The Human Condition Isn’t A Disease

Ethan Richardson riffs on Marilynne Robinson’s essay from The Death of Adam, “Facing Reality,” a meditation on modern anxiety and the insights of traditional religion:

Robinson thinks…we have lost what the Bible calls “sin.” If every malady can be answered with a palliative, we have lost the depth and seriousness of our condition. By “medicalizing” a condition, we distance ourselves from the meaning of our suffering, as well as any real responsibility we might have in the matter. We do not feel the inner-pangs of Eden–we cotton them off with smaller doses of smaller problems. This makes us all the more anxious. I am reminded here of John Jeremiah Sullivan‘s phrase in his Michael Jackson essay, that we are inheritors of the “pathology of pathologization.” We, the Knowers, must call our sin small, long Latin names, and seek meliorative means to soothe the twitch. As Robinson says, we do need medicine for our anxiety–but we need more. “It may be necessary to offer ourselves palliatives, but is drastically wrong to offer or to accept a palliative as if it were a cure.”

Recent Dish on Robinson here.