The Anatomy Of Melancholy: Episode 21

This version is captioned, a non-captioned version can be found here.

This episode is a fantastic time capsule. It takes us back to a time when we might consider approaching a wizard for their advice with out troubles, of course this is discouraged in The Anatomy Of Melancholy. In fact, as the author is a protestant minister, even praying to Saints is discouraged as folly followed by the ‘papists’ – Jesus Christ is after all our ‘one mediator and advocate’ with God the Father.

Intriguingly at this time there was still an argument to be had as to whether it was heretical to go to a doctor for help. Does approaching a human to cure you betray your lacking of faith in God to sort you out? Perhaps his plan is for you to be ill and you would be undoing this plan by getting yourself cured, who knows? Robert Burton reassures us that so long as we use both strategies in tandem we are probably not going to go far wrong. He continues to explain that medicine can’t be an abomination as Jesus used dirt and spit when healing a blind man, which, though not entirely hygienic, does count as medicine.

Of course debates between faith and the medical intervention are still active. We argue about medical intervention in the inception, extension and termination of life human. We fret about the power of modern genetics to alter future generations and an individual’s religious faith may still prevent them from agreeing to treatments such as blood transfusions and organ transplants. There doesn’t seem to be a great resurgence of Wizards offering advice, but that may just be a question of definition, who else will recommend you use ‘healing crystals’ or ‘reiki stones’?

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