Luther on Depression

I’m excited about a new book: Of Good Comfort: Martin Luther’s Letters to the Depressed and their Significance for Pastoral Care Today. Martin Luther on Depression! I personally don’t know much about Stephen Pietsch, but what a great idea for a timely book.


Actually, I recently read a blog post about Luther on Depression, too.

According to the blurb going around Facebook, Stephen Pietsch examines 21 of Luther’s “letters of comfort” to explore Luther’s pastoral care for souls suffering with depression. Pietsch uses interdisciplinary tools of inquiry artfully to examine the letters, Luther’s pastoral care approaches and the history of the “melancholy tradition”.

Ok, so pastors, professors, and academics should read it. Theologians, too. What about us writers? Talk about insight into a Lutheran perspective! Insight into heart and soul with application to boot. Whether we write for a character or an audience that suffers under depression, theological resources can be important but rare. I mean, there is this one,* which I recommend, but more are very welcome.

We are writers. We aren’t generally counselors. We shouldn’t pretend to be either. But, if we can help by spreading wisdom and spiritual care from a certain Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, and if we can take what we can learn to help paint things clearer and more comforting for others, all the better!

Luther on Depression: maybe we’ll see more about the perspective of his time and there will be different cultural assumptions and baggage. Or, maybe there will be a sweetness to the Gospel that in our happier moments we’ve forgotten.

Read Luther. Even if, every once in a while, it stirs things up, it can be so rewarding!

Sometimes comfort is a snippet at a time. A scrap of letter. A bumbling paragraph. As writers, let’s try to make it count.



*I do truly recommend Rev. Todd Peperkorn’s booklet, “I Trust When Dark My Road.” He has a website and periodic blog at that also addresses depression, mental illness, theology of the cross, etc.

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