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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Depression! Time to get a grip


Archbishop Justin Welby,  "a risk-taker and reconciler by nature".- Gurardian/Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA


From the Guardian, Thursday 21 March 2013 08.00 GMT:

"Justin Welby doesn't do fluffy spirituality – he's the tough leader the church needs

"The new archbishop of Canterbury will not be easily fazed by the burdens thrust upon him. Welby is a decisive man of action.

"Rowan Williams' parting wish, as he bid farewell to Lambeth Palace after a difficult decade, was that his successor might be blessed with "the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros". Many are wondering how the new archbishop of Canterbury will cope under similar stress. Justin Welby, a risk-taker and reconciler by nature, is gifted with unusual mental toughness, shaped through personal suffering. His background at Eton, Cambridge and Kensington gives the impression of untroubled privilege, but must be set alongside a broken home, an alcoholic father, and the tragic death of his firstborn daughter aged just seven months."


Fast forward to the Telegraph, 11 OCTOBER 2017 • 9:45PM:

"Archbishop of Canterbury opens up about 'black dog' as he reveals he suffers from depressive episodes 

"Justin Welby has opened up about suffering with a "black dog" as he reveals for the first time that he has suffered with depressive episodes. The Archbishop of Canterbury revealed that he has only recognised that he experiences the bouts of feeling "hopeless", which have not been formally diagnosed, within the past year.

"Asked in an interview for GQ Magazine whether he had been depressed, he said: "I think if you had asked me a year ago I'd have said no, and ten years ago I'd have said absolutely not. "But what was that phrase Churchill used? 'Black dog'. There is an element of that. I think as I am getting older I am realising it does come from time to time."

In his customary, forthright manner the Rev Dr Peter Mullen says it as he sees it when writing in his  'All Things Considered' blog. He writes, "Welby admits he’s hopeless" before going on to illustrate how the teaching of Scripture concerning sexual relations turns darkness into light, something Dr Mullen assumes Archbishop Welby has not done:

"Difficult as this might be to believe, it seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not thought to look at the 3000 years old tradition of Judaeo-Christian ethical teaching to help him settle his mind on the matter of sexual relations."

Depression has been described as 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". Anyone who suffers from it deserves sympathy and understanding.

Less severe but also debilitating are periods of stress and anxiety, especially when brought on by others. So consider all those poor souls whose religion has been their only solace, taught from an early age to leave their problems at the altar to be borne by Him, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light". How are they expected to cope when their church has left them?

One would think on that basis that many bishops, particularly in the Church in Wales, would be feeling depressed at the misery they have caused to others. There is no evidence of contrition as they sideline the many while elevating the vocal few who allege injustices despite a church presence which is out of all proportion to their numbers in society (2%). Perhaps the bishops today have problems with numeracy as well as biblical erudition.

Looking wider, according to Pew Center Research, "Five Centuries After Reformation, Catholic-Protestant Divide in Western Europe Has Faded". From their August 31, 2017 Report:

"As Protestants prepare to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the prevailing view among Catholics and Protestants in Western Europe is that they are more similar religiously than they are different. And across a continent that once saw long and bloody religious wars, both Protestants and Catholics now overwhelmingly express willingness to accept each other as neighbors – and even as family members.

While some Catholics look down their noses at the Ordinariate and over zealous converts dismiss Anglicans who, for many legitimate reasons, have not followed them across the Tiber, there are also new Anglicans who see no problem in defining faith according to their own desires rather than as it has been received.

How ironic, then, that while the average (often lapsed) Catholic and Protestant has come closer together, the new 'liberal' Anglican church is tearing itself apart over the LGBTQI+ ascendancy when they account for just 2% of the population in the United Kingdom leaving many cradle Anglicans excluded because they remain faithful to biblical teaching.

Christianity in the UK is approaching crisis point as illustrated by the headline: An Oxford College has banned the Christian Union from its freshers’ fair on the grounds that it would be “alienating” for students of other religions, and constitute a “micro-aggression”:

"The organiser of Balliol’s fair argued Christianity’s historic use as 'an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism' meant that students might feel 'unwelcome' in their new college if the Christian Union had a stall. Freddy Potts, vice-president of Balliol’s Junior Common Room (JCR) committee, said that if a representative from the Christian Union (CU) attended the fair, it could cause 'potential harm' to freshers".

While Christians face "worse persecution than at any time in history" according to a new Report, 'progressive' Anglicans are happy to reject other Anglicans who remain faithful to scripture and tradition resulting in an alarming drop in numbers regularly attending church services put at only 1.4 per cent of the entire British population.

If we don't get a grip, Christianity which has formed the basis of Western society will become something for academics to ponder over in secular institutions and madrasas.

According to a 'Christian Today' report, the supermarket chain Lidl has edited out the Christian cross from churches in its Greek food range because it 'does not wish to exclude any religious beliefs'.

I wonder if they are have read about the boy in Mosul who was buried alive because he "steadfastly refused" to throw away the small cross he was wearing around his neck when ordered to do so by "IS terrorists". Read The Last Christians: Priest Describes Horror, Courage of Christians Being Killed for Their Faith

Depressing, isn't it.

21 comments:

  1. Justin Welby isn't the first ABC to succumb to the "Black Dog" - Edward White Benson also suffered from deep bouts of depression. Prayers continue for the well being of Archbishop Justin.

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  2. One can only sympathise with someone in Justin Welby's position, carrying the burden of depression while under constant public exposure. It says something about the culture of the Church that colludes with keeping this debilitating condition under wraps for most clergy.

    It probably explains (in part) his frequent bad tempered outbursts, and his less than warm disposition much of the time. It must cause one or two of us in Llandaff to wonder what has been going on in Llys Esgob for the past decade-and-a-half.

    But 'Doesn't Do Fluffy Spirituality'? If you ask me, it's all fluff. He is the first AbC not to have an earned PhD - in anything - and he has been less than receptive towards the insights of academic theology. It shows. His repetitive and meandering sermons betray someone who has not been shaped (or excited) by a vision of the Church's historic exploration of the nature of God, and his handling of the Bible is pretty perfunctory (which is interesting for an Evangelical). He is also too quick to point the finger (Wonga, BBC safeguarding) without doing his homework, and that just makes the Church look stupid.

    His inability to say anything of gravitas (unlike his predecessor), not least at moments of crisis, is a real weakness. As he has (half jokingly) said, he is a businessman in clergyman's clothing. Is that wholly good for the future mission of the Church?

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    1. Not to mention the "Zero hours gaffe" concerning catering staff at Lambeth Palace Athelstan.
      I can not forget that when I was contemplating retirement he was hardly out of his curacy.
      As for a less than warm disposition. Did you ever meet George Carey?

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  3. But he does mention Jesus at every twist and turn which can't be bad!

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  4. Not only is Dr. Welby not "the first AbC not to have an earned PhD", but Lord Carey is in fact the only Archbishop of Canterbury ever to have an "earned Ph.D.". The Doctorate in Philosophy was not introduced in England until 1917, and for many years was not considered a necessary qualification for an academic career in Arts subjects, or, a fortiori, for ecclesiastical preferment. Lord Williams of Oystermouth has a D.Phil..
    Old Nick

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  5. At one time even Suffragan Bishops were awarded Lambeth D.Ds

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  6. William Walsham How19 October 2017 at 10:42

    Ah, yes. 'Mention Jesus in e very media encounter' Justin Welby has been told by his evangelism flunky. I read a tweet, yesterday, by a wise and rounded former C of E dean, who quoted a retired bishop: 'Putting "Jesus" into every second sentence simply diminishes the mystery of the triune God.' What do you expect from a non-theologian?

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  7. Old Nick, I think you may have overlooked both Michael Ramsey and Donald Coggan, both of whom had earned doctorates, as does Rowan Williams, of course.

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    1. Archbishops going back to S. Edmund Rich (including M. Ramsey) were generally D.D.s . The D.D. is a different animal from the 'earned Ph.D.' - a criterion of academic distinction in Arts subjects imported from the United States and deriving originally from Germany. The present Archbishop's lack of this academic ornament should not be used as a stick with which to beat him.

      Old Nick

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    2. You're right Old Nick. Why don't you read, (surprisingly difficult to locate) Barry's Ph.D, held only in Aberystwyth library, even though done in Bangor. You'll understand why it hasn't seen the light of day.
      Ali Bongo.

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  8. Gwynedd Guardian20 October 2017 at 11:51

    Who in their right mind wants to read a dreary 'History' of Church Hostel in Bangor? That the Golfer was a warded a PhD for something that a 'local historian' does every day of the week is yet another of the unexplained scandals. By the way, Old Nick, Ramsey's and Coggan's doctorates (like Rowan's) were awarded for theses. In that sense, they were earned.

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    1. "Who in their right minds"? Simple answer Gwynedd Guardian!!!! Only the same clown who spent thousands of church funds buying editorials in the "Daily Gutter". Suppose it'll now come from his lavish pension pay out. Can't wait for the next one.
      Ali Bongo

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    2. At the risk of being boring, the D.D. (Cambridge and Lambeth in the cases you cite) is awarded on the strength of a body of submitted work, usually published work. That is not the same thing as the thesis submitted for a Ph.D., which is what the present Archbishop of Canterbury was being criticized for lacking.
      Old Nick
      Old Nick.

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  9. Gwynedd, as soon as I read your entry about Barry's History of the Church Hostel in Bangor I immediately switched to Amazon. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that it is "Currently Unavailable"
    Obviously a very popular read - a page-turned, no doubt.
    Currently, I am reading "A History of Glue" - I can hardly put it down.

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  10. And +Barry is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, for his contribution to theology and history. As far as I can see he wrote a book on R.S.Thomas and gained a PhD no-one wanted to publish. An old cliche comes to mind - its not what you know but who you know that important.

    With due respect to him being a PhD and knowledgeable about the poetry of R.S.Thomas, I thought you had to be really eminent in a field of scholarship to be nominated for the LSW, clearly I was wrong.


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    1. The first part of your post answers the query raised in the second part Whamab. "It is not what you know but who you know." At least we can all take comfort from the fact that he is now yesterday's man.

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  11. Whamab, Barry's biography on R S Thomas does not get a mention on any serious review. The Welshman who does, and gets highly praised, is Byron Rogers. Even Rowan Williams places him in the top spot. Ghost writers don't really work on this kind of publication.
    Ali Bongo

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  12. Am I correct is saying that Barry Morgan's book on R S Thomas - "Strangely Orthodox" is a very slim volume?

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  13. Yes, Father David, I seem to recall the rather slim and thinly veiled publication by Barry . The mere mention which caused an eclipse experience to R S facial features.

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    1. Apology Father David, the biography followed R S Thomas' death. Did it not? Presumably saving some measure of embarrassment for the author from the sharp mind, and often spoken word, of the subject, had he been alive, (Please stop laughing everyone).

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  14. I think that Barry would have been better advised to put a photograph of the great Welsh poet on the front cover of his booklet, rather than a pencil or charcoal drawing. The image he used makes R. S. Thomas resemble more the image Richard Ingrams used on the dust cover of "MUGGERIDGE - The Biography. I'm not sure if R. S. would like to be compared with Saint Mugg, although they were both outspoken and were not slow in coming forward to express their acerbic opinions.

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