Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Embracing the Darkness:
How a Jewish sixties Berkeley Radical Learned to Live with Depression, God’s Way

The insights presented within this book, sharpened by decades of depression, desperation and doubt, penetrate far deeper into the essence of faith, growth, and therapy than other similar works while retaining a thoroughly Biblical orientation. Daniel demonstrates how depression became a portal through which to perceive how faith and understanding impact joy, assurance, self-acceptance and intimacy with God.

God is the healer, and faith in His Son is the key! The way we think impacts who we are and how we experience life. This truth is particularly transformational because how we think about God will also determine how we feel about God and our sense of assurance and intimacy with Him. The question of depression, despair and anxiety rests squarely upon this faith issue.

Daniel Mann writes:

Depression had been nipping at my heals as far back as I could remember. I didn’t have a clue about countering it. The various therapies, religions, and lifestyles I resorted to proved little better than quicksand. The more I struggled, the deeper I sank.

I tried to outrun it. In 1970, I left the USA to roam around Europe and the Middle East, always on the move, sleeping in barn and field, anywhere I could find relief.

In 1976, I came to a final way-station that promised ultimate relief, the Messiah. I had an initial “honeymoon” period. I saw and experienced things I couldn’t deny. Nevertheless, depression again blindsided me with another unwelcome visitor--panic attacks. The faith that I thought would weather the storm ran away terrified. The God that I had thought I had come to know, if He indeed existed, didn’t respond to my flimsy and desperate cries for help. Perhaps He did exist, but He just didn’t like me enough. In any event, I found myself devastated for the next several years.

I continued to pray and to seek God for answers, not because I believed that He would eventually answer me, but because I had no other place to turn. I had tried everything else! I didn’t really trust God anymore, but I trusted Him more than anything else.

I was convinced that if Christianity was the truth and Christ died for my sins, I shouldn’t be feeling the way I was. If He loved me, He would answer my prayers. There was no reason why I should be more dysfunctional and suicidal than those who didn’t even have a faith in Christ. Surely, my experience had to disqualify Christianity, but Christ remained my only hope.

I now look back over my years of depression in a way I never thought I’d be able. I never thought I’d be able to honestly thank God for the pain. However, it’s been through the pain and utter despair that He’s taught me so much. I’m reminded of Paul’s cry of anguish: “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9).

Through the ordeal, my Savior has indeed become dear to me in a way that couldn’t have been otherwise. It’s through the ordeal that I’ve come to love Him as He is and to even accept myself despite my many imperfections. My weaknesses serve as a token of His undying love. They remind me of the extent of His love and tender care of this life.

This book started as a course at the New York School of the Bible entitled, “Biblical Principles for Handling Depression and Despair.” It then became a Seminar “Blooming in the Valley” which has been presented at prisons and churches. One prisoner wrote, “This Seminar beats any anti-depressant I’ve ever had.” A pastor wrote that “he had been thinking of giving up both life and ministry before attending the Seminar. “

The book is divided into two major sections. The first deals with the content of the Seminar, along with additional autobiographical material which illuminates my many embarrassing missteps. The final several chapters critique secular counseling. An addendum provides additional autobiographical material for those so interested.

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