Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Saturday 30 May 2020

Role of the Churches today.

A report iin the Daily Telegraph suggests that the Archbishop of Canterbury, 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.  Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent.        11 OCTOBER 2017 • 9:45PM.

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."I have those moments - you would know this - when objectively everything is fine, but you think you are, beyond description, hopeless."
The Archbishop's daughter, Katharine Welby-Roberts, has written about her own struggle with mental illness, anxiety, and suicidal feelings. She was diagnosed with depression at the age of 19, and also suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. Welby described her as "brilliant". 
Earlier this year she said that she had been unable to turn to her father for help when she had suicidal thoughts. 
“At that stage, my relationship with my parents wasn’t very close. There is only so much you can do when your daughter isn’t talking to you. They weren’t aware of how dark my mental health had got," she told the Sunday Times.

This is very much a personal story, almost a tragedy, and should be of no concern of mine. Except, it does impinge on my thoughts for the future of Churches, not only that of England. Readers of this Blog will recognise that the author is an atheist, certainly since as long ago as the Aberfan disaster. However, I have long held the belief that the Churches, not religion, can be a force for good, caring for those with mental afflictions in the same way that hospitals care for the physically sick. That the Archbishop of Canterbury can find no solace in his faith (he is 'hopeless') suggests that he too might consider my idea. Less God; more Samaritan. Less confessions and penance; more consultation and care. Less stories from two millennia ago; more up to the minute diagnostics.
It will mean that the clergy will have to be trained differently. No more masters of theology but up to date in psychology and human behaviour. a clergy able to empathise with their parishioners and offer solutions based on modern practice. Not everything need change. Uplifting music will still be part of the new liturgy as singing brings its own therapy. Communal gathering will be recommended, not to worship absent deities but celebrate the good and deserving, to give charitably, to recognise achievement. In other words, the churches should stop pandering to the diminishing numbers of the already converted; its a battle already lost, and seek to help those that are 'hopeless', literally those without hope.

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