A round, colorful church window

Coronavirus Brings Change, but the Church Brings Hope

Let‚Äôs dis¬≠cuss brieÔ¨āy dis¬≠cuss the no¬≠tion of change. I think the topic is rel¬≠e¬≠vant to our cur¬≠rent cir¬≠cum¬≠stances. After all, since the coro¬≠n¬≠avirus has in¬≠vaded our lives, things haven‚Äôt been the same. And so-called ex¬≠perts have been pre¬≠dict¬≠ing that our lives will likely be al¬≠tered mov¬≠ing for¬≠ward even post COVID-19. The new nor¬≠mal is change‚Äďor is it?

It seems change has al¬≠ways been busy Ô¨āip¬≠ping things up¬≠side down. Looking back, great an¬≠cient thinkers have been grap¬≠pling with how our frag¬≠ile, Ô¨Ā¬≠nite lives Ô¨Āt into what seems an in¬≠Ô¨Ā¬≠nitely long his¬≠tory. From the Greek philoso¬≠pher Heraclitus: ‚ÄúNo man ever steps in the same river twice, for it‚Äôs not the same river and he‚Äôs not the same man.‚ÄĚ According to this phi¬≠los¬≠o¬≠phy, every¬≠thing is al¬≠ways chang¬≠ing, but is this idea en¬≠cour¬≠ag¬≠ing?

Well, ac¬≠cord¬≠ing to our con¬≠ven¬≠tional wis¬≠dom, change is at the very least un¬≠com¬≠fort¬≠able. As is said, life be¬≠gins at the end of your com¬≠fort zone. There‚Äôs some truth to that state¬≠ment, al¬≠though I‚Äôm sure we could come up with a bet¬≠ter Ô¨Ārst cause to life it¬≠self. Nonetheless, by push¬≠ing the lim¬≠its of our con¬≠structs, we do seem to on av¬≠er¬≠age end up with bet¬≠ter out¬≠comes. We make progress, and our cul¬≠ture praises and re¬≠wards progress.

But with progress comes the dooms¬≠day sce¬≠nar¬≠ios. Technology, glob¬≠al¬≠iza¬≠tion, and other har¬≠bin¬≠gers of the 21st cen¬≠tury have brought us a virus that spreads faster than Amazon can ship pack¬≠ages. I know the eco¬≠nomic down¬≠turn‚Äďwith its losses in jobs for many Americans‚Äďhave also purged hope from our lives. Many Millenials were al¬≠ready strug¬≠gling to keep their heads above wa¬≠ter. Other younger Americans are pes¬≠simistic about whether they will ever be able to own a house.[1] Change makes for a dis¬≠tant, in¬≠dif¬≠fer¬≠ent god. Her for¬≠tunes are de¬≠void of hope.

Chart showing why millennials can't own homes. Over 50% of millennials said they couldn't afford the down payment

In an in­creas­ingly sec­u­lar America, hope is poorly de­lin­eated, of­ten left in ab­stract terms about ever more un­cer­tain to­mor­row. I guess we’re all shoot­ing for Mars. Progress must col­o­nize the cos­mos.[2] These utopian vi­sions of hu­man­ity don’t seem to in­ject life-giv­ing en­ergy into our most poor and mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. And they don’t seem to do much bet­ter for every­one else. All you have to do is look at re­cent trends around men­tal health. There seems to be an uptick in de­pres­sion, sui­cides, and just gen­eral sad­ness com­pared to pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions.[3] I am par­tic­u­larly wor­ried about men who at­tempt sui­cide at a rate of about 3.56x that of women.[4]

How can we em¬≠brace change and yet still have hope? Is life noth¬≠ing more than a gi¬≠ant dice role? While so¬≠ci¬≠ety has at¬≠tempted to re¬≠move the di¬≠vine and other tal¬≠is¬≠mans from our daily af¬≠fairs, de¬≠fault¬≠ing to fa¬≠tal¬≠ism is¬≠n‚Äôt so tempt¬≠ing. We want to do some¬≠thing to make things bet¬≠ter. Many of us want to save our neigh¬≠bors from the virus‚Äďlook at the money lost and ef¬≠fort spent on so¬≠cial dis¬≠tanc¬≠ing.[5] This no¬≠tion of lov¬≠ing our neigh¬≠bors sounds a lot like a Bible verse to me.

While some have been quick to mock some Churches‚Äô re¬≠sponses to the coro¬≠n¬≠avirus,[6] I have been en¬≠cour¬≠aged by the com¬≠mu¬≠nity rep¬≠re¬≠sent¬≠ing Christ‚Äôs up¬≠side¬≠down king¬≠dom.[7] Their prayers, words of en¬≠cour¬≠age¬≠ment, and im¬≠promptu wor¬≠ship ses¬≠sions have been a salve‚Äďde¬≠Ô¨āect¬≠ing the gen¬≠eral para¬≠noia and frus¬≠tra¬≠tion with gov¬≠ern¬≠ment bu¬≠reau¬≠cracy. Whatever is left of re¬≠li¬≠gion in America, it is still good at pro¬≠vid¬≠ing hope. According to cer¬≠tain tales, Jesus Christ is com¬≠ing back some¬≠day to re¬≠store the uni¬≠verse to glory. In the mean¬≠time, death has still lost its sting. Critics may have ar¬≠gued that Christians are opt¬≠ing out of life, but I think we are mak¬≠ing it liv¬≠able right now.

  1. From this CNBC ar¬≠ti¬≠cle: The home¬≠own¬≠er¬≠ship rate among mil¬≠len¬≠ni¬≠als, ages 25 to 34, is around 8 per¬≠cent¬≠age points lower than it was for Gen Xers and baby boomers when they were in the same age group. ‚Ü©Ôłé

  2. From Elon Musk: ‚ÄúI think there are re¬≠ally two fun¬≠da¬≠men¬≠tal paths. History is go¬≠ing to bi¬≠fur¬≠cate along two di¬≠rec¬≠tions. One path is we stay on Earth for¬≠ever, and then there will be some even¬≠tual ex¬≠tinc¬≠tion event. I do not have an im¬≠me¬≠di¬≠ate dooms¬≠day prophecy, but even¬≠tu¬≠ally, his¬≠tory sug¬≠gests, there will be some dooms¬≠day event. The al¬≠ter¬≠na¬≠tive is to be¬≠come a space-bear¬≠ing civ¬≠i¬≠liza¬≠tion and a multi-plan¬≠e¬≠tary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.‚ÄĚ ‚Ü©Ôłé

  3. From this NBC ar¬≠ti¬≠cle: Major de¬≠pres¬≠sion is on the rise among Americans from all age groups, but is ris¬≠ing fastest among teens and young adults, new health in¬≠sur¬≠ance data shows. ‚Ü©Ôłé

  4. Statistic is from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It‚Äôs up to date as of 2018 ‚Ü©Ôłé

  5. We shut¬≠down the Las Vegas casi¬≠nos! ‚Ü©Ôłé

  6. This New York Times ar¬≠ti¬≠cle is good ex¬≠am¬≠ple of the mock¬≠ing: ‚ÄúTrump‚Äôs re¬≠sponse to the pan¬≠demic has been haunted by the sci¬≠ence de¬≠nial¬≠ism of his ul¬≠tra¬≠con¬≠ser¬≠v¬≠a¬≠tive re¬≠li¬≠gious al¬≠lies.‚ÄĚ ‚Ü©Ôłé

  7. As a side note, most churches did shut¬≠down dur¬≠ing coro¬≠n¬≠avirus. For ex¬≠am¬≠ple, ac¬≠cord¬≠ing to Christianity Today ‚Äúninety-three per¬≠cent of Protestant churches are closed in America, for fear of spread¬≠ing COVID-19.‚ÄĚ ‚Ü©Ôłé