Beyond all the vision quests, Scripture explanations, and spiritual exhortations, there are certain regions of human experience that are so painful, so difficult, that even religious writers touch on them rarely and with reluctance. This season, two brave books take a frank look at depression and forgiveness. Crafton, an Episcopal priest and founder of The Geranium Farm (www.geraniumfarm.org), approaches the subject of depression with astonishing candor and courage. Coming to terms with her own experience of this illness, she acknowledges depression's fundamental intractability-its meaninglessness and dullness. While she wisely dispels the Christian fear of suicide ("There's more than enough hell to go around, right here on earth"), she also rejects easy solutions. Love may not be the answer, but it minimizes the worst of the illness.
Huston (The Holy Way), a former literature teacher, tackles forgiveness, which while one of the keystones of Christian faith is remarkably hard to offer or receive. She thoughtfully helps the reader to think about preparing both to forgive and to be forgiven, for example, by eschewing "false forgiveness"; forgiving parents, spouses, and community; and being creatures of forgiveness in an unforgiving world. Both of these books are highly recommended.