These are the good times, as our good friends at the Catchup (sic) Advisory Board would say, but I can't help this nagging sense of sadness around the edges--and maybe more nearly in the heart--of things.
My counselor friend, Todd, says I have dysthemia, a recently named emotional condition, a kind of neurosis, actually. The difference between a psychosis and a neurosis is this: whereas psychosis says "two plus two equals Raleigh, NC," neurosis says, "two plus two equals four,but I am not happy about it." Dysthemia, then, manifests itself basically this way: there is no day so bright that I cannot find a dark cloud somewhere on the horizon or over my head.
If I have 150 in worhship, for example, I wonder why it is not 160 or 200 or why the Joneses are not in their usual spot. It all feels personal, too--an intentional slight or insult that God, the universe, my church members are perpetrating on me.
And so I have this article which came out in Christian Century. I am thrilled, right? Except I am worried I will never be published there again, that the people I most want to see that I had an article published in Christian Century did not see it (and why is it considered poor form to send out an announcement?), that there is no link to the article (though there are links to other articles in the issue, dated August 22)...see how it goes?
It is pretty maddening, actually, and not only to me. My wife gets pretty tired of it, all in all. One of my two best friends in ministry (and why do I have only TWO good friends in ministry, his dysthemia asked) is a district superintendent in Georgia, and he gets annoyed too: "If you are not happy NOW, with a book and an article and endorsements by Buechner, Winner, and Long, you will NEVER be happy." I guess he is right, but my publisher misspelled one of the endorsers' names on the inside flyleaf and left off Tom Long's altogether. "I did not really know who he was," the girl at the publisher said, so WHY NOT ASK ME I replied, but only to myself.
Perhaps this is what the Fathers meant by sloth--distraction. Or maybe it is related to despair. Or lust. Or envy. I cannot sort out or untangle all the ways sin is active in my dysthemia and dysfunction, or whether I am guilty or sick, but the effect is the same.
And so now at least five members of the editorial and marketing team of my publisher have jumped ship in the last couple of weeks. I am afraid that my little book with float away with the rest of the flotsam. I need to go to the home office to meet some people, as I now know NO ONE who works there.
My book is coming out! Yeah!!
But there is a depression that comes with it, no extra charge.