The Aquinas Center of Theology at Candler will host its annual Aquinas Day lecture on Thursday, January 27. Held around the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the event is intended to feature the research of younger theologians and expand the future of theological thinking. This year’s lecture will be presented by author and scholar Jessica Coblentz, assistant professor of religious studies and theology at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
Coblentz will also serve as guest preacher for Aquinas Day worship, which will be held 11:30 a.m. EST. Her lecture will follow as a Zoom Webinar from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Coblentz will speak on “Depression as a Wilderness Experience: Exploring One Theological Paradigm for Life with Depression.” Her new book, Dust in the Blood: A Theology of Life with Depression (Liturgical Press), will be published on January 15.
The book, and Coblentz’s talk at Candler, could not come at a more relevant time, says Assistant Professor of Catholic Studies Susan Reynolds.
“Two years into a pandemic, in this time of unyielding anxiety and desolation, Dr. Coblentz’s work is as urgent as it is profound,” Reynolds says. “So often, theological discussions of mental health end up spiritualizing people’s real suffering or blaming those who suffer. Rejecting these harmful approaches, Dr. Coblentz helps us to understand what it means to live with depression in light of the Christian theological tradition. I truly can’t think of a more fitting Aquinas Day speaker for the moment we are in.”
Coblentz earned her MTS from Harvard Divinity School and her PhD from Boston College. Her area of focus is Catholic systematic theology, feminist theologies, and mental health from a theological perspective.
Depression, like other forms of suffering, frequently engenders disorientation and difficult questions: What is happening? Why is this happening? And what is one to do amid such pain? Depression sufferers and those who accompany them sometimes turn to faith communities for answers, and though some find solace in the theological and practical responses they receive, others, including many Christians, are left searching. In this lecture, Coblentz will introduce one such resource—an understanding of depression as a wilderness experience—and explore its implications for Christian interpretations of and responses to life with depression.