Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience, by Anton T. Boisen, #12


Our Ordained Chaplains scripture verse for today is Lamentations 3:32 which reads, “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from John MacArthur. He said, “Remember that even Jesus’ most scathing denunciation – a blistering diatribe against the religious leaders of Jerusalem in Matthew 23 – ends with Christ weeping over Jerusalem. Compassion colored everything He did.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “In the Old Home” (Part 2):

Lizzie came of a family of slaves who had been freed before the Civil War, Their presence in Bloomington was due to the Covenanter sympathy with the Negroes and she herself was a devout member of the Old Side Covenanter Church on South Walnut Street. She was a student of the stars, a study to which my grandfather had introduced her. She knew all the principal constellations and all the brighter stars, and no comet ever escaped her attention. A finer spirit there never was. We all looked upon her as one of the family*

Looking back over this period, the picture of my grandfather occupies always an important place. In the earlier years I see him at his desk upstairs, toiling over the history of the University, which, with a small honorarium, had been assigned to him in
lieu of a pension. He was slightly below average in height, brisk in his movements, always neatly dressed, to the end of his days relying upon his Philadelphia tailor for his clothing. He was an orderly person, keeping his papers neatly filed and his books carefully arranged. He would sometimes get mildly irritated if I misplaced his woodworking or drawing instruments, but he encouraged me to use them, and he was never too busy to help me with a problem in mathematics or a passage in Latin. I do not remember at any time any disagreements between him and my grandmother. She ran the household, and he did not interfere. But he was its head. We all recognized that.

My schooling, as may be inferred, was considerably delayed. I had been held back by reason of the transfer from Lawrenceville, and I was still further delayed because of an injury to my left eye, which occurred shortly before my eighth birthday in 1884.

I can remember quite well how it happened. At dinner that day the conversation had turned to the reaction of winking. My grandfather spoke of its protective function, and I left the table, curious about it all, and went to the front yard. There I began to swing on a gate underneath a large pear tree full of ripening pears. Two boys came along and demanded some pears. I refused. Thereupon one of them aimed a toy gun at me, one of the type that carried a rubber contraption on a wooden stock. Half curiously, half defiantly, I resolved not to wink. He banged away, and I was struck by an iron nail directly in the pupil of the eye. The eyelid was not touched.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 3 of “In the Old Home.”

Questions