According to my mother, there are two unique forms of grief that everyone touched by war understands. There’s the grief associated with the loss of human life—through bombings and brutal combat, and through the disease that runs rampant when health care and all other social services are halted.
Jelani Cobb has written, for The New Yorker, that the Reverend Dr. William Barber is a man “driven by a fugitive hope that an ancestral breach might finally be cemented,” and is “charismatic, tireless, eloquent” in his ongoing civil-rights work.
Churches are usually packed this week, the holiest on the Christian calendar. But this year, with very few exceptions, they are empty. And not just in America. In Jerusalem’s Old City, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a major pilgrimage center for Christians all over the world, was closed.
Passover is about how a people who stay steadfast in hope can be liberated as a community from Mitzrayim, “a narrow place.” Easter is the death of one paradigm and the rising of another. Ramadan commemorates the end of jahiliyya, “the period of darkness,” which is vanquished in the emerging light of the Quran.
When Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” he clearly didn’t foresee the coronavirus. But one complication of the virus, and the social distancing necessary to slow its spread, is a nation where quiet rooms are more common.
Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father.
David Platt is the lead pastor of McLean Bible Church in metropolitan Washington, D.C. Before covid-19, I would speak every Sunday before thousands of people gathered for church from across the Washington, D.C., area. Now the scene is vastly different.
Churches across America have managed to get around bans on public gathering by moving their worship services online, but technology provides only partial solutions. In addition to presiding at services, religious leaders are expected to provide counseling, lead prayer groups and minister personally to people with special needs.
Turning outward to one another as the coronavirus locks us down. Many years ago, there was a debate at my rural church about whether the pastor needed a cellular telephone for his ministry. They were expensive, so, of course, the argument was partly about whether paying for one was a responsible use of parish funds.