It’s a while since I last blogged. I’m not egotistical enough to imagine that there are people waiting with baited breath for my next post, but I thought I would offer a short explanation for my absence.
The first reason is that I am very busy with various bits of work. I have been working on my third book, The Upside-Down Bible, which will be published in November by Darton, Longman & Todd. I have also been editing pacifist writings from the first world war for the next instalment of the White Feather Diaries, a Quaker-run online project.
However, there is a second reason for my blogging silence. I have been really quite ill. I have recurrent mental health problems and they have been particularly bad over the last few months. I think things are now improving slightly, but it’s always difficult to say. Trying to keep on top of work while wrestling with mental ill-health has naturally led to my getting behind with things, which in itself has made things more difficult – and so on.
It’s not easy to write about my mental health problems, even though I mention them quite often. I sometimes receive praise for being open about them. I appreciate the encouragement of those who make these sort of comments but I sometimes suspect that part of what I am being praised for is the ability to mention these issues in a calm manner. Most people who I meet have never seen me in the middle of a major OCD-induced panic attack. People who do experience this are likely to be freaked out or at least struggle to know how to respond. There is no blame in that. I would have no idea about how to respond to many other health conditions.
So I am all the more grateful for the many people who have supported me lately – friends who have given me lots of time and emotional support, acquaintances and colleagues who have been understanding and patient, strangers who have been friendly and offered kind words.
No individual could ever be as mad as the political and economic systems under which we live. No-one can be as dysfunctional as a world that leaves millions to starve despite having enough food to feed everyone. Nothing can be as delusional as attempts to defeat violence with violence, hatred with hatred or greed with money. This is a twisted world, and it twists us with it.
Thankfully, not everything is so bad: there is kindness, there is compassion, there is the ability to disagree. There is an alternative. There is a different power – and a different sort of power – to the powers of greed, selfishness and abuse which hold sway over so many areas of life. We can glimpse this power in all sorts of ways, from small moments of kindness to global campaigns against injustice. I have faith that this power will ultimately triumph, though I don’t blame anyone for finding this hard to believe.