My latest podcast is with Mrs. Nancy C. Brown discussing her book The Woman Who Was Chesterton. I really enjoyed this conversation, and you can hear the excitement in my voice. As you can probably gather, I love GK Chesterton and know quite a bit about him, but I knew next to nothing about his amazing wife. Really, she’s in a class by herself and should have societies and journals dedicated to her. In this podcast you’ll learn about this wonderful lady and all the things Nancy had to do to really give us such a fantastic biography. Listen and enjoy!
The Woman Who Was Chesterton, Nancy C. Brown’s new and definitive biography about the great woman behind GK Chesterton is coming out this month. Yet, she gave a fine preview of Frances Blogg Chesterton at Catholic Exchange today.
This might be one of the better love stories I’ve ever encountered. It’s simple and profound, and I especially like this line of GK Chesterton about his future wife:
“She is good, she is nice, she is polite, she is intelligent. She is sane. These things are scarcely novel, they are among the common objects of a morning walk. If you care to know ordinary conversation, we talked about laughter, and I said how sacred it was, and she said her monosyllable. By the way, not that it matters much, and although she does say “Yes,” she is really an acute, if not clever girl, I find. I really didn’t know it until I began to throw out a few Christian reflections. She hasn’t been broadened enough by reading, but when it comes to interior meanings, she’s all there.”
Today’s podcast is mostly me sitting back and letting a theologian do all the talking, which was good as I don’t think I could have added as much. Thomas J. Nash is a theologian with EWTN and a fantastic author. His latest book, The Biblical Roots of the Mass, is a good book that gets beyond the apologetics squabbles and offers a fine introduction for where we Catholics get our ideas about the Mass, the Liturgy, and the Eucharist. I mean it when I say that he pretty much covers Biblical typology in 20 minutes. Listen, share, and enjoy!
Click the big ol’ image to your right or click this shiny link here to listen.
My latest podcast features Michele Chronister of My Domestic Monastery and we talk about a lot of fun things in this one. Namely, her work with disabled adults and what powerful lessons she learned about life, sanctity, and joy from that challenging and rewarding vocation. We also talk about the monastic rhythms of domestic life and the things she’s gleaned from the Liturgy of the Hours.
Take a listen by clicking here or on that image you see below. Then be a doll and give us a share and a subscription.
I’m finally back in the podcast saddle talking with Dr. Mark Giszczak, a writer and professor. I had to take a break while I tried to get a handle on my new job, which is now editing books for Sophia Institute Press. I’m very excited but it’s also a lot to do. Click this link or the photo to give a listen, and then give a like or a share, if you’d be so kind.
Any of you follow me on facebook or twitter are probably aware that I was at the 34th annual GK Chesterton Conference in San Antonio, TX this past weekend. I was mostly there to work, to promote books and the Catholic Exchange brand but I still got to go out and enjoy the many friends, old and new, who descended upon the historic hotel for some wine, songs, and quotations of Chesterton. In many ways, it was like being at summer camp but for adults. I miss everyone already.
Among the great joys were getting to sit down with the brilliant author of the upcoming The Woman Who Was Chesterton, Ms. Nancy C. Brown, for a bit of a podcast interview. So take a listen by clicking here, or that big ol’ GKC image to right. That’s a good fellow.
I’ve heard of Nancy’s work and it was a joy to be able to speak with her to learn more about what drives her. I also got to meet fellow writers and editors, so it was an odd lot of rowdy men and women who proclaim the love of Christ while giving you a hug or a clever insult. That part is done and I look forward to next year. Also, my dear reader, I look forward to meeting you there if you’d be so kind as to join us.
This might be my most important podcast interview. I sat down with Karen Edmisten to talk about how parents can find healing after a miscarriage and also what we as friends and loved ones can do to help those whom we love when they suffer what is often an invisible grief. Take a listen and please do share.
My last piece on depression as a cold reboot brought a lot of new readers to this little blog, which I am glad for and it always surprises me how much people engage on this topic.
What you may not know is that I have a day job and that’s why my blogging is oh so uneven. One of those things I do is run a podcast at Catholic Exchange. It is a great way to get to know some of the best writers out there. We have fun, we also get to hear amazing stories such as in my interview with Dawn Eden, that is one of the most popular.
The latest is an interview with Jessica Archuleta, a writer and blogger at Every Home a Monastery. She is a fantastic woman who has gone through a lot and still comes out with such an unimaginable strength and warmth. On top of that, she has a bunch of beautiful kids whom she homeschools. I honestly don’t know how she gets it all done.
Thomas L. McDonald always impresses me. He is a bright and sharp writer who has a way to cut through some of the less helpful things out there and get to the heart of what it is to be a Catholic whose mind often features “Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed” pits and mountains. In a way, he captures both the darkness and the strange, hidden graces that comes with being a man of depression and faith.
His latest musings on depression are especially interesting. In “The Cold Reboot of the Soul,” he begins by explaining what depression is not and delves into one the better short explanations I’ve ever read,
Depression isn’t sadness. It’s not even in the same emotional class. Depression is like a vice on your brain. It can sometimes squeeze so tightly that the sufferer hallucinates. It’s like mental suffocation. And it comes on for no reason, even in the midst of happiness.
He does mention that drugs help, which is indeed my experience. I am, after years of avoiding them, back on medication and the difference is something impressive. Not everyone has positive experiences of medication, and I certainly had a rather negative reaction to one form of medication and swore off of them for years. However, like all forms of therapy, just one form is not a cure but should act as a full mosaic in treatment. Like exercise, proper diet, seeing a therapist regularly, and finding fulfilling hobbies, medication is a long-haul process that will not bring relief overnight. Rather, it corrects one particular short-coming in the body to give the mind a floor for how deep the depression can sink. But it does still sink. Oh boy, does it ever!
I have written on this subject quite a bit, I still feel uncomfortable telling people about this in person. Most folks, in their tender hearts, want to help and fix it and, well, this is a lifetime condition. There is no “fixing” it and thus they either feel like I’m not even trying or they assume I have abandoned hope because their usual treatments for sadness (which, remember is distinct from depression) are not necessarily going to work on me. It’s not their fault, but often times I will tell people about my periods of absolute melancholy where my mind seems to refuse to listen to my demands to open up to the light and then I end up having to comfort them. Believe me, it’s even worse when I confess to the bark of the black dog telling me to end it all. I can still remember having to give one friend a hug and assuring them I had no real plans, but that was a lie. However, the guilt of it, even if it’s nothing either party did wrong, is sometimes one more stress I don’t need.
So, I respect Tom, Dawn Eden, and host of other great writers who are willing to be honest about their afflictions of the mind and to, ultimately, provide hope to all of us. There is hope that we are not alone. And in our little fellowship, we find hope that the God who raised the dead and brought light to the world can illuminate us enough to keep going.
Tom offers one particular idea that I think is exploring. In thinking upon his depression and all the problems it brings, he suggests there might be a better way to think about depression, which I quote at length:
As Christians, we need to think differently. Perhaps that pit is not despair, which after all is a sin. Perhaps it’s not even a pit. Perhaps it’s an invitation, a blank slate, a clean white sheet of paper.
When a computer starts to malfunction, what do you do?
You turn it off.
When you power it all the way down and then restart it, it’s called a cold reboot. A cold reboot interrupts the power and clears the memory leaks that may be causing a system to run poorly. Most everyday computer problems can be solved by simply restarting the system a couple of times.
Perhaps depression functions like a cold reboot of the soul. What does depression feel like? Paradoxically, it’s both a weight and an emptiness. Paradox is sometimes a cue that we’re dealing with the transcendent.
For a Christian, every weight is a cross.
For a Christian, every emptiness is a desert.
The cross is our participation in the divine work of Christ. The desert is the place where we empty ourselves so we may be filled with the Spirit.
In America, where the prosperity gospel vexes us all, we sometimes think that ill fortune and things like mental illness can’t be part of our Christian life. They are though, because Christ did not rise from the dead to make us rich, content suburbanites. He came that the dead may live again and that we may find Easter joy even on Good Friday. God has entered the world and united Himself to it so deeply, that we can think of it as a merging. Not only that, but we find in Him our total reason for being, but we must be willing to participate in both Good Friday and Easter.
Depression is not a curse, though it often feels that way. It is a cross and a desert that is, in many ways, a way of participating in the life of Christ. It will feel heavy, burdensome, and no doubt our prayers will be for this cross to pass us up, just for a little while. Still, it can be an invitation to delve deeply into uniting ourselves with our Christ. As Ven Francis Libermann once wrote,“I never cross a bridge without the thought of throwing myself over the parapet, to put an end to these afflictions. But the sight of my Jesus sustains me and gives me patience.”
This, then, is a Cross that calls us to a fuller participation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this makes it easier. However, if Tom is right, then at least it gives us a purpose and a meaning to our pain. I can say this from experience: There is no pain like that which is suffered without a reason. While I anticipate I will learn and grow from my depression all my life, perhaps there is also a way to turn it towards the light.
All of you, my friends and comrades in these afflictions of the mind, will remain in our prayers. Please leave me a comment to tell me your thoughts or use the “About Me” header above to contact me.