The Enemy Depression: are you an unwitting ally?

Constance, we see the results of depression brought home to us in the recent tragic death of well known public figure Robin Williams.  But what about the ones no one knows, around you?  Many of my friends have brought forth stories of relatives, acquaintences who succombed to its deadly siren song of release that is only a final tragic dissolution.

And, even more poignant, simply because of numbers and a vital extra lil addition of pure hate, is the plague of suicide that rests like a curse upon the shoulders of transgender people.  There is a post that says it well over at the blog The Girl Inside…you can check out the full thing there:

http://www.thegirlinside.com/tg/in-requium/ 

Let me quote a startling paragraph or two:

It is certainly well known within our community how prevalent the attempted suicide is among our brothers and sisters who are transgender. The most recent and best survey on the subject reports that 41% of surviving trans people surveyed reported having attempted to take their own life, and there’s no accounting for those who not only attempted and succeeded in that figure.

This in contrast to a rate among the general population .under 5%. Certainly compared to almost any demographic you might imagine, we relate to the phenomena of suicide. It is hardly possible to offer any new argument that has not already been offered as to why we should struggle against that temptation and not give into it, but more so it is perhaps adds a certain obligation to those of us who survive.

It is well understood by those who study such things that the incidents of actual psychological disorder among trans people (of the sort Williams may well have struggled against) is not significantly higher than in other populations but what is, is the sort of “environmental” depression that arises from the circumstances of your situation. Which is to say that when you know you are a member of a reviled community, one who is quite possibly going to be rejected by everyone you might reasonably expect to love you if they knew the reality of your heart and mind then you are prone to depression even to the point of suicide.

It is not enough that we resist giving in to temptation, rather it is incumbent upon us to step out of the darkness and into the light and challenge our society to build a culture that does not reject us for who we are.

As long as they are allowed to shame us, reviled was, and mock us then we will continue to bury members of our community who took their own lives.


Enough of that.

Well?  Constance?

Mental illness rates, psychological rates virtually identical, and yet 41 % of trans individuals have already attempted suicide?  I have heard stats that the general population’s suicide attempt rate is somewhere between 2 and 3 %.

How is this not blaring news?  If 41% of all middle schoolers were attempting suicide, or of all females were attempting suicide, imagine the furor.

But trans-individuals? Nah…tragic waste of a good man/woman in the first place, and thus they deserve what they get…right??

At ease in Zion…how does that taste?

Join me as an ally of transformation, and make your wealth rain down like spring rain.

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This says it better than I just tried…

Constance, I just read my online newsletter devotional that I get each morning called “A Slice of Infinity”…and this morning’s was an excellent thrust towards the very same ideas I was attempting to convey in my earlier post about foundations and effects.

I hope you enjoy it…and I hope you don’t!

Maybe that good poke that we all need and doesn’t feel that great would be appropriate?

I do believe that our current cultural paradigm, our presupposition of “the way it ought to be” is so easily summed up by the phrase “at ease in Zion”, which means having all things, all advantages, and yet just sitting back and wallowing in self-preoccupation and self-service.

All around us, right here in this very nation, in your state, nay, in your town are humans oppressed and burdened as bad as anyone anywhere.

Are your eyes open?  Is your heart?  Will you step out and share your ease, your station, and make a way for even the least?

From a transgender woman, who is swimming away from privilege and power as fast as she can shinny thru the waters,

Charissa

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Sledgehammers and Other Good News

I found myself sighing with something like relief one day after reading a comment made by C.S. Lewis. He was responding to a statement made by a scholar who noted that he didn’t “care for” the Sermon on the Mount but “preferred” the Pauline ethics.

Lewis was of course bothered at the suggestion of Scripture alternatives between which we may freely pick and choose, and it was this that he addressed first. But his response also included a striking remark about the Sermon on the Mount itself, and this is what caught my attention. Said Lewis, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means liking or enjoying, I suppose no one cares for it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.’”(1)

To be “at ease in Zion” was the deplorable state of existence the prophet Amos spoke of in his harsh words to the Israelites.(2) Reeling in false security and erroneous confidence from their economic affluence and self-indulgent lifestyles, the Israelites, Amos warned, would be the first God would send into exile if they failed to heed his words.

The Sermon on the Mount was likely as alarming to those who first heard it as the thought of exile for those whose homeland is far more than an identity. Lewis’s comparison of Christ’s words to a sledgehammer is not far off. Those potent chapters are not unlike the electric paddles used to shock the heart back to life, back to the rhythm it was intended to have all along.

The Sermon on the Mount is like the keynote address for the kingdom Christ came to introduce and to gather us together like a hen gathers her chicks. On that mountainside, Jesus points out many of the mountains that blur vision of this kingdom. He repeatedly notes that we are not quite seeing as he sees, not grasping reality as it really is. “You have heard that it was so…” he says again and again, “but I tell you…”

His words are hard and thorough, and even the simplest of phrases is permeated with the profound glory of a kingdom we far too easily settle for only seeing in part:

Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are the meek…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.(3)

Perhaps I have become at ease in Zion if I can read these words without wondering if I am among the blessed, if I am one seeing God or missing it.

When I lose sight of the kingdom behind the haze of selfish ambition, guilt, or fear, Christ’s words become like a foghorn calling me to set my eyes on the one I follow and live up to the hope I embody: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”

When I find myself making demands of God, I am shown again just how much God demands of me. “You’ve heard it said, ‘You shall not murder. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister’ is guilty of the same.

For the crowds that gathered that day on the hillside, Jesus’s words were likely quite troubling. If God’s commandments were difficult to follow before this sermon, they were now entirely terrifying. Who can stand in this kingdom Jesus describes? And how is this good news? How could we ever be gathered into this communion?

And yet, in all of his wisdom, in his unfathomable love, in the middle of his sermon Jesus proclaims gently but confidently: Do not worry. It is as if he says to those rightly awake and trembling with the fear of certain failure, “I am not only the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets, but the embodiment of these good things and the one who makes all things possible for you.” This, he also says repeatedly. In his humanity, Jesus vicariously approaches our own, lifting us to possibilities we can only imagine.

The Sermon on the Mount is a concentrated example of how Jesus came to fulfill in us dynamically everything the law meant to show us. Like a sledgehammer to a frozen heart, his life cries out to all who are at ease in Zion, whether cold from self-indulgence or unaware of God’s life-giving pursuit of our affection. In this, Christ’s role is uncompromisable.

He is both the human Son of God who is embodiment of all we are meant to be in the fellowship of the Father and our mediator who bestows us the very possibility.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 181.
(2) Amos 6:1.
(3) Matthew 5:3-9.

Is your rock sufficient in that day?

I ran across this quote attributed to Robin WIlliams, and it struck me:

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
– Robin Williams

First take?  I reflexively agreed that yes, many things have changed due to words and ideas.  WIlliam Wilberforce, along with many others used words and ideas and effected lasting transformation of a culture and economic system based on oppression and slavery…or did it change?  Are we no longer oppressing anyone in the name of money?

Gandhi is said to have effected change due to words and ideas…but was there?  True, radical revolution of political systems, even in India where the rigid caste system enforces oppression based strictly on birth status and station?

Contemplate the many examples that will jump to mind, in short term, and then in the long run…let them be both things thought positive, and things thought negative, such as the words and ideas of Marx, Lenin, Hitler, the philosophers that underlie those ideas…

…and then consider Robin himself, his words, his ideas…his tragic end…and think about it:  what changed?  How?

There are some words and ideas whose power is radically transformative.  Everywhere these words have been taken at face value and understood within the heart properly freedom has flourished and righteousness has had opportunity to shine its brilliant hopeful light.

How about you?  How do your words bring change, and is it change for the better?  Your ideas…are you a living testament to love, life and liberty?  Or despair, faithlessness and death?

No one else really knows, but you do…

Do justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

Charissa Grace

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