…Something smaller than a hair follicle has effed up our best and most tried and true constructions and inventions.The Sci-Fi Theologian
(This post ain’t and will never claim to be exhaustive. I’m just taking a small slice out of this pie. There are always other angles… but this what I got today…)
Like Sobrino said of an earthquake in El Salvador, I say the same. COVID-19 is an X-Ray of our world. All of our unhealthy, unsustainable, and broken systems are being exposed. All of our wack theology, ideology, economic configurations, identity politics, political arrangements, healthcare systems, ecological malice, and personality worship are being exposed and ethered. Nothing will be spared.
This is a different kind of judgment. Many will say it’s a judgement from God. I believe that’s an escape. Imagine a theologian and preacher like me saying such a thing. But that’s what I believe. A judgment from God is too easy for/on us. We would like it to be from God. But that would still kinda make us the center of the universe. But what if what is happening is really just from this infinitesimally small dead/not dead organism? What if the unveiling comes from a sliver, a micron…?
We want cosmic and theological judgment. That would mean we are cosmically and theologically significant. But what about a viral judgment and unveiling? That would mean that we are not so cosmically significant. That would mean that something smaller than a hair follicle has effed up our best and most tried and true constructions and inventions. And that, my friends, is what I’m beginning to see unveiled.
The very definition of religion is to “bind (back)” humanity together and to God. But what happens when we love binding more than we love each other and God?
Do we really think we can handle or perceive God’s judgment if we can neither handle nor perceive the “judgment” of a virus? How can I talk about the hand of God if I don’t even think about or acknowledge the probing proteins of SARS-CoV2?
I guess this where the Sci-Fi and the Theologian meet. I admit it. I’m a weird MF. But this is what I think about… and y’all came down the rabbit hole… sooooo…
One of the major things I have observed in the midst of this pandemic is how utterly anthropocentric—human centered—(traditional and progressive) Christian theology is. Ivone Gebara and ecofeminism really rubbed off on me, I guess. I mean, even when people are appealing to God, it’s clear to me now, we are appealing to ourselves, our traditions, our theology, our sacred spaces, our worship…
Across the world, religious gatherings, among other gatherings, have been sources of outbreak when it’s come to COVID. South Korea, Spain, and America… religion does mean to bind. And indeed, the very definition of religion is in the “binding” of humanity together and to God. But what happens when we love binding more than we love each other and God? That post is coming… the post where I really think about some of the theology and idolatry in this moment.
This post is about the unveiling in general. The corona shines brightly and reveals brokenness and resilience.
Yes. Words do reveal. But they also conceal.
I’ve seen them. Conspiracy theories. Pronouncements of divine sifting. I understand them. A conspiracy says that someone put this in motion. A judgment from God says there is a purpose behind this. But, a virus? That’s random. That’s out of our control. And human beings worship control and domination like they are God. Even though God is not control and domination. Randomness… this thing, this thing terrifies us. Randomness is the devil and the source of great fear for human beings. We try to domesticate by calling it “Chinese Virus.” We try to act like our social constructions, our international borders can contain it.
Ha. Our hubris.
“It’s like the flu.” “It’s a hoax.” “We can still have church in the church building.” “We don’t need to socially distance.” “It’s just for old folks.” “It’s just for those who are already sick.” “It’s only on the west coast.” “It’s only in Europe.” “It’ll be gone in a few weeks.” “Black folks don’t get it.” “It was created in a lab.”
As if our statements, our descriptions actually and completely define reality. Yes. Words do reveal. But they also conceal.
And they ain’t trying to listen to no virus.
And so now it comes to us. Capitalism cannot immunize us. Race, whiteness, blackness—the modern constructions identity cannot immunize us. No religion will immunize us. No political affiliation or ideology will do it. And even the best of our science and supercomputers won’t crack the code for awhile. We are naked. Our ability to defeat what’s lurking can only be solved in the midst of love… and not the love that our broken systems, ideologies, and theologies have produced.
No. We are going to have to love love. We are going to have to love paradox and contradiction. We will have to say, “because I love you I can’t be around you, right now.” We will have to admit that the truth, like this virus, is both static and dynamic—and will have to walk and chew gum and do them both with delicacy and precision. We will have to love the pursuit of truth as much as we love truth because Truth’s last name is Elusive. And her middle name is a country compound name: Is Very
She can be found though. If you love to search for her. But in the midst of the Corona, falling in love with Easy Answers leads to heartbreak hotel and societal and interpersonal shipwrecks.
I’m a witness.
We will have to admit that in certain respects, we have no control and that buying and hoarding TP ain’t gone save us. Buying more guns and ammo won’t save you from a virus. This ain’t the Walking Dead. Would that we could see that our systems were already broken and dead and in need of resurrection—not resuscitation.
We are not the main character in this story. And our idols of worship… that thing that pulls us out on the beach with 1000s of others in the midst of a pandemic, that thing that will have folk defending a president who has finally recognized he can’t tweet or bluster his way out of this, that thing that still wants us to do all the stuff we want to do and say to hell with everything else… that ish must die if we are to prevent more and more deaths.
The Corona shines brightly. And it unveils much. It is relentless and anxiety producing. It sickens and kills. It exposes and ethers. It shows that banks didn’t need to foreclose on homes; that the government could have bailed out average Americans instead of distressed banks; that student loan interest could have been dismissed; that capitalism and free markets can’t produce life saving material on general principle because profit-seeking often corrupts the common good—Jesus told us that BTW—that our dependence on oil clouded our skies and polluted our air; that all the stuff we bought we really didn’t need; that churches can be places of hope but also places that condone, maintain, and amplify virulence and contagion…
But there is also resilience. I see it in my wife when she goes to work at the clinic and hospital. I see it in my colleagues who have gone online to do church ministry and have tried to responsibly and lovingly shift theological perspectives. I’ve seen Baby Boomers, my parents, who don’t listen to nothing I say… and some of them have sat down and stayed in. Some… lol… I’ve seen how technology, which I often castigate, can help in enormous ways. I’ve seen my children FaceTime their grandparents and give them connection in a time when many of our elderly people live alone.
I’ve seen scientists, doctors, and even a few politicians finding a way to free themselves from the constraints of a socioeconomic system that will never be equipped to deal with crises like this. I’ve seen family members and friends bring food to loved ones. I’ve seen cities ban evictions for the rest of the year.
I’ve seen human beings recover from this virus even as I lament and am anxious about the deaths it’s caused. I see resilience just as much as I see precariousness.
I’m praying for the sick, the health care workers, those in leadership positions, and all people to be healed, led, guided, and protected by the Spirit in such a time as this.
I see it. I feel the resilience and precariousness in my bones.
That’s what life is. A mix of resilience and precariousness. That’s what I wrote about in my dissertation. That’s what I think about a lot.
Immanence and transcendence.
Mundane and extraordinary.
Resilience and precariousness.
Faith, Hope, and Love…
The Corona shines brightly. And God is watching. And God is here in the midst of it all. But so is the virus. And if we can’t let the virus be a virus, then we will never let God be God.
May eyes see; May hearts feel; May ears hear; and May spirits embrace what is being disclosed.
Peace be with y’all…
© MJ Sales 2020