The Intersection Between Religion and Mental Health: A Reading List

Longreads

This week, I’ve compiled four pieces about the intersection of religion, mental illness, safe spaces and alternative caregiving.

“Humanist Caregiving: Do We Need Chaplains or Counselors?” (Walker Bristol, Patheos, October 2014)

Atheist communities at Yale, Harvard and Tufts have chaplains who believe the work they do transcends religion; they provide a safe space for existential exploration. What does it mean to be a humanist chaplain? How does their work differ from social work or therapy?

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The Writing Life: Advice from a Counterculture Icon

The Daily Post

Everyone should read at least one Kurt Vonnegut book — Welcome to the Monkey House and Mother Night are my favorites. They’re blunt. Dark. Demanding. And they make you think, and laugh, and want to be a better person. What more can we ask of literature, and what better person to turn to for tough love on writing?

It’s not surprising that his thoughts on art, writing, and the writing life are just as thought-provoking, funny, and inspiring…

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the…

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Magical ?

Although we don’t all believe in magic,
There are some times i believe moments are magical
Like the time our souls danced against the light
I had my arms wrapped around him
To feel the closeness of being close to someone for the first time.
Letting my maze runner guard around my heart come down
And it be okay.
Just to squeeze and ingest his intoxicating smell. I ingested his scent like a cat marking its territory.
It was nothing sexual
Just intimate
Just beautiful
I was addicted to holding him, observing, and taking the scenery that was him.
Even looking at the intricate scars and flaws on him.
Like a beautiful mistake (at the risk of sounding corny)
These things mean nothing to people in my generation probably.
But it means the world to me.
We swayed to the sound of the music pouring out of the speakers.
The music might as well have been off.
Cause we danced to our personal song. Our bodies swayed to a different tune.
A tune we knew
A tune we only knew the words and melody to.
Is this magic?
Sure I’m in a trance but am I really under a hypnotic spell? Or hypnotic thrill?
To know that I’ve gained and I lost but that means nothing when I’m being held down by the weight of this human being is relieving as all hell.
I don’t wanna pour my whole heart into this and hurt.
So our souls danced against that dim light and the song ended we stayed.
Just cool
Just calm
Could this be magical?

Richard Price On Growing Up In the Golden Age of Public Housing

Longreads

The New York City Housing Authority began construction on the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses in 1948. The first tenants—including the family of novelist Richard Price—began moving in during the spring of 1951. In a recent piece for Guernica, Price detailed the rise and fall of public housing in New York, told through the lens of his own upbringing. Below are some of his early recollections:

This was the beginning of public housing’s golden age. And it would last for roughly fifteen years.
Similarly résuméd couples in their mid- to late twenties found each other effortlessly, quickly forming tightly knit cliques. The men were postal workers, chauffeurs, garment factory foremen, institutional cafeteria managers, cabbies, truck drivers, subway motormen, and the odd luncheonette or bar owner. The wives/mothers did what wives/mothers did back then. Housewifing, maybe taking on a little part-time work to cut the drudgery if their own mothers could cover…

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Toward Clarity: Three Tips for Better Writing

The Daily Post

Building on Cheri‘s previouswork, we’ve got three more ideas to help you identify needless phrases and excise cruft to create clear, original prose.

1. Excise “at the end of the day…”

New here? Looking for more tips on how to improve your writing? Check out our previous articles in the Language and Grammar category.

Looking for inspiration for daily writing practice? Check out our writing prompts.

How many times have you seen this phrase, “at the end of the day,” used to introduce a summary, or preface an important point, often with resignation? “at the end of the day” is a classic example of “throat clearing,” where a writer uses a phrase to work up to their main point. The phrase has been so overused in speech and in print it’s become a cliché. In the spirit of “omitting needless words,” excise “at the end…

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‘I Have Achieved a Modicum of Success, But I Never Stop Working’: Roxane Gay on ‘The Price of Black Ambition’

Longreads

I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough. This attitude leaves me always relentless, always working hard enough and then harder still. I am ashamed that sometimes a part of me believes we, as a people, will be saved by those among us who are exceptional without considering who might pay the price for such salvation or who would be left behind.

Du Bois was a vocal proponent of the “Talented Tenth,” this idea that out of every ten black men, one was destined for greatness, destined to become the powerful leader black people needed to rise up and overcome and advance. This 10 percent of men were to be educated and mentored so they…

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The Tide

In the water, the tide slaps me in the face

It’s pretty odd that this cold water is what I embrace

and let myself sink and float into

Who knew the tide could be this strong?

It’s as strong as the inevitable and unwavering hold

my mother has over me

Everyone could tell me the same thing over and over

again and I  could accept like it means nothing.

But when my mom says it, her words slap me in the

face and change something within me.

Who knew the tide could be so strong?

The tide leaves me be

it leaves me borderline sedated with not

a thought or control in my mind

I forget about the difficult tomorrow that

faces me.

It’s all like a mirage.

No human could ever tap into this part of me

as much as I try to find someone who could

Only nature can make me feel nothing but

Nirvana.

Who knew the tide could be this strong?

With people there’s an ending or let down but

with the tide it never ends. It’s like a dangerous yet

thrilling ride.

It never lets me down but it could kill me.

As I open my eyes I see nothing but blue,

darkness, and tranquility. Should I stay and

let the blue take me over? Like a drug taking

over a person’s life? Or do I face the living and

tomorrow ?

Dammit I’ll take my chances

I swim up to the surface

Who knew the tide could be so freeing?