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Liturgical Press

Dust in the Blood

A Theology of Life with Depression

Jessica Coblentz

Dust in the Blood SEE INSIDE
Dust in the Blood

ISBN: 9780814685020, 8502

Details: 248 pgs, 6 x 9 x 5/8
Publication Date: 01/15/2022
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2023 College Theology Society Best Book Award

2023 Catholic Media Association Third Place Award, Theology – Morality, Ethics, Christology, Mariology, and Redemption

2023 Association of Catholic Publishers Second Place Award, Theology

Dust in the Blood; considers the harrowing realities of life with depression from a Christian theological perspective. In conversation with popular Christian theologies of depression that justify why this suffering exists and prescribe how people ought to relate to it, Coblentz offers another Christian approach to this condition: she reflects on depression as a wilderness experience. Weaving first-person narratives of depression, contemporary theologies of suffering, and ancient biblical tales of the wilderness, especially the story of Hagar, Coblentz argues for and contributes to an expansion of Christian ideas about what depression is, how God relates to it, and how Christians should understand and respond to depression in turn.

Jessica Coblentz, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where her research and teaching focuses on Catholic systematic theology, feminist theologies, and mental health in theological perspective.

ISBN: 9780814685020, 8502

Details: 248 pgs, 6 x 9 x 5/8
Publication Date: 01/15/2022


"Born from Coblentz's own experience, Dust in the Blood is a loving theological accompaniment of all who live with chronic depression. As a systematic theologian, she expresses this love by offering new insight into the classic theological discussion of suffering and by arguing that those with depression deserve better than silencing or moralizing. Any Christian theologian reflecting on what it means to be human should read this book, as should anybody who lives with depression or ministers to people with depression."
Elizabeth Antus, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Boston College

"This is the book I have been waiting for. With insight and sensitivity, Jessica Coblentz offers a theological field guide for ministers and communities hoping to faithfully accompany those stumbling through the 'unhomelike' landscapes of depression. In Dust in the Blood, scripture, systematic theology, and lived experience flow together into a wellspring of resources for those of us with intimate knowledge of the depressive wilderness."
Rev. David Finnegan-Hosey, author of Christ on the Psych Ward and Grace is a Pre-Existing Condition: Faith, Systems, and Mental Healthcare

"Honoring first-person experiences of depression—including her own—Jessica Coblentz proposes ways of speaking theologically about depression that make space for the meaninglessness that so many depression sufferers know well. She turns to biblical stories of wilderness and the unsettling story of Hagar to offer a theological account of living with depression that takes dislocation and isolation seriously. Even as most of the wilderness stories lack resolution, Coblentz points to ways in which God shows up in those desolate spaces. She also offers a vision for what it means to accompany those who live with depression, including advocating for more access to psychiatric resources and care. A compelling and powerful addition to theological conversations about those who suffer from depression and all of us who love them."
Deanna A. Thompson, Martin E. Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy, St. Olaf College

"This is a remarkable work that integrates psychology in deliberate theological reflection to disclose and probe some of the wrenching spiritual pain and suffering of depression. Jessica Coblentz is rigorous and poignant, resolute and passionate, uncompromising and gracious. This book makes an important contribution to systematic, practical, pastoral, and foundational theologies."
Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, Professor Emerita, Boston College

"This book’s methodological rigor, careful exegesis, and pastoral wisdom drawn from both Scripture and tradition make it an important contribution to literature on faith and depression. Pastors, chaplains, and seminary students will find this book important for finding ways to speak pastorally to those struggling with depression and trying to seek and find God amid the ravages of depression."
The Englewood Review of Books

"Coblentz is doing important work that should be continued in theological circles. Christian communities must be present without limitation for those who suffer, without imposing artificial meaning onto depression, without judging the sufferers. Loving and being present to sufferers means changing the shape of our theologies, and Coblentz has taken a step in that direction."
Catholic Books Review

"The great strength of the book is the way Coblentz orients sophisticated theology toward grounding pastoral and spiritual work. She nimbly connects theological nuances with their resonances in experience, keeping the book's tight focus on the ultimate question of discipleship: how are we to be people of hope even here in such wilderness?"
Journal of Moral Theology

"Coblentz's clear and engaging prose and weighty insight will hopefully encourage understanding and empathy for those suffering all forms of depressive illness. More importantly, sufferers themselves may find home here."
Theological Studies

"Interweaving personal narratives with contemporary theology, Coblentz issues an invitation to 'sketch new maps' of the mental health landscape in Christian discourse."
Christian Century

"Coblentz weaves reflection upon her own experiences of depression through the book, enlivening her theoretical discourse and highlighting her own commitments to first-person meaning-making."

"Coblentz tackles the problem of evil and existential suffering in a deep way, where suffering is a mystery to behold rather than a problem to be solved with easy answers. Her chapter on how (not) to talk about depression is particularly insightful."
Catholic Media Association

"This book is important and timely. It is clearly written, and theologically sophisticated yet accessible to a wide audience. Coblentz does not allow us to escape from the sorrow of intense suffering by imposing theories that explain it away or justify it. But her clear-eyed analysis of depression also witnesses to the appearance of God in the most harrowing of places and offers glimmers of possibility for those who need it most."

"A robust biblical account of the wilderness as a theological touchstone for depression forms the beating heart of Coblentz's work."
Studies in Christian Ethics