A Horse Named ‘Rona…

I keep seeing things on the internet where people are comparing the Coronavirus to one of the horsemen (pestilence) of the apocalypse. I would like to point out that first and foremost this is a “first world” conceptualization of the Coronavirus. Yes, the virus is terribly contagious and killing a lot of people, but the only reason we are paying attention is that it is now in our own back yard. For years, there has been pestilence in other countries. Chronic malnutrition, starvation, lack of healthcare, and diseases like Ebola have ravaged other countries while those of us in developed nations take our vaccinations and continue on. The only reason that we are comparing this to the end of the world is because it is affecting us on a much more personal level now. We have now had to stay at home for a month now. God forbid, we may run out of episodes of “Tiger King” to watch. Yet in other countries when epidemics happen the outcomes are much more dire. No longer is there an ocean between us and people dying in large numbers. When the challenge is in our own back yard it is hard not to catastrophize about it and so all of the end of the world folks begin to look for signs of the antichrist in their cornflakes and keys that the world is rapidly coming to an end. Some are saying that Jesus is returning soon and that they are waiting on the “rapture.” All of these religious interpretations expose some very real problems within the church. First, the many churches have become nationalistic in nature. This is the very thing that causes us to name our crisis as a “step towards the coming apocalypse,” while seeing crisis in another undeveloped country as “something sad going on overseas.” The element of selfishness and arrogance is pretty astonishing if you think about it. The second thing going on in many churches is a lack of true discipleship. People are not taught how to think for themselves. They go to church Sunday and listen to the preacher and just accept what that person says as the “end all be all.” For those of you that do this, please hear the following statement: Clergy persons are not always right. Let me say it again for those in the back: Clergy persons are not always right. Even in the event that they do accurately interpret a text, the impact an idea has on a person’s life is much more impactful if they play a part in developing the idea. I once heard a person say that just listening to the teachings of others and never studying for yourself is like eating food that someone has already chewed. There is no substitute for self gained knowledge. In this time of crisis, for many, religious institutions are failing them. They are promoting and exacerbating the already ever present anxiety by promoting the notion that the world is in chaos and moving toward the end. The church’s role should be one of comfort. Clergy should be promoting the ideas of working together and supporting one another. We should be helping people recognize that it is not one country over another, but rather that we are all children of God whether we live in America, Iran, Russia, or China. The other thing that should be happening within the church is the creation of a climate where members think for themselves. There should be room for disagreements and for discussion. Tolerance for differing ideas should be present for only by doing so can people arrive at their own meaning related to the circumstances that affect their lives. I will close now with my final thoughts: Jesus is not a nationalist, Clergy are not always right, it is ok to ask questions, it is ok to question dogmatic beliefs, and finally (and perhaps the most important), the Coronavirus is not one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. We will get through this. The end is not here yet…all that being said…you still need to wash your hands. 🙂

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