Fie, Anxiety

UPDATE: Welcome, Local Liberty readers (and for the effusive praise posted there: aw, shucks).
In my other life (in which I have a name), I've been toying with a column denouncing "stress" as a sin. It would take a careful definition of what I mean by that, because I don't share the Scientologists' negative view of psychology, and I also know from personal experience that anxiety can take a serious toll on a body. Nonetheless, it seems clear to me from the Gospel that Christ wants us at least to strive to conquer our anxieties. Hence:
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span? . . .So do not worry and say, "What are we to eat?" or "What are we to drink?" or "What are we to wear?" All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides [Mt. 6:27;31ff, and for a larger treatment read 6:24-34].
So Christ does not wish for us to be stressed out, and yet that is a complaint I hear constantly. The height of compassion now is to empathize with another person's stress and maybe I'm just not that nice a person but I am frankly bored to tears with this particular complaint.
For starters, I think we greatly exaggerate our "stress." I think most of us are more "busy" than "stressed." Remember the sword of Damocles? Stress is what you feel when an awful lot is riding on your every move. And who's really that important? George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Khamid Karzai --these people have stress. Lives hang in the balance of their decisions. For most of us, that's not really so --or at least not in such an immediate way. We could even fail to feed our kids for a few days with no lasting harm to them (not that I recommend this). I have an awful lot of work, but really none of it is stressful. Challenging, tiring, annoying. . . .I can think of a lot of better words.
Apparently some study has come out purporting to prove that Americans are more "stressed" today than we were 15 years ago. Our local talk guy was discussing this and one caller said it's because we've become a bunch of weenies who feel we must register our slightest complaints, and though I'm still thinking about it, I have great sympathy with that view.
Anyway, so I'm pondering these things and in case anyone would like to ponder along with, here are a few links related to Hans urs von Balthazar on anxiety. Here's the introduction to the newly released Ignatius Press volume. Von Balthazar says it's important to look at all the forms of anxiety, resisting the temptation to consider only the most obvious form.
Gaining a clear view of divine revelation and giving it a fair hearing will lessen the danger of mistaking a particular, specific form of anxiety, with its specific causes, for the entire phenomenon or even for the most profound element in it, which would restrict the subject from the start. The particular case is the anxiety of modern man in a mechanized world where colossal machinery inexorably swallows up the frail human body and mind only to refashion it into a cog in the machinery–machinery that thus becomes as meaningless as it is all-consuming–the anxiety of man in a civilization that has destroyed all humane sense of proportion and that can no longer keep its own demons at bay. This anxiety underlies almost all modern neuroses–and "modern neurosis" is almost a tautology, inasmuch as there were, strictly speaking, no neuroses in the earlier, humane world (and hence no need for their poisonous antidote, psychotherapy).
Here's a paper given on the subject at the Lateran University on the occasion of the von Balthazar centennial. The author summarizes Balthazar's view: that anxiety originates in The Fall, is experienced by all human persons, was taken on by Christ and is gradually replaced in the Christian with the theological virtues. See? Stress is a sin. . .or at least an absence of perfection.