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Originally published August 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 18, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Culture Corner | Faith-focused media picks

Book "The Water Will Hold You" Lindsey Crittenden (Harmony Books, 232 pages, $22) Can prayer cure clinical depression? According to Lindsey Crittenden's...

Book

"The Water Will Hold You"

Lindsey Crittenden (Harmony Books, 232 pages, $22)

Can prayer cure clinical depression? According to Lindsey Crittenden's thoughtful memoir, the answer is yes and no.

Nearly paralyzed by the death of her beloved younger brother, Crittenden stumbles into an Episcopal church in Berkeley, Calif., and tells the priest of her misery. Long a skeptic, she resists following his advice: Reach out to God for help with a simple prayer. But as she prays "I am here; you are here" to no particular deity, she begins to relax and eventually feel the cloud of depression lift.

By giving up her will and recognizing that the ritual of prayer will support her just as the water did when she was learning to swim, she turns toward health. Therapy and antidepressants help her live; prayer and the rituals of the church help her thrive.

But clinical depression is a wily foe.

She falls in love, learns the man's a cad, then sinks into a worse trough of depression. Medication and therapy help restore her ability to function. Again she undergirds her life with prayer.

The book is also a moving family story. The lives of Crittenden's parents and a younger brother are blighted by hidden mental illness and addiction. She supports her parents as they age and die, and chooses to adopt her brother's son.

The skeptic who learned to pray finds, finally, that God helps those who help themselves.

WEB SITE

jwablog.jwa.org

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JWA stands for Jewish Women's Archive and for Jewesses With Attitude.

This blog is a project of the women's group, written by young Jewish women willing to share their opinions on pop culture, art, current events and their religion. A recent post explores women wearing kippahs (or yarmulkes, the small, round head coverings more often seen on Jewish men). Another analyzes similarities between a quinceañera and a bat mitzvah.

The writers don't shy from revealing their feminist, progressive views, and they invite readers to share opinions on controversial topics including the HPV vaccine, same-sex marriage and "mommy wars."

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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