Alain deBotton

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This Anglo-Swiss philosopher provided me with the verbal couplet ‘Status Anxiety’ in 2004 with his highly readable book of that name. I reviewed it for Doctrine & Life in the article ‘Is there an Haute-Cuisine Catholicism?

As the term ‘anxiety’ is non-judgemental it is supremely useful in describing our chronic and almost invincible dissatisfaction with our own status as diminutive children of the world and the universe. Julius Caesar’s need to be first was outstanding merely in its intensity, and that need both destabilised the ancient world and set the scene for the arrival of the one who insisted that the first will be last in the Kingdom of God.

Christendom from 313 CE could not critique the Status Anxiety of nominally Christian rulers and their governing elites – with the end result of the climactic scandal of the Great War of 1914-18 and all of the reverberating scandals of church-approved imperialism, not yet complete in their historical impact. When our ego-driven Status Anxiety is finally recognised by most Christians as the main lever of the Adversary of the Trinity, that Kingdom may come – but not, I fear, without more travail.