Browsing Tag

Tim LaHaye

Social Issues

"How to Win Over Depression" review: 212-241

To be honest, if Tim had stopped writing the chapter on how to help your depressed child at page 216, I wouldn’t have a single problem with anything he says in this single, solitary chapter. His first bits of advice are:

  1. Give your children a lot of love and affection.
  2. Accept them.
  3. Avoid anger in the home.

Those are things I can absolutely get behind, and I’m actually surprised that Tim included “accept your children” here– acceptance isn’t something conservative Christians usually talk about in regards to raising children. But then he does a complete about face with the rest of his advice, which is focused on “discipline,” which he makes clear is “the rod.” He says that “The Bible makes it very clear that if you spare the rod, you will spoil the child” (217), and I’d like to take this moment to point out that this isn’t actually a Bible verse. It’s a quote from a satirical poem by Samuel Butler that mockingly suggests that spanking your romantic interest will make them love you.

Also, for an alternative interpretation on all those “rod” passages in Proverbs, I recommend reading this. Many Christians believe that those metaphors in Proverbs are supposed to be taken literally as a command to physically abuse their children, but I, and many other Christians, believe that is a grossly inaccurate interpretation.

Tim also takes the time to make sure his reader knows not to discipline his children “in anger,” and I want sit on that for a moment. A recent study revealed that the way my parents were taught to spank me– be calm during, and then be extremely affectionate and warm after– can actually make anxiety worse. The lead researcher suggests this might be because it’s “simply too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home.”

There’s also evidence linking the sort of spanking that Tim advocates to depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, and substance abuse later in the child’s life, which completely unravels his argument that children need to be physically abused in order to have the depression literally beat out of them. Other studies suggest that spanking can cause cognitive impairment and increase aggression. Couple that with the fact that many parents are likely to underestimate how hard they are hitting their child as well as how often they spank, it should be obvious to all of us that spanking is actively harmful, ineffectual, and not something even the most loving parent can practice responsibly.

Tim claims that spanking “assures the child of his parent’s love” (218), but I can think of few claims more preposterous. How in the world is hitting a child supposed to communicate “I love you”? I believed that spanking was a moral imperative for most of my life, and I never connected it to how much my parent’s loved me. I believed it was necessary, but that was completely separate from how much my parents loved me. The closest word to describe what I felt after a beating would be rage. It was humiliating and excruciating, and having to look at my parent and mumble something about loving them made me so angry I could choke.

Oh, it temporarily “fixed” my behavior. I usually managed to slap on the “thankful attitude” that Tim thinks parents should spank their children into (221), but it was a lie. It was something I pretended out of some sort of survival mechanism. Spanking “works” because of fear, not love.


“How to Help a Depressed Friend” wasn’t too terrible; his only real piece of advice in this chapter is not to be “too cheerful,” mostly because he thinks that depressed people find it annoying. That’s not true in my experience– I find overly cheery people annoying all of the time. Tim’s obliviousness also comes out a little bit with “Even the depressed will rarely refuse prayer, which they usually recognize as their last hope” (226). I have desperately wanted to say “oh my god, no” many times when someone has offered to pray with me, and the only thing that keeps from me vocalizing it is the fact that would generally be considered fairly rude.

The last two chapters were troubling, since he mostly focuses on biblical figured to communicate the message that depression is a sin. What troubles me is that he chose examples like Jeremiah and his Lamentations. I think it’s a truth (almost) universally acknowledges that white middle-class American Christians have lost the ability to lament. A google search of “Christians need lament” turned up articles from pretty much every significant American Christian movement, from The Gospel Coalition to the Emergents.

One of the things that deeply bothers me about Christian culture is this whole “happy happy joy joy,” “Rejoice in the Lord Always, and again I say rejoice” attitude toward faith and worship is that it ignores reality. Living on planet earth is a catastrophic nightmare sometimes, and if we are robbed of our ability to grieve and lament, then we’ve lost a connection to our humanity. Christianity is not about being happy, but sometimes I get the feeling that’s what it’s been reduced to. Our theology needs room for shit just happens, and “Rejoice in the Lord!” doesn’t cover it.

All the way through this book, Tim has advocated a position that being thankful for everything, including the awful, terrible, no-good stuff, is the only way to avoid depression, but I think all that really does is turn us into Stepford-level automatons. We’re people, and part of being human means being sad.

In the end, that’s the biggest mistake Tim has made in How to Win Over Depression. He doesn’t understand what depression actually is– he confuses it with sadness, with grief (227), and then tells all of us that experiencing those emotions is sinful. He robs us all of our humanity.


"How to Win Over Depression" review: 192-211

Thankfully, I think we only have this week and next week and then we’ll be done with this book. One of my biggest complaints today is that this book wasn’t edited– only proofread. There’s not a lot of development to this book, and Tim has a tendency to repeat himself. This chapter– “Ten Steps to Victory Over Depression”– barely contributes anything new to the book.

A few interesting things happen, though. In a previous post I’d mentioned that Tim’s language surrounding his “self-pity” concept echoes how evangelicals typically talk about “bitterness.” However, in this chapter, he just comes right out and says it:

By gaining the ability from Him to forgive her parents, she removed the root of bitterness that had immobilized her for years. (193)

He spends a lot of time talking about bitterness in this chapter– all of the examples he gives are people he thinks of as “bitter,” but, once again, he completely and totally ignores the realities that abuse victims have to face every day. Infuriatingly, he even dismisses one woman’s experience as being imaginary. This woman says that her mother “smothered and dominated” her “every decision,” but Tim overrides that opinion and says her mother was just a struggling single mom who got a little over-protective and she’s just imagining her problems because some guy who took a psychology class told her she had them (200).

I’m not even shitting you. This woman came to him, described an extremely controlling home environment, and Tim says she made it up. I cannot even imagine the re-victimization and trauma that he has put these people through. He has an extremely misogynistic opinion of women: this chapter included examples of five women who were 1) vain, 2) a bad mother, 3) liars, 4) gossips, and 5) nags. He even praised a HR executive for basing his hiring decisions on the submissiveness and gentility of the men’s wives (203)!

The book might have gone flying a few times today, especially when I got to this:

If the individual is aware of your resentment or bitterness, apologize personally if possible or by mail. Admittedly, this is a very difficult gesture, but it is essential for emotional stability. (199)

Oh. My. God. Oh my god.

If I were being counseled by Tim, he’d tell me that I must contact my rapist and apologize to him or I’ll never have emotional stability and “spiritual maturity” (198). This shit is fucking dangerous. I go out of my way to make sure that he can’t find me. I don’t have my location anywhere– not on Facebook, not on Twitter, not on LinkedIn. I don’t connect any of my accounts to my phone number, no matter how much Google and Facebook pester me about it. I ask people who take pictures of me not to tag the location on Facebook. I not only blocked him on every platform I have, I also blocked everyone he knows. I maintain this blocking religiously. I have cut off contact with friends because they were still mutuals with him.

And Tim would tell me I’d have to undo all of that. Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln.

But, the biggest problem with this chapter is that he emphasizes, once again, that all anyone really has to do to overcome depression is give thanks. If we just inculcate a “spirit of thanksgiving” and maintain a “thankful heart,” then everything will be fine and our depression will go away.

Except that’s just plain not true.

When my rapist ended our engagement three months before the wedding, one of the things he told me (besides “I can’t trust that you’ll be a submissive wife”) is that I am a “persistently negative person.” Believing my rapist to be a better judge of my character than I was, I made it my New Year’s Resolution to find something every day to be thankful for, no matter how small or big. I did this publicly; every day I would post a status update that began with “happiness is” and then finished it with something like “snickerdoodle coffee!” or “buying another bookcase!” or “being accepted to grad school!”

That year was the worst depression I’ve ever had.

This past winter was a struggle because of depression, as well. But Handsome could tell you that at the end of every day when I would be laying in his arms while we watched Gilmore Girls, drinking tea, that I would look up at him and say something about how blessed my life is, about how grateful I am for my life with him, that there were so many moments in my life to be thankful for– even in the midst of gut-wrenching despair and grief. I have never ceased being thankful, mostly for the small things. Vanilla beans and carmelized onions and buttermilk pancakes. Munchkin games. Moonlit strolls in the woods. Soft pine needles. Ocean spray. Swimming pools. Pride parades.

I’m still depressed, though. It’s getting better now that summer is here, finally (thankssomuch seasonal affective disorder), but all through this winter I was thankful, and it didn’t matter. It didn’t change how my body and mind responded to the darkness.

I think if I was ever Tim’s patient and I tried to take him seriously, I probably would have died.


In much happier news– remember the poll I did before I started How to Win Over Depression and Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love was neck-and-neck with Tim’s book? Well, a good friend, Dani Kelley, decided to take on her own review series. Redeeming Love was one of her favorite books as a teen and young woman, so I’m very much interested in her perspective on the book now that she’s come out of purity culture and fundamentalist Christianity. I didn’t read it until after I was already a feminist and critical of purity culture, so I think Dani’s take on things will be more valuable than mine.

My plan is to cross-post her review series every Monday starting July 6th, and I’ll be reading along with her and adding some of my own thoughts. Comments will be closed on those posts so that we can keep the engagement in one place on her blog (which is fantastic and y’all should be reading it if you’re not already).

Social Issues

"How to Win Over Depression" review: 160-191

Honestly, this chapter, which Tim titled “Depression and Your Temperament,” was more than a little befuddling. He bases his entire argument on Hippocrates’ Humorism— and no, I’m not joking. This chapter is dedicated to a medical theory thousands of years old that was completely obliterated by the advent of modern medical knowledge.

What is ironic is that Tim uses the concept of the “Four Temperaments”– even attributing this idea to Hippocrates– without bothering to note that in Hippocratic theory, the bodily humors (yellow and black bile, phlegm, and blood) affected temperament. Tim is still continuing to insist that biology is not linked to depression in any way (178), all the while relying on a theory that totally contradicts him.

Something that amused me about this chapter was reading his descriptions of the Four Temperaments (which are: sanguine, choleric, melancholy, and phlegmatic) felt like reading horoscope personality profiles. Supposedly, according to this test, I’m phlegmatic, and reading Tim’s description of the phlegmatic felt about as accurate to me as reading what Virgos are supposed to be like.

What bothered me about this chapter is that Tim argues that some personalities are far more prone to depression than others, which sounds like just that much swill. The sanguine and choleric personalities, if they’re “filled with the Holy Spirit,” will be “untroubled by depression” (164) or “will never become depressed” (167); the melancholic will merely be “helped” by the Spirit to “try to avoid depression” (174) and the phlegmatic will “definitely become depressed” (175).

Tim is practicing introversion discrimination in this chapter. “Sanguine” and “choleric” personalities are both extroverted: sanguine people are the “social butterfly,” often charismatic and outgoing, while the choleric is the passionate, spontaneous personality type. Melancholy people are creative, but private (think Romantic poet), and phlegmatic persons are quiet and calm.

This is a society-wide problem. As Steven Dison in the linked article points out, in the aftermath of events like the Aurora theater shooting, the media tends to get myopic about the perpetrator’s personality and social life. These mass shooters seem to be withdrawn, secluded, anti-social? Well, that must mean that being withdrawn and anti-social is bad. Whether or not these people are actually any of those things gets lost in all the talking-head chatter about it. In our culture, traits associated with introversion (like preferring seclusion to social events) are rhetorically linked with mental illness, and Tim does that in this chapter.

Tim is also deeply ignorant about the existence of personality disorders. In his description of how sanguine people can experience depression (which they can easily overcome with the Spirit, while the introverted temperaments can’t), what he describes sounds like narcissistic personality disorder:

As these charming sanguines who often act like overgrown children become aware of their own shallowness, their insecurities are heightened. They become defensive, sensitive to slights or criticisms, almost obsessed with others’ opinions of them. (163)

And his description of how choleric people experience depression (“he quickly becomes angry … he explodes all over everyone else” (165) sounds like borderline personality disorder. People with all sorts of temperaments and personalities can experience these disorders, or have maladaptive behavior that echoes them.

But the most frustrating thing about this chapter is that he sees depression as the exception for sanguine and choleric temperaments, but the natural consequence of being melancholic or phlegmatic. In the context of How to Win Over Depression, this is especially bad, because he has made it crystal clear that depression is a result of sin; the logical progression is that melancholic and phlegmatic people are naturally more sinful– in regard to depression– than sanguine or choleric persons. See what I mean about introversion discrimination?


The next two chapters are “Depression and the Occult”  and “Depression and Music.” Not much needs to be said about “Depression and the Occult”– he spends a few pages telling Christians to not learn about it because Satan, and that suicides are caused by demonic possession (because demons like to inflict self-harm, as illustrated by Matthew 17).

“Depression and Music” pissed me off, though. This is on the first page:

To a large extent, the highest musical forms were found in the western civilizations. In fact, that art of music was not really developed to any high degree of proficiency in other countries because of the influence of the various religions on their respective cultures … Paganism has always been dominated by the dirge or the chant. (187)


I mean, I’ve heard this before– I was explicitly taught this in my “History of Music” class at Pensacola Christian College, but it took barely any digging at all to figure out how utterly ignorant and false that idea is. For an excellent discussion of how fundamentalists are flagrantly racist when it comes to music, I suggest you read “Patriarchy, Christian Reconstructionism, and White Supremacy” (scroll down to “Note on Music”).

Also, the only people who argue things like “Western Music is just better” argue ridiculous things like “black music had no affect on American rock music,” which is asinine in the extreme.

But that wasn’t the only thing that pissed me off about this chapter, because Tim also said this:

The once happy music of the West, because of the atheistic control of the communications media, is rapidly degenerating into the same depressing tunes I heard in India, Africa, and China. Unless a musician is filled with the Holy Spirit, he will tend to create morbid, pessimistic, negative music that features a detrimental beat or tune. We need a return to happy music today.”


Also, I looked up what the most popular music was in 1974, when this book was published, and Tim is just so wrong. The chart-topping numbers that year were songs like “The Loco-Motion,” “Kung Fu Fighting,” “Rock Your Baby,” and  “Hooked on a Feeling,” all of which are pretty doggone happy. The rest of the songs were mostly about how much love is amazing, plus “Cats in the Cradle” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Depressing music? Ok, if you listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” on repeat, maybe you’ll get a little bummed (I don’t, I just really like it. Who doesn’t get a thrill out of “and the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they’d made … and the sign said “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls”?). Peter Paul and Mary’s “500 Miles” bums Handsome out in 10 seconds flat while I adore it, but even they are better known for “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

Different people react to music … well, differently. I will sit around and listen to Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” and John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” ’til the cows come home, but Handsome prefers “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (I prefer the Sara Barielles version). Tim says that no one “can growl through breakfast” while listening to “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” (190) and I beg to differ. Songs written by Martin Luther I find I particularly annoying.

So yeah … I didn’t think my opinion of Tim could get any lower, but it did. Because presenting factual (and racist!) inaccuracies about the global history of music cannot be forgiven.

Social Issues, Theology

"How to Win Over Depression" review: 137-159

Books like this make it almost impossible for me to believe that there’s any meaningful difference between fundamentalism and more mainstream evangelicalism. Theologically there’s no real difference that I’ve ever been able to find, and all the differences I can find are surface trappings. In my view, fundamentalism and evangelicalism are on a sliding scale of how much modern culture they’re willing to adapt; fundamentalists are just stuck in the 60s while evangelicals are stuck in the 90s.

None of that really matters, though, when people like Tim quote from Bill Gothard for five pages and describe him as “phenomenally successful” (141) and “wise” (148). And yes, I mean that Bill Gothard. The man who’s been accused by several dozen women and minors of sexually harassing or sexually assaulting them, the man who is responsible for teachings like “the sin of bitterness is worse than the sin of rape.” Tim raves about him and spends most of this chapter regurgitating information found in Bill’s “basic seminars.”

Another observation: so far, in each of the books I’ve reviewed (with the exception of Zimzum of Love), there comes a part when the white supremacy and classism of many American Christians becomes blindingly apparent. The classism comes screaming out of this chapter:

She always looks her best wherever she goes; she is not overdressed but extremely attractive. She chooses her clothes and accessories with care and and exudes the confidence that always exemplifies a dynamic Christian. (139)

A porter will approach an individual and address him politely and with dignity, whereas he will speak to another with quiet disrespect. Through these contrasting treatments, I have judged that the man who exudes self-confidence and self-acceptance is extended respect by others. You can observe similar episodes in a restaurant as the waiter approaches his customers. (140)

After twenty-five years of dealing with people I do not find that vocational triumphs provide lasting self-acceptance. Instead, many individuals would willingly relinquish the fortune earned during their lifetime if the could reclaim the failure experienced … (143)

There is nothing new about ghettos; we have always had them. They are simply larger today because of our increased population and more conspicuous because of recent national attention. (146)

He connects success and self-confidence to wealth and power over and over again, and because Tim is a financially successful white man, he’s able to ignore the role that economic disparity plays in how people are treated by society.

Example:  a friend an I walked into a West Elm a little while ago, spiffed up a bit for a trip into the city. We walked around the store, looking for something she needed and if were weren’t completely ignored by the staff, we were openly sneered at. A few minutes after we entered, a pair of women walked in who reeked of money. The employees fawned all over them. They walked out without buying anything, while my friend bought what she’d been looking for.

Ordinarily I’m a self-confident person, but it’s extremely difficult for me to portray that when I’m in a place that’s only supposed to be accessed by the wealthy. Recently I was able to score a deal for a super swanky hotel, but checking in made me feel like an imposter. There’s always a part of me that thinks they’re going to know I’m not wealthy, that I don’t belong, and they’re going to call security to throw the riffraff out.

I’d also like to point out that we made the ghettos. They didn’t just appear; they’re not just a normal, if unfortunate, part of our capitalistic society. Our economic policies made them.


This chapter is titled “Depression and Your Self-Image,” and while there are some basic things I could agree with him about the general population (negative self-talk is a thing, and we should learn to stop that), he tries to take things that can be true of mentally healthy people and apply them to people who are struggling with worthlessness and/or intrusive thoughts.

His solution also has a two-fold problem. While he seemingly spends most of this chapter preaching the benefits of incubating a positive self-image and learning self-acceptance, he asserts repeatedly that self-acceptance is only possible through religion. He doesn’t actually want people to love themselves, he wants them to feel validated by his version of Jesus. People who get all their feelings of value, love, and acceptance through their religion are not actually practicing self-acceptance.

This could be extremely dangerous for a depressed person. If they accept Tim’s idea– “I will feel worthwhile and loved if I become a Christian!”– they could very well accept Tim’s version of Christianity, which is extremely focused on deciding who’s “in” and who’s “out.” A depressed person trying to feel validated by their faith could end up with a religion-induced sense of scrupulosity.

The other half of the problem is what Tim teaches about human nature:

[A doctor] went on to explain that during his internship in a mental institution, he found that “ninety-five percent of the patients were there because of religiously induced guilt complexes.”

“Doctor, you couldn’t be more in error,” I [said], “People feel guilty because they are guilty!”

To a depressed person, this sentence says all those feelings you have about being a disgusting, worthless, vile, waste of human trash? Well, they’re right! You are a vile waste of human trash! That is not something a depressed person needs “confirmed” for them. Our brains are already screaming that.

Tim tries to mitigate the damaging effects of this concept by talking about how “forgiveness” is readily available to anyone who asks. Sure, we might be nothing more than waste, but God is oh-so-ready to forgive us for being worthless wretches! And once we’re forgiven, Jesus will love us, and we’ll have the magical ability to pray and imagine our depression away!

This is one of the reasons why I disagree with the idea of Imputed Sin. I’ll have to write a whole post out explaining my reasoning for that, but for today, I think it’s enough to stress that this doctrine is inherently harmful, especially to those of us who struggle with depression or other illnesses that try to convince us that we’re useless and worthless.


Final count of examples involving women: 9 out of 12. He describes several of these women as “frigid” (one because she was married to a verbal abuser, although of course he doesn’t say that), and in one case he says that a woman’s trichotillomania was caused by vanity.

Also, I noticed something interesting in this chapter: when talking about how silly depression is, he almost exclusively uses examples of women, but when he starts talking about what a “godly” and “mature” person looks like, he switches to using exclusively male pronouns. Just … an observation.

Feminism, Theology

"How to Win Over Depression" review: 113-136

For new readers: this post is part of a regular blog feature, where I read through influential books on Christian living. The beginning of the series covering Tim LaHaye’s How to Win Over Depression is here; you can also read through my series on Helen Andelin’s Fascinating Womanhood, John and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating, Mark and Grace Driscoll’s Real Marriage, and Rob and Kristin Bell’s Zimzum of Love.


These two chapters were repetitive, so I’m going to do my best not to rehash things I’ve already commented on. A few things jumped out to me on this reading of “How to Overcome Self-Pity,” especially one thing in particular:

Facing self-pity as a sin is the initial step toward victory over this cruel slave-driver … instead of commiserating with yourself and blaming other people for the insult, injury, rejection, or tragedy, face self-pity squarely as a giant mental sin that will destroy you. (114)

I’ve mentioned before that when Tim is talking about “self-pity” he uses very similar language as when evangelicals start talking about “bitterness,” and this passage is a good example of that. In recent conversations about the Duggars, many people have pointed out that any “counseling” Josh’s victims received would have been accompanied with a heavy dose of the sin of bitterness is worse than his attacking you– after all, bitterness damages your soul and mind. Anyone who thinks that thought only exists in Christian fundamentalism need to look no farther than this book, which is about as mainstream evangelicalism as you can get. I mean, Nicolas Cage starred in a movie based on Tim LaHaye’s books.

The most frustrating thing is that Tim never comes right out and says what he means. He talks about “injury” and “tragedy,” and those words cover up a multitude of horrific nightmares the likes of which he will probably never experience. Tim would look Josh’s victims in the face and tell them that they need to “confess the sin of self-pity” for the lingering affects of severe childhood trauma. He would, all while never once acknowledge exactly what the “tragedy” actually is.

However, he has to breeze over exactly what the “tragedies” are that befall people, because the crux of his advice in “Depression and Your Mind” is to “forget those things which are behind.” It’s a lot easier to leave behind some nebulous “tragedy” than it is to forget the fact that you’ve been raped over and over again.

Interesting fact: I followed that advice doggedly. I wholeheartedly threw myself into forgetting that I’d ever been abused or raped. I did it, rather successfully, for four years. And then I started having night terrors and panic attacks. It wasn’t until I was able to process what I’d been through, to name it for exactly what it was and to start talking through it, that the night terrors and the panic attacks started to subside. “Forget those things which are behind” flies in the face of what we know about how to heal from trauma.

One hilarious thing in the chapter “How to Overcome Self-Pity” is when Tim references a story about Moses, found in Number 11.

During the course of his prayer, which began in anger and progressed in self-pity, Moses became so depressed that he actually asked God to let him die. Poor Moses! Resenting the clamor of the people and his leadership, he disregarded God’s supernatural supply of his needs.

Specifically, Tim has “Numbers 11:11-15” as the citation for this story. Here’s what God does in verses 16-17:

The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.

If “self-pity” is what Tim thinks Moses was experiencing in verses 11-15, and “self-pity” is a sin, then what in the world is God doing responding to this prayer with “you’re right, you’ve got too much on your plate, let me help you out”?

Just an idle question.

Chapter ten, “Depression and Your Mind,” can be summed up thusly: Tim thinks all we need to do is imagine our depression away. We just have to constantly tell ourselves that God loves us and BAM! depression cured (129). It’s also a quick summary of everything else he’s said so far, so we can just move on with our lives for the day.

Although, of the six examples he includes this chapter, four are about women, and involve 1) obesity, 2) weeping, 3) menstruation, and 4) menopause. Because of course.


"How to Win Over Depression" review: 88-112

In the two chapters I’m going over today– “The Place of Anger in Depression” and “Self-Pity and Depression”– Tim makes an argument based on commonly held attitudes among evangelicals and fundamentalists. As I’ve talked about in the past, the common understanding in Tim’s circles is that there are “good” emotions and “bad” emotions– and the “bad” ones are sinful. In my experience, there are two emotions in particular that seem to be universally reviled in evangelicalism: anger and self-pity. He is building on that assumption, relying on a typical evangelical’s willingness to accept the claim that all anger and all self-pity is sin. That claim becomes the foundation of his argument that all depression comes from sin, because he believes that everyone who becomes depressed were angry and self-pitying first:

A number of individuals with whom I have shared this [claim that all depressed persons are angry] have challenged me, but on further questioning and closer examination, we established the problem [of anger] without exception. (88)

At last we have come to the primary cause of depression … Of one thing I am certain: if the mental thinking patterns of self-pity is not arrested, the person is hopeless. (97-98)

Tim also does something else: he makes his argument unfalsifiable.

I have repeatedly noted that non-depressed people seem to accept this diagnosis [of self-pity] easily. Even individuals usually prone to depression, when not depressed, seldom argue. It is the depressed themselves who seem to rebel against it. (97)

And with that one sentence Tim does what Christians have been doing for millennia: he sets up his argument with the claim that anyone arguing against him proves him right. If I were to approach Tim with mountains of research and personal stories of how depression and self-pity aren’t automatically connected, he would dismiss me outright with “of course you would say that: you’re depressed.”

It amuses (and infuriates) me how people like Tim claim to take the Bible so seriously and yet are completely willing to ignore anything that doesn’t support the argument of the moment. For one thing, Tim says that anger is always sinful (93), and he quotes Ephesians 4:30-32 to support that, arguing that those verses teach that anger always “grieves the Holy Spirit” (92). Except it’s bitterly ironic that he passed over verse 26 to get to there. In case you need a reminder, Ephesians 4:26 says “Be angry and sin not.” That does seem to imply that it’s at least possible to be angry without sinning.

The fact that the rest of the passage includes things like “wrath” when God themself is often described as “wrathful” punches gigantic holes in Tim’s argument, but he desperately needs Christians to skip over the parts of the Bible that don’t agree with him; without that, he can’t rhetorically link anger and sin with depression.

But all of the above isn’t even my biggest problem with this chapter. My biggest problem is that he is incredibly formulaic in his approach to this problem (93-96), and in order to be this reductionist he has to but on blinders as big as barns. People are not formulaic. Problems like depression and mental health aren’t formulaic and simple (an argument he anticipates on 98, calling it an “excuse of the intellectual”).

There are many things that I am angry about. Some of the anger is appropriate, some of it misdirected, and it’s my job as a human being to wrestle with that. Anger isn’t always the correct response, but sometimes it is. Sometimes there are money-changers in the temple. One of the things that I am angry about is the fact that there is so much abuse and violence in the world, and I am utterly confident in the assertion that abuse and oppression make God angry, too.


Hopefully I’ve already established why linking depression with self-pity is wrong– and hopefully that’s obvious as the noses on our collective faces. However, Tim doesn’t even have a consistent definition of what he considers to be self-pity. To most of us, when we hear “self-pity,” we think of someone who sees themselves strictly as the victim of other people or of circumstance and absolutely refuses to take any steps whatsoever that could help improve their life or emotional well-being.

That is Reason #1 that “self-pity” doesn’t fit as a description for people who are depressed: we rarely see ourselves that way. If anything, it’s the exact opposite; the bone-deep conviction that we are worthless tells us on the daily that we are the ones responsible for everything being so miserable– not other people, and not circumstance.

However, Tim only works with that definition half the time. The rest of the time he confuses it with things like entitlement:

One brilliant but depressed scholar I know holds a Ph.D. and has developed a world-renowned reputation. He had as a young man offered great promise and was expected by those in his field to excel. Having a problem marriage, he drifted into serious patterns of hostility toward his wife. These, in turn, caused him to indulge in the habit of self-pity, which demotivated him. After years of such thinking, he came in for counseling. Having written few articles and never finishing a book, this brilliant man had wasted the creativity potential of a lifetime. Naturally he blamed his wife instead of himself. “If it hadn’t been for that woman, I could have realized my potential.” (102)

On the surface, this seems to fit “self-pity”– the man in this story blames his wife for his failures. However, that’s because Tim doesn’t acknowledge the realities of abuse or abusers, and he skips right over the red flags. I believe that this man had a huge entitlement complex– he believed he deserved to have everything he wanted, and like every other abuser on the planet felt entitled in his relationship with his wife. When his wife turned out to be a human being, he resented her for not living up to his expectations. She was supposed to help him be this accomplished scholar– she didn’t, so it’s all her fault.

The fact that Tim never once acknowledges that abuse can play a part in causing depression crops up over and over again. He tells a story of a young woman who wanted to be a virgin when she got married, but had sex with her husband before their wedding. Tim had this to say:

Self-justification is a natural defense mechanism against self-condemnation, of course, so it was easier to blame him than share the responsibility. Before long her hostility produced self-pity, and finally she became depressed. (103)

If you’ve been around here for long, you should recognize what’s happening there. A woman came to him angry and upset that she and her husband had sex– “blaming” him for taking her virginity. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for a woman to willingly consent to sex and then be upset about it later, but those women don’t usually refuse to acknowledge their part in it. Considering that this was the 60s, I’d bet the moon that this young woman experienced some form of sexual coercion– and it’s possible she was raped.

Later on we get this:

One depressed woman spent most of her time in the counseling room dissecting her husband … Knowing the counselee’s husband as I did, fully aware that he was surly, inconsiderate and unkind … I proceeded to explain that the greater her problem, the greater her grace … Instantly the woman snapped, “I’d rather have a kind husband than the grace!” (106)

Her husband wasn’t even kind. That is basic introductory-level human decency, but Tim doesn’t even address the reality that her husband is an jerk, but instead insists that God will use his behavior to “instruct” her.

The reason why Tim can’t address or acknowledge abuse as a cause for depression is that he knows that it would make his theory monstrous. Saying that we need to “count it all joy” and that “trials” are the way we “grow up spiritually and emotionally” (106) turns into something horrific when you say it to a child that’s had bones broken by their father or a woman raped by her husband. “You need to count your rape for all joy because that’s how you’ll mature” is a horrific nightmare of an argument, and he knows it.


"How to Win Over Depression" review: 49-87

Before we really get into it, I would like to do a brief compare and contrast between what the medical community says and what Tim says about the possible causes for depression.

This list is collated from the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health, and WebMD:

  1. Genetics/biology/brain chemistry/hormones
  2. Abuse or trauma
  3. Some medications
  4. Major events (death, birth, unemployment …)
  5. Substance abuse
  6. Serious illness

This is the list Tim gives us:

  1. Disappointment
  2. Lack of self-esteem
  3. Discontentment and envy
  4. Apathy
  5. Serious illness
  6. Biology
  7. Having a baby
  8. Being a workaholic
  9. Rejection
  10. Inadequate life goals

I don’t think I need to point out to you the reasons why these differences are significant.

What I would like to do now is highlight some of the claims that Tim makes in this chapter about these supposed “causes.” He’s building up to what he feels is a critical point, that all depression is a “spiritual” problem and is thus a “sin” problem. He does this by beating the crap out of his reader in sections like this:

One of the most common sources of disappointment in life is people … If love for ourselves is greater than love of the individual who insults us, we will take offense, become displeased, and progress quickly along the road to discouragement– the first stage of depression. If the hurt or insult is contemplated and nursed long enough, it will produce vexation and ultimately despair.

If you grew up in an environment remotely like what I did, you’ll recognize this: it’s a reprimand against bitterness. Tim spends two pages (49-50) arguing that the leading cause for depression is selfishness and bitterness. Depressed people, he says, are primarily people who got insulted and refused to let go of it. We refused to forgive. So we got depressed.

He doesn’t specifically address people who are refusing to “let go” of the “insult” of being abused. Yet.

Buried in the middle of cause No. 4 is “feminism”:

The modern emphasis on women’s lib and careerism for women will seriously compound this problem [of feeling “trapped in housework]. When I asked one woman, “What do you do?” she replied rather sadly, “Oh, I’m just a housewife and mother!” With this attitude growing rapidly today, we can expect depression to increase … Faulty mental values inevitably lead to depression.

With one of those “faulty mental values” being “feminism.” I’m not going to sit here and ignore all the times that some feminists have made women who choose unemployment feel inadequate and devalued for making that decision (a choice, I should note, that is only possible for middle-class families). However, this is a book written in 1974, when pretty much all of American culture expected women to deal with a horrific amount of nonsense. I’ve seen Mad Men.

Also, this statement reminded me very strongly of Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ claim that feminism leads to depression (well, they used the term “soul sickness” and said that feminism is “the way of death”), a claim they made in 2013.

Here’s a few more ways that Tim bludgeons his readers so he can later convince them that their depression is a sin:

If, for example, ample time for [the new mother’s] vitality and energy to return has passed but her depression has not departed, she is probably indulging self-pitying thoughts. (56)

One self-pitying woman used to wail, “I have nothing to look forward to.” Obviously she was spending too much time thinking about herself. (58)

Right. That’s the reason. Not biological or hormonal factors. Or maybe because she’s telling the truth about not having anything to look forward to. It’s because she’s throwing a big fat pity party and she just needs to get over herself. That last one is especially infuriating because I often feel that way, and it’s a big confusing jumble because I simultaneously love and hate my life.

Reasons why I love my life:

I have an awesome community of people who love me.
My job is fulfilling.
I live on the beach.
My life with my partner is incredible.
Comic books.
Good food.
My cat adores me.

Reasons why I hate my life and have nothing to look forward to:

I. Cannot. Sit. Down. Because of a tailbone.
I will always and forever be in pain. Always. Forever.
I will have excruciating periods until menopause, which doesn’t seem much better.
I will never be able to eat apple pie.
I am a rape victim and my rapist will likely never see a day in prison.
For good measure, most rapists will never face justice.
I will probably struggle with anxiety and depression for the rest of my life.
I have to go outside and that consistently means being screamed at.
My brain, because of a lifetime of abuse, is pretty broken.

If Tim ever dared to look me in the eye and tell me that I’m a “self-pitying woman” who thinks about herself too much, I will … Well. I’d probably do something violent.


The chapter “is there a cure for depression” doesn’t need that much breaking down. He spends pages 60-71 misrepresenting therapy and medication, telling us a bunch of horror stories and ripping the words of psychiatrists out of context (Dr. Mortimer Ostow said that medication and therapy have to work together in order to truly help depressed patients, but Tim makes him say that medication is useless and terrifying on page 62).

He even conflates all depression medication with amphetamines and “diet pills” (in case you’re curious, yes that was a woman used in another example). I’m not a drug expert, but even the briefest and most cursory glance at Google told me this isn’t true– and wasn’t true in the 70s. The horror story he gives about therapy is about a woman who was– according to him– somehow forced into have sex with four different men and getting pregnant (70).

The rest of the chapter– 71-87– is a “Gospel” presentation. He says that depression “emanates from the God-vacuum within them” (79) and that no unbeliever can experience “abiding joy or have power to control those weaker parts of his nature” (80). Y’know, because depression only happens in weak people. The bulk of his argument is devoted to the “God-vacuum” and the “God-void” but which is more commonly known in evangelical parlance as “The God-Shaped Hole.”

I don’t have to break this down for you, because these people already have:

Atheism and Yearning by Greta Christina
When Beliefs are Too Big to Fail by Neil Carter

Tim uses that “God-shaped-hole” theory to argue that “Until an individual has access to the spiritual resources … he is incapable of coping with these primary causes of depression.” That argument should horrify and disgust us, but to people like Tim, it makes a certain sort of elegant and simple sense. He believes that depression– which he unfailingly describes as self-pity or bitterness- is a sin. Sin can only be solved, redeemed, “fixed” by Jesus. Therefore, the only way to treat depression is to become a Christian.

And book goes flying: #2.


"How to Win Over Depression" review: 28-48

Last week I spent a good bit of time talking about how Tim doesn’t understand the symptoms of depression and what those symptoms can look like; this week it becomes blindingly obvious why Tim so deeply and fundamentally doesn’t understand depression. In his chapter “The Symptoms of Depression” he makes it very clear that he has a mental picture of the ideal depressed person. All of his descriptions of the various symptoms point to the common cultural understanding of how a depressed person behaves and what they look like.

We sit in corners, preferably with our arms wrapped around our legs and our head on our knees. Perhaps we even clutch our head. We mope. We cry. We rarely (or never) smile or laugh. We are exhausted all of the time. We never eat. We always look slovenly, unkempt, untidy, unhygienic.

That image is due to our culture taking the symptoms of depression– apathy, lethargy, sleep disturbances– and running with it in a direction that doesn’t make sense to every person. And yes, sometimes those descriptions can look and feel true for those of us who have depression. However, for many of us who have learned to cope with it in some ways, or who can put up the effort on occasion, we simply don’t look or act like that. I don’t walk around crying all of the time, although there are some days where that’s all I can do. Sometimes I don’t change out of my pajamas, but sometimes I dress up enough to look cute and I do my hair and put on a little makeup. In my experience, the outward manifestations of depression are just not that consistent.

But that’s not even the worst part of this chapter. That comes here:

Loss of Affection– This almost universal tendency of depressed people to withdraw from others is a result of their loss of affection. It begins with a lessening of their love for their spouse or children and grows until they really do not care about themselves, about others or about anything. This is a most harmful emotional state, induced by a faulty thinking pattern of self-occupation. Unless it is changed the depression will increase. Someone has cautioned, “Love or perish.” Unless you love others and yourself, you will destroy yourself.

Book goes flying: #1.

I started shouting and stomping all over my house. I had to stop to go clean something I was so furious, and Elsa sat on her cat tree and looked at me funny. I can’t even with this. Of all the reckless, irresponsible, ignorant, hateful, disgusting descriptions of what depressed people go through… just. No. Hell no. I do not love my partner or my family or my friends less because I am depressed and why on God’s good green earth do I have to even write that sentence Jiminy Christmas.

The apathy makes it harder to care about things, yes– in the sense that I have almost zero motivation some days to even drag myself out of bed. But apathy is not the same thing as the love I have for Handsome evaporating into some nebulous void. Even on my worst days I still love him. It’s really hard to show it, to make myself perform the actions that typically show someone you love them, but it’s not because I don’t love him and Tim can take that ridiculous notion and put it where the sun don’t shine.

And for the love of sweet baby Jesus does depression not ever have anything to do with “self-occupation.” That statement right there shows that Tim doesn’t know anything about depression, has never even bothered listening to the words coming out of our mouths. We are consumed by feelings of worthlessness, and the darkest times are completely other-obsessed. The lies that come in those time are all about how the people in my life that I’m letting down and failing, that their life would be better without me in it.

Describing the thoughts of worthlessness and apathy as “self-occupation” is the most unloving, ungracious, uncharitable thing I’ve ever heard.


Chapter Four, “The Cycles of Depression,” wasn’t as infuriating as Three, but it is frustrating because Tim spends the entire chapter pretty much conflating stress and depression. Also he mixes up “the emotional low/release following a period of high stress or emotion,” like what can happen to teenagers after graduation or me after my senior piano recital, with serious depression.

Also this chapter should have been titled “What Tim Thinks Depression Looks Like in Different Age Groups,” because it’s split up under different the headers “The ____ Decade of Life,” starting with the first and ending with the eight because Tim thinks that if you live until you’re 90 it’s because you’re not the sort of person who gets depressed. To which I say: my great-grandfather was in his mid-90s when he died and he was pretty depressed for the last few decades of his life.

Tim doesn’t have much compassion or love for depressed people, and this chapter makes it obvious. People who have “won” over depression are those who have learned to “account for their moods,” and “do not let them upset them” (35). People who simply whistle and sing can’t get depressed because whistling means that we’re “refusing to express depression” (36). Depressed people don’t have discipline integrity, responsibility (37). We do things (like masturbate) that make us feel guilty, and feeling guilty leads to depression (38). Women who avoid having sex because it hurts are “building up fear” that can destroy her marriage and thus lead to depression (39). Women who don’t “spruce themselves up” aren’t investing in our “self-worth” and that can lead to depression (40). Women struggling with empty nests who don’t “get involved in helping other people” will be depressed (43). Women who are “expecting to go to pieces” as we age can “be sure [we] will” (45). Spouses who are grieving their loved one’s death are “indulging in self-pity” (and yes, the example he gives is of a woman who dies shortly after her husband) (47).

In short, according to Tim, people are depressed because:

We give in to depression.
We refuse to use simple coping mechanisms like whistling.
We don’t have integrity.
We are sinning.
We give in to fear.
We don’t help other people.
We grieve too much.

We’re probably a woman.

What do any of these things have to do with suffering with severe depression? Oh, right. Nothing.

Also: could use some help from my lovely readers. I read an article recently that mentioned there was a study that people with depression actually tend to be the most empathetic and caring because we understand deep emotional pain and want to help other people. I can’t find it, but if you know the one I’m talking about that would be incredibly helpful. I don’t like making claims like that without citations, but it was an intriguing argument and I’d like other people to see it.


"How to Win Over Depression" review: 1-27

Before I get to what Tim had to say in the first two chapters, I want to begin by making sure we’re all on the same page, especially since Tim is going to confuse this issue in very serious ways.

First, there are different kinds of depression. There’s major or clinical depression (which can also be chronic,) mild depression, seasonal affective disorder, and the depression that is a part if bipoloar disorder (as well as others). Tim doesn’t distinguish between any of these, and his reasoning for why he mixes all of these up will become clear once we’re further into the book. However, the book focuses on helping people who have major or clinical depression– but then confuses that with mild, temporary, situational depression.

Second, these are the symptoms that doctors look for in order to diagnose major depression:

    • difficulty concentrating, sometimes referred to as a “brain fog”
    • feeling worthless, guilty (I refer to this using Captain Awkward’s term “JerkBrain“)
    • hopelessness
    • sleep disturbances (insomnia and/or oversleeping)
    • irritability
    • disinterest in things previously considered enjoyable
    • appetite changes
    • persistent pain, headaches, cramps …
    • persistent sadness
    • suicidal ideation

However, the only “symptom” that Tim gives any credence to in “The Problem of Depression” is unhappiness. He references several ancient writers who describe things like the disinterest and the feelings of worthlessness, but then spends the rest of the chapter talking about how depression is “universal,” (19) that “everyone will be depressed at some point,” and that our society is “starved for happiness” (20).

This is one of the ways that he conflates serious depression with “a general feeling of being sad and unhappy,” which is infuriating and wrong. Yes, everyone at some point in their lives is going to feel sad for a stretch. Life is full of pain and bad things happen to everyone, and we’re going to feel unhappy about it. That is obvious. That, however is not what major depression is.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who “feel blue sometimes,” but then they are able to snap out of it. Frequently these people say things to me like “just find something you love to do!” or “stop that negative self-talk!” and think that’s all it takes. It becomes obvious fairly quickly that these people have never dealt with paralyzing apathy or JerkBrain. When Handsome asks me a question like “what do you want to do?” it takes a serious amount of effort for me to respond with something besides I don’t care. I have spent many, many days over the last few months staring at a spot on the wall for hours, unable to care about anything enough to drag myself off the sofa.

Then there’s JerkBrain, which is a constant voice in the back of my head that I wish I could shut up, and it is different from negative self-talk. I can control the negative self-talk. I can keep myself from fixating on my cellulite and love handles, I can stop myself when I start thinking things like “I’ll never be as good a writer as so-and-so!” However, none of that changes the overriding belief that I am worthless, and the constant, unending feelings of guilt. My brains’ automatic reaction to all conflict is you are a horrible, disgusting waste of a human being. You are nothing. You deserve nothing.

But Tim is one of those people who think I can just change the way my brain thinks (27) and then I’ll be happy. Right.

Moving on to chapter two, where Tim describes some of the different ways depression manifests itself. Before he gets into that, though, he links having depression to emotional immaturity. He blames people who have depression partly on parents who didn’t let their children cry it out (22-23). He describes it as a form of teaching infants and toddlers to emotionally “walk,” because apparently he knows absolutely nothing about developmental psychology.

But, moving on: he says that people with depression are “exhibitionists”– according to him, we struggle with our depression by throwing an extended temper tantrum (24). This apparently takes many forms, including vandalism, but he then goes on to spend a significant amount of time talking about he can tell how depressed a woman is by how short her skirt is (hint: if she’s wearing a mini skirt, she’s sooooo depressed) Also, he says things like “Studies have indicated” without citing a single one, and that “promiscuous” and “oversexed” women aren’t really interested in sex at all– they just feel insecure. Men aren’t promiscuous or oversexed, though– they have “sexual conquests.”

Another way depressed people can act is by being “clingy.” He gives six examples, five of which he genders as female: talking on the phone too much, continuing to nurture children after her own children have grown, being an ambitious hostess, buying love, or exaggerating illness for attention. The one male example: being a workaholic.

There’s no misogyny here, y’all. Not even a little bit.

My reaction to this description was what in the world is he talking about? The human race is pretty diverse so I’m positive that at some point some depressed person has done one of these things, but I’ve been depressed off and on my whole life and when I’m depressed “let’s throw a huge party!” would never cross my mind in a million years. Neither would talking to anyone for extended periods. Or trying to get attention through faking illness. Those could be unhealthy behaviors depending on why you feel the need to do them (seriously, what is wrong with throwing big parties or enjoying long conversations?), but none of these things are symptoms of depression, or even typical of depressed people.

update 4/22/15: I didn’t realize this was going to be a problem, but I have received multiple comments like this since I posted this on Monday. If you’ve never commented before, I will not publish comments on this series that tell me and my readers about some “cure” for depression. You can share your experiences, but don’t come here promoting some “method” or “system” when you’ve never participated before.


Introduction to the Review Series: "How to Win Over Depression"

The poll I put up last week had Francine River’s Redeeming Love and Tim LaHaye’s How to Win Over Depression neck-and-neck almost the entire time. At the very end Redeeming Love won out by a few votes, but I’d already decided to work on Tim’s book instead. Also, I’m reading through Why Does He Do That? by Bancroft in preparation for another series I’ll be doing sometime soon, and I don’t think I can handle reading about Michael Hosea being both an abuser and a rapist in the context of a book that glorifies it.

The copy of Tim’s book that I have is the original edition published in 1974. There’s an updated and revised edition he put out in 1996, but I’ve seen a copy of the book and the changes seem to be unsubstantial– for example, in the opening illustration the woman is “attractive” and in her mid-thirties in the 1974 version, but both descriptors are removed in the 1996 edition. For this reason I’m going to be paying less attention to the specific language he uses (which he may have changed) and focus more on the big-picture problems.

How to Win Over Depression has been an extremely influential book in conservative Christian circles– in some cases, this book or books like it are the only education a pastor receives about depression, and since it echoes the common cultural myths about mental illness it’s received as reliable information.

For a glimpse of how people typically respond:

I read this book years ago and it was the key to winning over depression. Excellent book. Since then I have bought several to give to others to help them learn how to manage depression and conquer it. It’s an awesome teaching and I recommend it to everyone. [from Christian Book, September 2008]

When I picked this book up at a library, I figured it would be like all the other unhelpful books on depression I had read. However, the book was amazing! This book literally changed my life! I had been suffering from depression for 6 years and tried therapy, hypnosis, anti-depressants and had a struggling relationship with the Lord … The book opened my eyes to that fact that my self-pity was a sin and the root of my depression. The book showed me how to beat the depression by giving me details on how to change my thinking. I have been relatively depression free since reading this book. Try reading this book, it might change your life too! [from Amazon, February 2000]

This book really ministered to me when I was in the depths of my depression. I even bought a few to give away. Looking through the book now, I really wish I had taken it more seriously and heeded the advice in it sooner. My only complaint is I didn’t really care for the chapter that lists common cures for depression, such as antidepressants because it needs to be updated and reiterated that abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit is the only true cure for depression. [from Goodreads, March 2008]

After experiencing depression for over 20 years, I was given a copy of this book by my pastor. One reading is all it took to cure me of depression. I’ve gone through many tough times since reading it and though I have been down at times, I have never experienced depression. Faith in God and the Bible were the keys for me as well as the great writing skills and wisdom of Tim LaHaye. If you believe it, you’ll live it. [from Barnes & Noble, July 2003]

Negative reviews exist, although I think it’s important to note that most of those reviews seem to come from non-Christians who are primarily reacting to the “Christian” views– it was unusual for someone to criticize the ideas he presents, shrugging them off as being “not for them.” This is one of the reasons why I think it’s important for someone like me to critique this book– I’m a Christian, and capable of separating out the parts of this book that are truly Christlike and the things that are a result of Tim’s … misunderstandings.

It’s about 240 pages long and split into 20 segments, so I’m going to do my best to cover two chapters each week, since I’m not super interested in spending half of this year on it. We’ll see how it goes, though. I might need to step away from it some weeks, and I’ll do my best to put up a review of a book I think y’all should read (for example, Rachel Held Evans’ new book, Searching for Sunday, comes out next Tuesday and it’s definitely her best book yet– and I’m going to put of a review of it next week so you know exactly how awesome it is).

Anyway, so why did I pick Tim’s book over some of the others I could have chosen? Well, first … I already owned it (it was one of the “oh, you should totally review this on your blog!” gifts) so I didn’t need to give anyone more money. Second, Tim LaHaye is an important figure in conservative Christian culture. He co-wrote the Left Behind books which made so much money Nicolas Cage himself starred in a film adaptation of them (in my opinion, he should have just stuck with Knowing as his apocalyptic movie). Tim’s also written a bunch of other self-help and Christian-life-advice style books which were also successful in Christian circles.

Here’s to wishing us all luck and endurance. As always, if you’d like to read along and have a book-club-style discussion in the comments, that would be fantastic. Multiple points of view always help.