Depression is real. And it is treatable and manageable. At three junctures I started my life over again. When life-as-I-knew-it ended, I started life anew essentially with few resources. Each time, I found a new life filled with purpose and meaning and happiness I never considered available to me.
Sometimes the Divine is revealed in a way that stops us in our tracks, almost paralyzed by the beauty. And we realize that what is before our eyes is greater than the sum of the parts.
These are trying times for so many of us. I am recording my life into recovery and wellness. And with that, I am passing along things I did as self-help. For one thing, I sought out ways to change my thought-life. Louise Hay and others feed me with nourishment I desperately needed when I needed it.
Positive thoughts gave me my life back, transformed.
Best wishes for you and the life you desire . . .
Birth Of A (Christian) Nation: Scholars Debate The Genesis Of A Popular Myth
The New York Times over the weekend ran a provocative column by Kevin M. Kruse, a history professor at Princeton University, on the origins of the “Christian nation” myth.
Kruse, author of the book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, argues that the “Christian nation” idea really took off in the early 1930s when a band of business leaders endorsed the concept as a way of fighting back against President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
I haven’t read Kruse’s book, but his Timescolumn is thought-provoking and well argued. It’s worth your time. I was especially interested in Kruse’s use of the term “Christian libertarian” to describe some of the prominent corporate leaders of the “Christian nation” crusade. I’ve had the same thought while attending meetings of Religious Right organizations. At the annual Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC) there’s very little talk these days about religion and theology. Rather, the events have the feel of Heritage Foundation briefings. (In fact, the Heritage Foundation co-sponsors the Summit.)
These events are essentially primers of libertarian economic theory, with the main idea of the FRC these days being not that Jesus is good but that government is always bad. God is still part of their trinity, but the other two figures are President Ronald W. Reagan and Ayn Rand. (Ironically, Rand was an atheist.) At the Summit, Reagan’s name is dropped constantly – Jesus’s, not so much.
Kruse’s ideas are interesting and worth exploring in more detail, but I think there may be more to the story. This July, former Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green will publish a new book titled Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding. I received an early copy and read it a few weeks ago. Green, who is now a professor of law at Willamette University in Oregon, argues that the “Christian nation” myth springs from the 1820s, during a time of growing religious piety when a generation that rose up after the Founding Fathers began to cast about for a foundational myth that would link the still-new nation with the Almighty in a profound way.
I think Kruse and Green are both right. The “Christian nation” thesis, it seems to me, rears its head most powerfully during times of change and tension. It’s not surprising that the concept first appeared early in the 19th century. As the growing nation struggled to find its place on the world stage, a belief that the United States was God’s holy experiment and somehow favored by the hand of Providence provided comfort and assurance that what the country and its leaders did was right and good because it was ordained by God. (Even when it wasn’t right – such as our treatment of the Native peoples.)
The concept arose again powerfully during the Civil War (with both sides claiming God’s support) and its aftermath. The belief was that a “Christian nation” would sort through the chaos and secure its destiny and build a new American empire from sea to sea.
During the Great Depression, obviously a time of great upheaval, the “Christian nation” concept flared anew. If Kruse is right, this time it was pressed into service to fend off the rise of centralized, activist government and the “socialism” of the New Deal.
The nation saw a flicker of the concept again during World War II, with some pastors arguing that only a unified “Christian nation” could defeat the Axis Powers. But the idea went into fairly steep decline for many years after that. Kruse notes that President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s religious concepts were much more non-sectarian. Thus, it was blandly ecumenical phrases like “In God We Trust” and “under God” that were pressed into service against the Communists. America’s “civil religion” was born, a concept that is itself not without problems.
One thing is clear: The “Christian nation” concept does not belong to the Founders. The idea has surfaced from time to time throughout our history, but it can’t be pinned on the men who wrote the Constitution.
For proof of that, we need only read the text of the document itself.
An affirmation 4 U:
"I release to the Comforter any personal feelings of anxiety, sadness, guilt, and anger and allow Peace to fill the void."
What am I doing here?
Such a strange question, when you think about it. After all, we were born “here”, raised “here” and taught to desire all the things that “here” can offer, whether they be material things, such as a new car, or the intangibles, such as romantic love. So why do we feel this odd sense that we are here for a greater reason, and often clueless as to what that reason is? I believe it is the knowledge, no matter how deeply buried (or ignored), that are true selves are spiritual and that our true home is somewhere other than this three-dimensional plane.
While those who consciously ask the question often feel tortured by their seeming inability to find an answer, those who do not ask the question may suffer even more deeply. They feel a hole inside them but cannot put a name to it; as a result, they often fill it with it unhealthy things like drugs, alcohol or toxic relationships. Of course, these things only leave them feeling emptier, so they up the “dosage”, and so on.
The “why am I here” question weighs on us most when we are feeling lost or facing some sort of adversity. Then the question becomes, “What is the purpose of all this struggling? Why am I even here if x, y, and z is going to happen to me?” But really, we just want to know what we can do to make the struggle meaningful.
The answer is both simple and complex at the same time. Complex, because each of us has different needs, desires, and abilities, as well as our own unique part to play in this human mosaic. Simple, because all of us can find this purpose by connecting to something larger than ourselves, such as God or nature, and / or outside ourselves, such as another person or a humanitarian cause. In The Two Agreements, I discuss how Jesus’ purpose was to share the Good News and bring people together around an understanding of our oneness with God and with each other.
Similarly, it is by finding our connection to Source, and to each other, that we find our own way to serve. In other words, we have to go within to go without. Take a few minutes each day to clear your mind of the “to do” list and any other chatter that plagues you. Then, in the quiet, ask yourself, “What matters to me? What am I passionate about? How can I make ‘here’ a better place?” I am not suggesting that the meaning of your life will come to you in that moment (although it has for some people), but I can tell you that taking these first steps on the path will lead to a sense of connection, and of purpose.
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.
A healthy spiritual life is vital to recovery and wellness for those living with a mental health challenge. I share my spiritual faith system, one of my own design. In my book, I encourage everyone to do the same - create a spiritual life that works for you.
Purchase and read my book, The Two Agreements: A Good News Story for Our Time. In its pages, you can find ideas on finding peace and health. And you will be making a donation to the Tennessee local chapter.
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