Religious Melancholy – also known as Scrupulosity and related to Perfectionism and hyper-Calvinism, the obsessive belief that no matter how hard you struggle, you will never measure up to what God says and so sink into despair. One sufferer was George Beecher, the minister brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. A pastor in Rochester, NY at the heart of the Burned Over district, scene of repeated religious revivals, in 1843 he walked into his garden to shoot some birds and was found dead of a gunshot wound. The Beechers insisted it to be an accident. Not so Julius Rubin – Religious Melancholy and Protestant Experience in America. He calls it suicide.
All of which makes me stop and ponder the current state of the human spirit around me…LGBT, addicted…anybody different. In the current epidemic of young LGBT suicide, in particular trans youth, are we repeating history? Rushing headlong back into a new Burned Over district, a new Perfectionism which sees no evidence of God’s inclusive grace? Is this what the TX Board of Education is aiming for with the replacement of Jefferson with John Calvin in school curriculum? How many hundreds of years does it take for western civilization, Christian or otherwise, to move past the personal destruction created by divine standards imposed by mistaken people on others which are impossible to attain?