Sunday, March 29, 2020

Is it Sunday again already?

Seems the only thing in the news is the novel corona virus and related disease, COVID-19. In fact, it's so much in the news, that it is now being referred to as Covid-19, lower case. That type of migration typically takes years, e.g., MODEM becoming Modem, now simply modem (it stands for Modulator-Demodulator), or RADAR to radar (Radio Assisted Detection and Ranging), but I digress.

I've found that the Atlantic seems to have some pretty balanced reporting. Here's a sampling: How the Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe; How the Pandemic Will End (pretty sobering); and The President Is Trapped. And this on BBC is worth the read, too.

And then there are those who look to past plagues, which typically were much worse as far as death tolls go, to see how people responded. Andy LePeau looks at the 165 CE plague; Philip Jenkins relates the story of Eyam, which I had never heard of before. A very nice illustration of sacrificing self-interest for the sake of others.

Which brings us to the most controversial aspect of the pandemic: the economic one. Religion Dispatches' headline, "‘Restart the Economy’ Is a Prayer to a Conservative God Who Demands Human Sacrifice," is chilling, to put it mildly. And The Week's opinion piece, "A pro-lifer shrugs in the face of mass death" is just the tip of the iceberg over Reno's First Things editorial. As Benjamin Corey's blog post says, "It’s Not Pro-Life If You’re Going to Sacrifice the Old Folks."

Roger Olson, though, takes a broader theological approach:

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut famously said “We’re terrible animals. I think that the Earth’s immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should.” (I am not going to get into a debate with anyone here about whether Vonnegut really meant it or what. The statement here stands on its own because I agree with it—unless there is a God or something like God as I will explain.)
He goes on to explain what he means. And Scot McKnight asks "God and the Virus: Do we say God sent the virus?" Ken Schenk takes on the question "Is COVID-19 God's Judgment?" Read it to find out what he says.

Related, but not directly, Roger Olson again. This time he makes an important distinction between "The 'Ultimate' and the 'Penultimate': An Important Distinction in Christian Ethics." Good stuff; read it.

OK, enough of that. If you are still with me, take a look at this piece about the danger of smoothing out the differences in middle America, the "fly-over country" that I call home.

Most of all, pop culture normalizes the region: Think about how differently we would read the myth of Superman if his ship crashed in rural Connecticut, or how Fargo loses its irony (and everything else) if reimagined in Fargo, Arkansas. It must be Kansas that Dorothy returns to, not Schenectady or Dallas.

Anytime a region this large, this diverse, and this hard to define becomes a symbol for a concept that has the combined vagueness and life-regulating power of “normalcy,” it should tell us that we’re in the presence of myth. In its worst form, the association between Midwesternness and normalcy can become a proxy for whiteness, straightness, and/or maleness. There are people in the world who think that our outer-borough, rich-guy, New Yorker president better represents the Midwest than does Ilhan Omar, a Somali immigrant elected in 2018 to the House of Representatives from Minnesota, where she has lived for more than 20 years. This kind of thinking legitimizes prejudice while obscuring the region’s actual demographics, which are all over the place.

Read the rest. Meanwhile, Michael Bird takes on the Biblical Manhood people in his post entitled "Imitation of Christ vs. Gender Roles."

That about does it this week. Be wise, but not fearful. Radiate the love of Christ, not the blaming too often displayed by some in power. This isn't the first, nor is it the worst, pandemic in history. Yes, I know, that doesn't make it any easier, but putting it into perspective can be helpful. Valete!

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