Went to a talk by Dorothy Rowe, the psychologist last night, on religion and death, and fascinating stuff it was.
She mentioned at one stage the difference in types of depression suffered by catholics and protestants. Catholics, she said, tended to see themselves as isolated, and a godlike hand would swoop down and deliver them away from everything they knew into a darkness. Protestants, on the other hand, especially those of the Calvinist bent, tended to suffer from the effects of the cold, judgemental conscience, alway baying at them, telling them that however much they try, they are not good enough.
Exactly. I've never endured depression, for which I am thankful, but I know if I did it would be that latter one I would suffer. That hideous, judgemental Calvinist coldness, that essential statement that you are a failure and no matter how much you try you will be found wanting: it is the most depressing thing imaginable, and I am grateful that, as an atheist, I have been able to shake it off. But not completely. You can't. It's in there, it always will be. It is so ingrained in your early education, your upbringing, your whole social surroundings. It is a repulsive thing, relying on fear and intimidation and blind obedience.