompted them to engage and perk up. At least, that is how I choose to interpret the rather uncomfortable memory.

          • Inspector General

            One doesn’t blame you for your gung ho attitude to mental health one bit, Ian. Oh lucky man!

          • IanCad

            I shall have to admit that I could well be absolutely wrong.

      • “I would suggest that any feeling of mental confusion in an otherwise healthy adult is best treated by means of a wheelbarrow, a pile of dirt, a hole and a shovel, with the prospect of a wholesome meal upon completion of the task.”

        What a disgusting attitude towards people with mental health. You have done down in my estimation.

        “Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”.

        Bibliography

        http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/depression.aspx

        http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

        https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/depression

        • chefofsinners

          However, exercise is widely recognised an important part of treating depression.

          “The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
          Or to stay with a book by the fire,
          But to take a hoe, a shovel or so
          And dig ’till you gently perspire.”

          • Dominic Stockford

            I would tend to say that it is activity, rather than necessarily exercise, that helps. It takes the person out of themselves, and in neurotic depression can make a massive difference. In psychotic depression I am afraid it is still medication that is the prime need.

        • IanCad

          Hannah, the links you provide depend for their sustenance upon the acceptance that any type of aberrant behavior has its solution in the employment of their services.
          That, in rare instances a chemical or physical cause is at root, I do not dispute.
          The problem is, the parasitic shrink industry, in concert with the drug trade, have wormed their ways into every aspect of life.
          Normal child – give it Ritalin
          Mouthy old-timer – needs Valium
          It goes on and on.

    • “Because depression is not a mental illness.”

      That’s not true.

      • Inspector General

        Hannah, depression is a natural state of mind for the usual human. Depression is also a symptom of genuine mental illness. The two are separate.

        • Maalaistollo

          Somebody once remarked that depressives are the people who see things as they really are.

          • Inspector General

            Not really. Depressives are types who have run out of ideas. For example, what delights an Inspector on a winter’s night is to stare out of the window into the night, with the street lights doing their bit, and marvelling that God has provided us with the reality that is glass to spare us the icy blast blast of his winds.

          • Anton

            And to hold one’s whisky.

        • Hi

          “Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

          Depression is different from feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is something which everyone feels at one time or another, usually due to a particular cause.

          A person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away.

          Depression can happen to anyone. Many successful and famous people who seem to have everything going for them battle with this problem. Depression also affects people of every age.”
          https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/depression

          • Inspector General

            Your GP is your friend, Hannah. A rule of thumb as to whether your depressive symptoms are emotional or otherwise is length of duration and intensity. Said GP is trained to distinguish…

          • You aren’t a qualified doctor. I hope.

          • Inspector General

            No, but one has found about mental illness the hard way. Posts passim.

          • hi

            Touchy subject for me. Also personal.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Define ‘depression’.

        There is the significant type, suffered by such as William Cowper – probably of the order of manic depression. There is also a type of severe depression which is not manic, but is also a psychosis. They are mental illnesses.

        There is also the modern version of depression, which requires cognitive thinking therapy. This neurosis is not mental illness.

        Not only did I suffer from the latter, just before the time I became a Christian, i also worked in the area of Mental Health for many years.

        • Hi

          Depression , like mental health is a broad category of various mental health illnesses . Unfortunately there’s a tendency to use the vernacular expression “I’m depressed” as meaning a bout of feeling low or down, which like joy and happiness is a usual human emotion. Clinical depression and wider mental health ,is a different matter altogether.

      • Susan Ellis

        With depression you have to find out what is causing the depression to make yourself feel better. Sometimes can be a food allergy and cutting out dramatically improves life.

        So do these pills really make people better or fat?

  • Shadrach Fire

    What is it about people that they want to tell God how it should be and not them responding to God’s will.
    To blame God for mental illness is anathema. They even read their Bibles but can’t see beyond their own desires.
    I am Bi-Polar. I was not always but it came through domestic stress. I don’t blame God for it, it just happened and is merely a chemical imbalance in the mind. I hate the sin of homosexuality and particularly hate the manner in which they foist their evil ways on everyone, especially children, just to justify their peculiar behaviour.
    We can’t change the Church and it’s beliefs to suit an aggressive agenda of justification. We cannot change the Church because it is the bride of christ and must be chaste and pure.
    Please Christians, get real and realise that the words of God are timeless and unchanging.

    • Dominic Stockford

      The fall, original sin, is the cause of every problem mankind has. Not our own personal sin.

      • IanCad

        You’re surely not suggesting we are not responsible for our own sins? Or are you?

        • Dominic Stockford

          No. I am saying that the illnesses, suffering and troubles faced by an individual are not directly visited upon them as a result of their personal sin. For example, if you are rude to me God doesn’t then give you a headache – and so on…

          • scottspeig

            Might have worked better if He did…

  • jsampson45

    The opponents of the prospective bishop think his appointment may prove divisive. He comes not to bring peace but a sword.

    • carl jacobs

      Correct. And let the sword divide truth from falsehood. If the revisionists succeed in driving him from this appointment, then there will never again be the possibility of an accommodation between the factions. For the revisionists will have let the mask slip, and once having seen the face beneath the mask, no conservative will ever again believe their oily promises.

      The resignation of Philip North under revisionist pressure would be the best possible outcome.

  • chefofsinners

    How deliciously your Grace writes, subtly contrasting the ineffable with the risible. Thank you.

    “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

  • Royinsouthwest

    What do you have to do before you have the “right” to be offended?

    • Dominic Stockford

      If you are white, male, British, Christian, then there’s nothing at all that you can do to have that “right”….

    • Dreadnaught

      Become a Muslim.

  • Anton

    The entire human race is mentally ill. Jesus was the only sane man to have walked this earth.

    • Inspector General

      Have you met the Inspector…

      • chefofsinners

        Evidently.

    • Dreadnaught

      Don’t talk such utter rot. Check yourself in the mirror first before making such obnoxious pronouncements; you come across as completely of unsound mind. If you are an example of what it means to be a Christian its no wonder that Christianity in the UK is dying on its arse. I’m so glad I’m not part of it.

      • Anton

        My own personality is supremely irrelevant to the issue; that’s what the Bible says.

    • Sarky

      What a stupid comment.

      • Anton

        Certainly anybody who didn’t believe the Bible would think that.

        • Sarky

          Anybody with half a brain would think that.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            That could be read to mean

            Anybody with only half a brain would think that.

  • Anna
  • Politically__Incorrect

    I once heard a preacher telling the congregation that depression was the result of sin. I doubted it at the time, as a fairly new Christian, but have reconsidered the idea over time. If we take sin to mean anything that falls short of what God expects from us, including trusting Him, drawing strength and courage from Him, believing the Scriptures, and simply rejoicing in who He is, then I would say the absence of those things is likely to destroy a person’s morale, especially when under severe stress. The church and its teachings do not therefore make people mentally ill, though people who are mentally ill may appear to have conflated their illness with religion. Neither was Christ, or any of his disciples mentally ill. Such a person could not displayed the power of the Holy Spirit. This is just another another attempt by Anglicans to show how “right-on” they are.

    • Dominic Stockford

      A specific individual’s depression is not the result of their own personal sin. It is, however, the result of the existence of sin, original sin, the fall. One of the lessons of Job is that his troubles do come from sin, but are not what he ‘earns’ from his own personal sin – for as God says, he was a good and upright man.

      • chefofsinners

        A very important point. Lazy thinking and poor theology often lead Christians to say that illnesses of all kinds are due to sinful behaviour. Mental illness especially is labelled ‘demon possession’, leading to amateur exorcisms by Mrs Wobblebottom, the fervent middle aged Tena lady with qualifications in typing.

        • IanCad

          I had to resort to Google Chef. Is nothing sacred!?

          • chefofsinners

            I hope your research was absorbing.

          • IanCad

            Shocked! Absolutely shocked!

  • chefofsinners

    Sometimes it seems like the whole world is bipolar.

    • carl jacobs

      I saw what you did there.

      • CliveM

        IT took me a long time!

        • IanCad

          I must be particularly dense. Saw it last night and have been mulling it over off and on ever since.

          • CliveM

            Ha, not telling. But focus on world and bipolar!!

          • IanCad

            The only connection I can figure from ‘World” and ‘Bipolar” is related to the Cold War. Now as this thread is related to mental health, I’m finding myself affected by ‘Compulsive Neurotic Disorder”
            I must find the answer. Oh Dear!! isn’t that one of the traits of a psychopath?

          • CliveM

            What’s does the world have two off, one north, one south?

          • IanCad

            It has two hemispheres, two poles???!!!***
            Bipolar Is that it? I was expecting something far more profound and cryptic. I do tend to overcomplicate things. I’ll bet the shrinks have a name for that as well!

          • CliveM

            I hope that’s it, otherwise I’ve made an arse of myself ☹️

          • IanCad

            Maybe Chef will be along to clear things up.
            Unless he’s a sadist.

          • CliveM

            I’m not hopeful…………..

          • chefofsinners

            To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance.

    • IanCad

      “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.” Robert Owen.

  • Dreadnaught

    Without regard to the thrust of the OP, I have to say that I am surprised at the level of understanding of mental illness being displayed in this comments threads. Just three weeks ago I attended the funeral of an ex-serviceman I knew from my second tour in Northern Ireland who ended his own life, in a depressive state of mind 40 years on from the events that hounded him all his life and as a direct result of his experiences while serving his Country.
    He is not alone in his fragility. There are hundred of much younger men from subsequent engagements in he Falklands and twice in Iraq and in Afghanistan in similar distress..
    They were not softies by any description; some of them as tough as they come, but are now in and out of psychiatric wards and clinics, suffering from what is glibly passed of as PTSD, but is essentially clinical depression.
    Those of you making your ignorant, innane remarks here, are not fit to lace their boots and should hang your mush filled heads in shame. Call your selves Christians? I hold you in deep contempt; your stupidity is no defence.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      What is an OP?

      Since this is at the top of the thread, for convenience I would also like to add something concerning the definitions of neurosis and psychosis. I heard this recently on the Channel 5 programme GPs Behind Closed Doors.

      As I remember it, in simple terms, with a neurosis the person is aware of what is going on in their head, but with psychosis the person is unable to distinguish between that and reality.

      • Dreadnaught

        OP: Original Post (Cranmer)

        • IrishNeanderthal

          It seems that many of the commentators are affected by the philosophical movement known as Muscular Christianity. I have always associated this with Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School from 1828 to 1841.

          • bluedog

            Mens sana in corpore sano, together with cold showers , bad food, no curtains on the windows and a single blanket on the bed. Empire building stuff, or scarred for life?

          • CliveM

            Or maybe both.

          • Mike Stallard

            OK rubbish if youneed to Dr Arnold. At least he cared. When did any of us visit the local Comprehensive? Or – worse – the local YOI. Nacro anybody?

          • CliveM

            My son goes to a comprehensive. So I’ve been recently.

          • Mike Stallard

            My first three children went to a Comp. then when the fourth wanted to be a vet, I was faced with a choice. She went to St Mary’s Hall Brighton.

          • Dominic Stockford

            They won’t let me in. They’re scared I might go and preach the Gospel….

          • IrishNeanderthal

            He cared, certainly, but what about his philosophy? Especially when applied by a more run-of-the mill teacher.

            And his son the poet Matthew Arnold seems to have been something of a heretic.

          • Anton

            Ask Nick Duffell (author of The Making of Them).

          • Anton

            I quote from Gilbert Highet’s fine book The Art of Teaching:

            “To get a true picture of Arnold one must read Hughes’s eulogistic chapters [from Tom Brown’s Schooldays], then Lytton Strachey’s amusing caricature in Eminent Victorians, then his biography and letters by A.F. Stanley, and lastly his son’s idealization of him in Rugby Chapel. But all these in different ways convey the same impression, that Arnold loved his fellow-creatures, even when they were boys. Once when he was a young tutor, at Laleham, he scolded a slow learner. The boy looked up at him, saying, “Why do you speak angrily, sir? – indeed I am doing the best that I can.” Arnold was deeply moved by this incident, and never forgot it. Thenceforward, even though austere, he was fundamentally kind.”

      • Dominic Stockford

        I would say that the definition needs slight rejigging – ‘with a neurosis the person CAN BE aware of what is going on in their head, but with psychosis the person is unable to distinguish between that and reality.’

        That is, by helping someone to understand that it is their patterns of thinking that have gone astray neuroses can be lessened, and even completely overcome.

    • len

      Many of those who have suffered ‘a mental health problem’ prefer to keep quiet about it, those who have never suffered a ‘mental health problem’ seem to want to talk about it.
      To be in the grip of a mental health problem over which you have no control at all is one of the most painful and humiliating experiences one can suffer.

    • 1649again

      This misunderstanding is pretty common among those without direct personal experience of these issues so don’t be too harsh. Some of the comments are really ignorant indeed. The causes are many and complex, hence difficult to address. Partly it’s about the 24 hour life, unrealistic expectations clashing with the ideal life of the media, lack of physical activity, lack of hope etc. Depression from trauma or prolonged hyper insecurity as with your friend are other causes.

      All I can say is I escaped it by getting extremely fit, getting my career going, meeting my wonderful wife and becoming a Christian. Perhaps no one of these things on its own was the cure. The other thing was years of it resulted in me becoming mentally very tough, pressure resistant and much less self indulgent. But I know I was lucky and what worked for me may nt for others.

      Depression is not a sin, it’s part of the human condition.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Every year, when the 11th of the 11th is not a Lord’s Day, I lead a service at the local war memorial. A chap comes along every year, an ex-para, who is always struggling with the situation and the remembrances it brings. He is pleased and always thanks me for doing something formal that day. I long for him to open up and speak with me, and to allow Jesus Christ into his life. It wouldn’t help him forget, but he could find some peace through doing so.

      • Dreadnaught

        Sometimes its best to simply allow people to Grieve/remember intheir own way which is special to them. Thats how they cope with the reality of their lifes experiences. If he felt the need to join in Christian worship, he would have done it by now. I have attended at the Cenotaph although I am atheist. That is no distraction from the solemnity of the occasion. It is the one time we can stand together as a nation uncritical of our differences but respectful of those who made the supreme sacrifice.
        Its a very public expression of a personal position where words dont always come easily.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I have never pressured him, or even asked him. There is simply so much sadness in him that he cannot even bring himself to lead us in the response starting: They shall grow not old…

          I believe Christ can bring him true peace, but I also believe that he will be a lot happier if he could bring himself to talk. He is clearly a tortured soul.

  • Peter Ratcliff

    With real conviction of sin comes a looking into Jesus and a relief from the intolerable burden. Hence to preach against sin in a Gospel context is safe and a Judas suicide is the exception. Of course the end of the wicked is eternal misery whether they hear the Gospel or not.

    • Mike Stallard

      The Prophet Mohammed was asked about this. He constantly stressed the fact that judgement is in the hands of Allah and in His hands alone…

      • Peter Ratcliff

        There is no prophet my that name. While there was prophecy in the New Testament, Hebrews 1 makes it clear that prophecy was to become a thing of the past. But we are digressing from the topic.

  • dannybhoy

    The job, the raison d’etre of the Church is the proclamation of the Gospel, caring for the poor and being salt and light in the world.
    That’s it. That’s what our Lord told us we should do and be.
    The leaders of the Church of England are milling about like demented sheep, grabbing at any cause that comes within reach, simply because they can’t/won’t address the real issues of obeying our Lord.
    They are putting unity before Truth.
    When an individual comes under conviction of their sinful and rebellious state before God and accept His free gift of salvation, they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and become a disciple of Christ. They will be born again, they begin the process of sanctification and service. They receive inner peace, harmony and joy and a desire to worship and serve.
    This is true mental and spiritual health.
    The Church is addressing the symptoms not the cause.

    • len

      ‘Getting saved’ is an act carried out through the Grace of God.But’ being saved’ is a process carried out probably for the rest of ones life.

      Salvation is going through The Gate(Christ) then walking the path.

      (I know that you know this Danny, but for those who don`t)

      • dannybhoy

        Amen.
        ‘Being saved’ or sanctification is something we are encouraged into by the Holy Spirit,and we choose to engage in it. But we do it because of grace, not in order to obtain grace.
        The sad thing is that some churchgoers do not know the Gospel, do not read their Bible and know little about new life in Christ and discipleship.

        • len

          Agreed. As Jesus said “Go make disciples”(Matthew 28:19)
          This is where’ house groups’ could become really useful if the church doesn`t fulfil its function.

          • dannybhoy

            I have been leading a house group (all ladies) for the last five years. I think another two would be wonderful for our village. I am praying towards this. A house group provides friendship, support, practical help, discussion, Bible study, praise and worship.
            It’s not to take people away from their churches but to provide encouragement and involvement where they live.

      • IanCad

        Or, as a wise writer put it: “The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.”

    • Politically__Incorrect

      You’ve said what I was trying to say, but more eloquently danny. Healing comes through our reconciliation to God, and that involves recognition of our sins, followed by receiving the Holy Spirit. It works better than any medicine or psychotherapy.

      • CliveM

        Would you rely on that to treat cancer?

        • Politically__Incorrect

          There are many claims of physical healing and of course the New Testament, if one believes it, is full of such accounts.

          • Sarky

            Like i said…..dangerous ground.

          • CliveM

            All true, but you haven’t answered the question.

          • Politically__Incorrect

            I don’t have cancer. If I did I would not dismiss either option

      • Sarky

        “It works better than any medicine or psychotherapy”

        Dangerous ground my friend.

        • Politically__Incorrect

          Given the number of people who die each year from side-effects of medicines and botched surgery I wouldn’t say the conventional approach is safe

      • dannybhoy

        In the vast majority of conversions or divine acts of reconciliation, men and women find a deep inner peace and joy in an awareness of a new start with the Almighty.
        We have to recognise that there are people in churches who struggle with depression, bi-polar disorders and so on.
        That is why Len’s suggestion of house groups is so important, because in those groups individuals may find the acceptance and love that enables them to open up about what really troubles them. It may be a mental disorder, abuse, or stress or even demonic oppression; but in small groups Christians can offer caring support that can lead to healing, treatment or deliverance.

  • Mike Stallard

    Two huge changes since I became a Catholic in 1990.
    1. Funerals have tended to become a weepfest where people parade their wonderful caring nature for all to see. Tears are not only allowed – they are compulsory and little girls read poems which they have written for people to enjoy. “Thank you for coming here today and I hope you all feel comfortable and ready to enjoy the funeral of…” Eternal Life? Suffering? Crucifixion leading to resurrection? Nie Danke.
    2. Our local Parish Church in this market town used to be run by a Vicar in a huge Vicarage. He was invited to all the Council meetings and Evensong, during the Second World War, was actually held in the Market Place. Now he is instantly dismissable as a mere Priest in Charge.

    • 1649again

      Much of #1 is the consequence of “Dianafication”.

    • Anton

      Your point 1 is true in England, but funerals have always been weepfests in most cultures and I believe it’s no bad thing.

    • dannybhoy

      Speaking personally and therefore subjectively, the more a Christian desires to know God, to overcome their shortcomings and character weaknesses, the more they will understand the love and compassion God has for them, and they will find themselves being less judgemental and more loving towards others. You will find yourself moved by the plight and distress of others. Regardless of denomination, if our Lord is the centre and motivation of your life, this will be your experience too.

  • Anna

    I may have posted this video earlier, but here is a Jewish psychiatrist affirming that faith in God, particularly Christian faith, has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health –

    • Sarky

      How does that work then??

      As an atheist it would have no practical use to me whatsoever!

      • Anna

        I think this would prove your need to seek God.

        I happen to know at least 6 people who have experienced full recovery from serious psychiatric illness following their conversion. There are others who continue to battle on, but still see their Christian faith as source of strength.

        Being close to God is definitely an anchor for the soul. As Christians we experience all the problems common to a fallen humanity, but the difference is we have reserves to draw from that the world knows nothing about.

        • Sarky

          I got through it without a hint of god.

      • Susan Ellis

        I think the book I read was by Herbert Benson, certainly Benson on Faith. He was a psychiatrist but his book was on faith rather than faith in God. Is a good book to believe that faith exists.

  • CliveM

    I am fortunate not to have suffered mental illness. But I have seen the effect on close family members and it isn’t pleasant on either them. Or those close to them. There a couple of myths about mental health. Having a breakdown is not a reflection on the individual. He isn’t weaker than others, it’s simply that circumstance or the lack of proper coping strategies have pushed someone too far. There is no more cause for shame in having mental illness then their is in having cancer. It’s no more to do with sin, then appendicitis. Any suggestions otherwise is simply wrong. Similarly, as simply ignoring cancer won’t worg, neither will trying to ‘pull yourself together’ work if clinically depressed. Psychiatrists are Doctors who have proper medical training. They do the same training as a GP or Surgeon, they simply specialise in mental health. They are not Medical Doctors by default. People need to think about it.

    • Mike Stallard

      Yup – all true.
      What you have not mentioned is the devastation caused by amateur and, I am afraid, professional psychologists. I visited one boy of 18, the victim of his parents’ divorce. He presented me with a list of his ailments – all careful acronyms – including, of course, dyslexia (How can a dyslexic do acronyms – only asking!)
      The result was that he was hopeless. Hopeless. He was sick and a psychiatrist had told him so. all his initiative was gone. He had put on a lot of weight and he was really really good at Call of Duty.
      I wonder how many other boys are categorised as unteachable and rendered hopeless by Ritalin?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Stress holds bridges up, they fall down when it becomes distress.
      The same with people. All people.

      • CliveM

        Agreed, we can all succumb.

  • Hi

    Given that women Priests have been established in the church of England since 1992,is there any surprise at the reaction here? I actually think whoever decided the appointment might’ve known that appointing a bishop who disagrees with the actual official policy of the church of England would cause controversy for all concerned?

    I think that the appointment process is at fault and seems very secretive. Does the church even advertise the job of bishop, ask for a CV and interview potential candidates?Does the normal membership get a vote? In fact it seems the way bishops are appointed are at fault and seems like some kind of secretive magic circle.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Hannah,

      Recently you raised the point that since there already women priests, why not women bishops? To modern ears that sounds logical, but

      THE idea of logic is so entirely lost in this phase of philosophical history, that even those who invoke it do so rather as the Athenians once invoked the Unknown God, or the men of the Dark Ages retained a dim respect for Virgil as a conjurer. The very people who say, ‘be logical’, will generally be found to be quite illogical in their own notion of logic.
      . . . . .
      Let us begin with a trifle that does not matter in the least. He loved to argue about trifles that do not matter in the least. Some journalist the other day shook the foundation of the universe and the British Empire by raising the question of whether a girl ought to smoke a cigar. But what I noted about his, and about the hundred eager correspondents who pursued this great theme, was that they wrote again and again some such sentence as this: ‘If you like a girl to smoke a cigarette, why can’t you be logical and like her to smoke a cigar?’ Now I do not care an ounce of shag whether she smokes a cigarette or a cigar or a corn-cob pipe or a hubble-bubble, or whether she smokes three cigars at once, or whether she is an Anti-Tobacco crank. But it is none the less true that when a man writes that sentence telling us to ‘be logical’, he shows that he has never even heard of the nature of logic. He might just as well write: ‘You like the look of a horse; why won’t you be logical and like the look of a hippopotamus?’ The only answer is, ‘Well, I don’t; and it is not illogical, because it does not in any way invade the realm of logic.

      G.K.Chesterton, On Logic and Lunacy

    • CliveM

      Actually a good way around it’s, is too become Prespyterian!

  • dannybhoy

    I repeat, no true Christian would be involved in such a thing. Why do you think so many Christian men women and children were hung on stakes or torn to pieces in Roman arenas?

    • Sarky

      Funny, you’d jump in for that, but i don’t see you jump in when they get ‘ ripped to pieces’ on here.

      • dannybhoy

        I think you will find I have always argued for respect and understanding for anyone who struggles with their sexuality here on the blog..

        • CliveM

          Yes you do DB.

  • HedgehogFive

    In the 17th Century, one thing those women were superstitiously accused of was causing cattle to abort.

    In America recently, they almost elected as president a woman whose stock in trade seems to have been getting other women to abort: no superstition necessary to come to that conclusion.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Post-partum abortion, what is far worse. Until now known as infanticide.

  • Bob Frost

    Not only Jesus Christ who ‘might have suffered from mental illness’ but numerous Saints I would suggest. Hearing voices, talking to an imaginary being, having ‘visions’ etc indeed! Typical symptoms of serious mental illness.

    • Susan Ellis

      They used to lock them in solitary confinement and this was not good because they often more tuned in with a kind of necromancy trying to pray for peoples souls.

    • len

      Evolutionists?

    • carl jacobs

      Give him a hand, folks. He’s here all week.

  • CliveM

    Tooooooooo………….. painful ☹️

    • Hi

      Like today’s budget. A Tory government hitting the self employed and small businesses.

  • Ian G

    Jesus Christ suffers/ed from mental health problems? I could make a case for depression…