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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Whites Coats, White Robes

Christianity and Western (allopathic) medicine are deeply appealing for the same reason: They promise simple solutions. Accept Christ as your savior and you will be helped through this life and accepted into heaven. Take this bread and eat it, for this is my Body...Take this pill and eat it so that you will be cured, perhaps of all your problems, ever. The cleanness of these systems is attractive; it whispers freedom from curses and goblins and reincarnation, headaches and sorrow and injuries. It calls like a crisp bed inviting rest. I fear, however, that I am messy, and that, to live and heal, I need to sing praises to multiple gods for multiple lifetimes, and to boil up huge pots of strange-smelling herbs.

8 Comments:

Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Having utilized both Chinese herbs and, say, antibiotics, I think the difference is that the messiness of the Western pills is just hidden. All treatments have side effects. When they're desireable, we market the drugs as Viagra. The chinese medicine, though, is the worst-tasting stuff I've ever ingested and not spit back out.

But your larger point is an interesting one: We like simple solutions, especially ones that do not require, say, thought or engagement with our selves.

10:43 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I agree that the messiness of Western meds is just hidden...and I would say the same is true for Christianity, though after 2005 years of Christian history, we can see more of it.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Well, I prefer the simple, or seemingly-simple, solutions, because "the world is so big and the sky is filled with stars"--that is, I'm busy, spiritually and intellectually and physically and creatively and temporally. I would never turn down medication that helped me to feel better just because it was simple. I'm terribly grateful for amitriptyline, for example, because I just don't have the time to figure out and control headaches on my own. If somebody else has done all the hard work to come up with simple solutions, I'll take advantage of it.

Christianity in and of itself is in no way simple, but people tend to strip all the complexity out of it by making it into a list: get baptized, attend First Communion, go to Mass, take the Eucharist, get Confirmed, pray, confess. There's also a simple way to practice Buddhism (meditate) and Judaism (follow all the rituals); there's a simple way to organize your life, and lose weight, and find love. You can follow all the directions you want, but they're only superficial; you have to get some (most, I'd argue) things on your own. This is exactly why diets don't work.

But hey, if your spiritual needs are satisfied by an hour at Mass every week, that's great. (If you intend to voice opinions that are based on your religion, however, I damn well expect you to have thought about it.)

1:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Oh, for God's sake. That totally wasn't my fault. I hate Blogger.

3:03 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I tried to make your extra comments go away, but the delete fxn ddn't work. Oh well. There are worse things. :)

Point taken about Christianity and our medicine not being that simple, but I stand by my earlier post, which deeply relates to some personal issues I've been grappling with the last few weeks. I suppose the thing is really this: the way Christianity and medicine are presented allows--one might say encourages--the user to give control of body and soul to doctors or Jesus/clergy.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Indeed. It's all about marketing. (Schools should teach kids how to recognize an ad when they see one...)

2:41 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

yes, it's about the marketing, but it's also about "we know what's best for you and you don't know your own self-interest; just let us do the work for you". But it doesn't really work that way, does it.

11:58 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

extra comments all gone!

11:59 PM  

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