Blue Monday - the most depressing day of the year
Apparently, today is 'Blue Monday'. The most wonderful time of the year has given way to the most depressing day of the year (according to a YouGov survey). It's certainly a very depressing day for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, though this has nothing to do with Christmas, unless Lord Rennard was 'active' at LibDem festive bashes, too. The Mental Health Foundation has calculated the formula establishing the 'Blue Monday' phenomenon as:
where weather = W, debt = d, time since Christmas = T, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions =Q, low motivational levels = M, and the feeling of a need to take action = Na. 'D' is not defined, nor are units of measurement.
The Church of England has helpfully produced a healing antidote video (above) to counteract the doldrums, but His Grace isn't at all sure of its efficacy: the musac alone is sufficient to drive one to the dentist's waiting room. Do they assume that those who watch this are uplifted by Richard Clayderman shopping-mall pap?
And the message? Well, if you wade through the gloomy weather, credit card bills, pay-it-forward and the Polish psychologist Andrew Bienkowski, it is essentially "May you be blessed this Blue Monday, and always. After all we have breath; we have life; we have shelter. We are here."
The name of Jesus is mentioned nowhere: just an oblique allusion to "the God (or god?) who became flesh and dwelt among us." Did He not have a name? Are they ashamed of it? And apparently this unnamed God (or god) came not to save us from our sin, but as someone to help us "enter life more fully; to embrace it; to make the most of it."
This isn't even milk: it is watery brain science video-therapy: a Christian reflection devoid of Christ and Scripture. A quotation from the Psalmist rather than a psychologist would have been preferable. Invocation of CS Lewis (Surprised by Joy) or a few thoughts from Pope Tawadros II (suffering 'real-blues' persecution) would have put a few credit card bills and weight-gain into perspective.
Now, His Grace isn't one for cramming Christ into every utterance or insisting that the Bible is the only source of wisdom: He is far more missiologically attuned and culturally sensitised than that. He agrees that you should indeed #countyourblessings (today's Twitter hashtag), including your family, friends, health and wealth (the CofE press release doesn't mention wealth). But it is well known that 'Blue Monday' is Sky Travel marketing pseudoscience, so quite why the Church of England has invested(?) funds in this project is something of a mystery.
The Bishop of Chelmsford the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell clearly knows this. He says: "It's no surprise to find that 'Blue Monday' originated as a piece of PR puff and this is reinforced by the poll results. Happiness comes when we stop living our lives just for ourselves. The importance of family and partners highlights that when we are loved and show love it begins to make a difference to how we live and how we view the world. No wonder that the Christian faith places the self-giving love of Jesus at its heart. God can always provide affirmation even when the still important human affirmation lets us down."
At least the Bishop mentions Jesus.
But it is curious that the Church of England can produce something so crass one day, and something quite brilliant the next. This is currently displayed on the London Underground:
Plastic Jesus? It's catchy, memorable, almost indelible. In that succinct phrase lies a dozen sermons challenging preconception, and in the tacky visual the trigger to thousands of commuter reflections on idolatry and triviality.
The video carries the imprimatur of the Archbishops' Council: the poster that of the Euston Church. The objectives of the former are somewhat diffuse; those of the latter are rather more succinct: "to know Jesus Christ and we long to make Him known".
Is this not evidence that mission is most effective when it is inspired and devised by passionate individuals operating in a local context, rather than by a broad committee seeking to inculcate an entire nation with a vague sense of spiritual consciousness?