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.
"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
"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
"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
"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