Faith Matters

Cancer and depression sees bishop opens up about 'the mess of life'

WHEN he was confronted with the double blow of a cancer diagnosis and mental ill health, Alan Abernethy, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor found himself re-examining the basics of his faith.

The fruit of his struggles with depression and prostate cancer is a deeply personal book, The Jewel in the Mess.

In it, he writes of how his years in Church leadership caused him to lose sight of the original awe that called him to his faith.

Bishop Abernethy brings us on his journey of returning to the idea of God without the trappings of Church institutions and hierarchy, and how he refocused on the figure of Jesus at the heart of the Bible.

Through his struggle with depression and his diagnosis with prostate cancer, Bishop Abernethy has come to find the message of Jesus in the difficult, dark and chaotic parts of life.

"It is becoming more and more obvious to me, and, I believe to others, that the message that the church must rediscover today is that we are rooted in a faith that has as its core belief that Jesus came into the mess of the world, and by his presence blessed so many and disturbed others," he writes.

The book, he says, is a call to bless the mess of the everyday world.

The Jewel in the Mess, by Alan Abernethy, is published by Columba at £10.99, www.columbabooks.com

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