Lutheran Catechetical Society – Speaking on October 10 in Normal, Illinois


The Lutheran Catechetical Society has invited me to come and speak on the topic of  (you guessed it!) Lutherans and depression.  It is being held at Christ Lutheran Church in Normal, Illinois.  HERE is a link to the google map of the same.  And HERE is a link to the Facebook event.

So I am driving from Grace, Columbus, IN over to Normal, Illinois, for this gig.  If you are in the Normal-Bloombington area, I would urge you to join us!  I am told that they will also be offering a video recording of this event.

A Lutheran View of Depression (Columbus, Indiana)


Grace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Indiana, has graciously invited me to come and speak the weekend of October 9 & 10.  I will be speaking on Saturday evening, and then preaching and leading bible class on Sunday morning.  If any of you are in the area, I would love to see you!  I will be posting on another speaking event that I have in central Illinois here in a moment.

If you would like to find out more, check out the event page for this on Facebook.

Pastor Todd Peperkorn


Through a series of peculiar events, I am serving as a delegate to the 2010 LCMS Convention in Houston, Texas.  You may follow my general thoughts about it here.  One event today kind of served as a trigger for me that I thought would be worth reflection upon here.

Since my illness, I have been less comfortable around large crowds, loud noises, and kind of close in, packed situations.  Tonight I had opportunity to go to an awesome baseball game where the Cardinals whooped the Astros 8-0.  (GO CARDS!)  The game was good.  It was fun.  I love baseball and so much about it and the culture which surrounds it.  But at the end of the game when we were getting up to leave, the people around us looked at us funny.  I couldn’t figure out why no one was getting up.  The game was over, and the home team got trounced.  Don’t these people ever leave?

It turns out that this Friday they were have a fireworks display after the game.

Now those of you who have been reading this for a while might remember that fireworks are one of those triggers for me.  You can read more about it here.  So when I heard that they were having fireworks, it was as if 15000 people all sorta crowded in around me asking, “So, Todd, are you going to stay?”  I kinda freaked out, and left rather abruptly.

I’m fine.  Just so we’re clear.

This little mini-event reminded me of how certain things can serve as triggers.  Sights, sounds, smells.  There are some things that I haven’t been able to really enjoy since I was on disability, because I associate them with my illness.  Golf and woodworking both come to mind.

I think all of us have these events or things that trigger certain memories or feelings.  What are yours?  How do you address them?  Do they derail you, or is it just a passing feeling that improves over time?

A part of what helps me in these situations is being able to externalize them.  If I can recognize what is going on, that allows me to maintain a modicum of control and perspective on the whole matter.  For those of you who are into E.Q. type stuff, this would fall under self-awareness.  This process has allowed me to move forward through such events and not allow them to paralyze me.

What think ye?  Is this common or a peculiar Peperkornism?




Recommended Reading List on Depression

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Concordia Deaconess Conference on the topic of depression and how to care for those suffering from mental illnesses of various types.  Below is the reading list I prepared for this wonderful group of ladies.  If I have missed anything that you might consider important, please let me know!  I’d love to revise and update it along the way here.  Thanks!  -DMR

Bibliography for Deaconess Conf

Recommended Reading List on Depression

On Depression

Greene-McCreight, Kathryn. Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006.

Hart, Archibald D. Unmasking Male Depression. Thomas Nelson, 2001.

Karp, David A. Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness. Oxford University Press, USA, 1997.

Peperkorn, Todd A.  I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. St. Louis: LCMS World Relief and Human Care, 2009.

Rogers, Matt. Losing God: Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression. IVP Books, 2008.

Solomon, Andrew. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. Scribner, 2002.

Stryker, William.  Visible Darkness: A Memoir of Madness.  New York: Random House, 1990.

For the Families of Loved Ones

Karp, David A. The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope With Mental Illness. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.

On the Theology of the Cross

Floysvik, Ingvar. When God Becomes My Enemy: The Theology of the Complaint Psalms. Concordia College, 1997.

Forde, Gerhard O., and Martin Luther. On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Theology). Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

Lewis, C.S.  A Grief Observed.  San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1961, 2001.

Schulz, Gregory.  The Problem of Suffering: A Father’s Thoughts on the Suffering, Dead, and Life of His Children.  Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1996.

On Pastoral Care

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Spiritual Care. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1985.

Eyer, Richard C. Pastoral Care Under the Cross: God in the Midst of Suffering. Concordia Publishing House, 1995.

Eyer, Richard C. They Will See His Face: Worship and Healing. Concordia Publishing House, 2002.

Kleinig, John W. Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today. Concordia Publishing House, 2008.

On Pastoral Burnout

Hoge, Dean R., and Jacqueline E. Wenger. Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry (Pulpit and Pew Series). Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005.

Preus, Robert D. “Clergy Mental Health and the Doctrine of Justification.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 48, no. 2 & 3 (1984): 113-23.

Prayer and Devotional Works

Bansemer, Richard. Forced to Pray: God’s Chosen Under Pressure. New York: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2008.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1974.

Burke, William.  Protect Us From All Anxiety: Meditations for the Depressed.  Chicago: ACTA Publications, 1998.

Deffner, Donald L. Prayers for People Under Pressure. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1992.

Gerhard, Johann. Meditations on Divine Mercy: A Classic Treasury of Devotional Prayers. Concordia Publishing House, 2003.

Kinnamon, Scot, ed.  Treasury of Daily Prayer.  St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2008.

Lewis, C.S. Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book). Harvest Books, 1964.

Luther, Martin. Reading the Psalms with Luther. Concordia Publishing House, 2007.

Lutheran Book of Prayer. Rev. ed. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

Lutheran Service Book. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.

Reardon, Patrick Henry. Christ in the Psalms. Conciliar Press, 2000.

Steinmann, Andrew E. Is God Listening: Making Prayer A Part of Your Life. Concordia Publishing House, 2004.

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist, 2010
Concordia Deaconess Conference
Concordia University Chicago, June 23-26, 2010

Presentation on Depression for CDC

Below is a PDF file of the slideshow from the Deaconess Conference, as well as a QuickTime movie of the same.  I have not posted the actual slideshow file, since I will probably use portions of it in the future.  If for some reason you would like access to the actual Keynote or PowerPoint file, please contact me via email or telephone. Thanks! -DMR

Presentation on Depression for CDC

Presentation of Slides in QuickTime for CDC

[quicktime width=”500″ height=”400″][/quicktime]

Concordia Deaconess Conference presentation


This coming week I will be speaking to the Concordia Deaconess Conference about the topic of depression and mental illness.  I’ll have about four hours with these fine ladies, and I am really looking forward to the opportunity.

My plan right now is to divide the presentation into two parts.  The first part will be on living with depression.  This section will be an overview of the book, and trying to provide some insight into the mind of the depressed and/or mentally ill.  The second part will be on how to serve those who suffer with depression and/or mental illnesses of various types, and how to serve their families.

So my question for you today is this: if you had this opportunity, what would you want to teach about and why?  How do you see the role of deaconesses and others in your congregations when it comes to serving those in need, especially with mental illnesses?  Do they have a place?  What is the place?  Are they better suited to serve the family, or the person directly?  I have my own ideas on these subjects, but I would love to hear yours as well.




The dog days of depression

We recently bought a dog.  He is a Bernese Mountain Dog.  His name is Sebastian Augustus:



Yes, he’s crazy cute.  Yes, we have an over-the-top approach to names.  Ask our children about that when they’re adults!  And yes, he will be a lot of work, cost money, etc., etc., etc.  I know.  Believe me I know.  We got him because we’ve always wanted a dog, because the kids wanted a dog, and because the timing and the price was right.

I have to admit, however, that I was a little taken aback by one of the side benefits of getting a dog.  I’ve read elsewhere that having an animal call help with depression.  Perhaps you’ve heard of service animals, that go into nursing homes or hospitals to help cheer up the sick.  I am beginning to wonder if we shouldn’t create a category of service animals for the clinically depressed.

What I have found thus far is that owning an animal has filled a niche that I didn’t know existed.  A dog just wants to be with you, loves unconditionally, and (despite some occasional poop) is generally pretty easy to care for.  I expect that will change somewhat as he gets bigger.  But right now, I’m enjoying things for what they are.  He’s helped me exercise, spend less time on the computer (always a good thing in my case), and has really lifted my mood in a very different way than all of my usual tricks.

So am I crazy?  How has your animal helped you?  How might this fit into a treatment plan for helping the clinically depressed?


The sadness at Valparaiso

Chaplain’s death at Valpo ruled a suicide

My heart goes out to the students and community at Valparaiso University right now. Here’s the opening paragraph from the above article:

Pastor Darlene Grega, a chaplain at Valparaiso University, apparently died from suicide this week, according to a spokeswoman for the coroner’s office in Porter County, Ind.

I have written and posted about pastors and suicide any number of times around here. I myself had a pretty harrowing Good Friday four years ago when I moved from the if to the when stage. Suicide is the unspoken companion for anyone who suffers from depression, especially chronic depression. It is the silent partner, the knock at the door, and the shadow that seems to darken everything.

I doubt we’ll ever know the demons that Darlene fought as she tried to serve the people of Valpo. I never met her, so I have no personal take on that. But suffice it to say that God does not abandon His children in their darkest hour.

Here is a sermon I preached at a suicide about five years ago.

God’s peace be with all those who grieve at Darlene’s death. May yours tears come to an end and the hope of the resurrection draw you into Him.

+God be with you+

[Full disclaimer: I am opposed to women’s ordination. That does not mitigate the tragedy of this event, and now is NOT the time to have that discussion.]

Opinions solicited on the podcast



So I’ve done 13 trial episodes of a podcast on depression and faith. You can check them out HERE or go back and look at past posts of DMR.

I am now at a crossroads of needing to decide whether this is worth the time and effort etc. to make this happen.

I don’t have any really good way to get a sense of how many people are listening to this program. So I need your opinion. Do you listen to this, would you listen to it, and do you have any other suggestions on what would be helpful?

The podcast is about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes long. I haven’t solicited radio placement for it anywhere, although if there’s interest I may explore Pirate Christian Radio a little more.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments or email me directly. Thanks very much.


A Lutheran View of Depression