Sunday, March 22, 2020

And it's Sunday again

Seems that everybody is consumed by the latest news on the novel corona virus. But there was some other stuff that happened last week, too. For example, the Museum of the Bible announced that their Dead Sea Scrolls fragments are fakes. Chris Rollston, epigrapher extraordinaire, read a paper, saying among other things,
I shall be fairly forthright here. Here is a profile of the forger: I believe that the forger of these Dead Sea Scrolls forged fragments is a trained scholar in our field, with access to actual ancient scrolls. I believe that the forger forged them during the course of a few months, or more likely, a couple years (this also accounts for some of the variation in the script). I believe that venality (indeed, outright and blatant greed) is a primary motivation (literally, netting the forger millions of dollars for these Museum of the Bible forgeries), but greed is not the only motivation. I believe the scholar of these forgeries is particularly hubristic, and assumed he (or she) could fool all other scholars (and also probably delighted in this assumption). I do not think that these were forged as some sort of a joke (as was the case in the Coleman-Norton forgery and in the case of the Hebron Philistine Documents). Clearly, I believe that the forger is amoral. Also, I believe that the forger worked primarily alone, but could have included a paid friend or associate who had at least a high-school level knowledge of chemistry (these forgeries are not sophisticated enough to have included the assistance of a trained scholar in chemistry).
Sobering, isn't it? Wouldn't be the first time that's been true. Meanwhile, Sidnie White Crawford, who has probably spent more time among the physical scrolls than just about anyone alive, chimed in with her paper. Her conclusion? Yep, they're fakes.

In other non-COVID-19 posts, Roger Olson asks whether God can change. Read it.

And Scot McKnight discusses retirement—or why to delay it. Personally, I plan on working full-time until I'm at least 70 and continuing to copyedit stuff on a 20–30 hour/week basis as long as I'm mentally able.

Shift gears a bit here, as Philip Jenkins looks at martyrdom in the 20th century. Good stuff there; read it.

OK, the rest is pretty much COVID-19, so if you are sick of it, stop reading. But before you do, check out Bob on Books post about the difference between physical distancing and social distancing. Read it. He ends with this sobering paragraph:

None of our countries will be the same when this ends. David Brooks observed that after the 1918 flu pandemic, people avoided talking about it “because they were ashamed of how they behaved.” This pandemic could rend the fabric of our society even worse than it has been in recent years. Or it could re-focus us on what is important–the ways in which we are mutually dependent upon each other and every human being is of value. Are we going to hoard toilet paper and ammo, or invest in strengthening our social connections? While we practice physical distancing, will we focus on our social connectedness? You and I will make decisions in these next days and weeks that not only affect the health of millions but the fabric of our society. How will you choose?
Yep. A crisis reveals who you are. Don't like what you see in yourself during this time? Remember that's who you were all along and submit it to God and let him change you as you humbly allow him to. That's pretty much what Stephen McAlpine is saying, too, only much better than I can. Here's a snippet, but read it all:
But I check that larder just in case. How much flour is in there? Way more than I’ve ever had there before. If Elisha the prophet came to our place and offered us flour and oil until the virus is over I’d be like “No thanks, we’ve got this.”

Which is part of our problem. We’re so damned – and I mean that word – self sufficient. We’ve always got this.

Here are a few posts with some good pastoral advice: David Fitch on the power of a small group:
Could it be that God has given us this time to force us to discover again the power of presence in a group of fewer than ten people? To learn how to be present in the smallest of ways in our neighborhoods, even if they have to become virtual by necessity? As we sit, eat, listen, dialogue, testify, and pray, will we see space opened for the working of God’s Spirit in this land? Will we engage, pray for, and help neighbors during this time? Will we see an outpouring of God’s Spirit in this time of crisis?
Mike Glenn on how a punch in the face (like this pandemic) tends to show how your planning is, well, insufficient. After some very good advice, he sums it up with this:
The other major change is communities are watching to see how churches respond to their communities. Those who minister well during these challenges will be “validated” by their communities and new doors of evangelism and ministry will open in the future. Seeing the love of Christ lived out in real and life impacting ways will never be forgotten by our neighbors.
Yep. It shows what's really in us. That's the problem, as is our herd instinct, so says Benjamin Corey, in a post aptly entitled "Group-Panic is a Faster Moving & Far More Dangerous Virus than Corona." Good insights.

Carmen Imes wrote a post on liminal states, a good anthropological term that describes where we are. Allow this liminal state to be used by God to mold us, as they apparently did in a plague during the 1500s. Steve Perisho has the details. While the Anxious Bench looks at the history of Psalm 91 and death. Good stuff.

For those interested in the medical side of the virus, check out this pair of Atlantic articles: An interview with Francis Collins, director of the NIH and a devout Christian, and this, on how the virus as a virus operates. And Emily Landon, the chief infectious disease epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine, gives some straight talk. Read all three.

What about the economic implications? Nobody really knows, but this article compares it to other recessions/depressions, and comes to the conclusion that

The markets are not normal, either. The stock market lost 20 percent of its value in just 21 days—the fastest and sharpest bear market on record, faster than 1929, faster than 1987, 10 times faster than 2007. The financial system has required no less than seven emergency interventions by the Federal Reserve in the past week. The country’s central bank has wrenched interest rates to zero, started buying more than half a trillion dollars of financial assets, and opened up special facilities to inject liquidity into the financial system.

Yet in the real economy, everything has halted, frozen in place. This is not a recession. It is an ice age.

OK, I can't leave you in a depressed state with all this, so take a look at a humorous version of Teaching Online:
Due to concerns about COVID-19, our university recently gave me three hours to move our entire class online for the next three to sixteen weeks. I am providing these instructions for a seamless, uninterrupted course experience. I have never taught online before, but with the help of our men’s field hockey coach turned online-learning coordinator, I have developed a virtual experience that matches the intimacy and rigor we cultivated in our Philosophy of Face-to-Face Discourse In the Public Square class.
It devolves from there, but hopefully got a laugh from you, if only because it is far too accurate.


No comments: