Science and faith = friends

If you’ve read my blog very long, you know that I am a follower of Jesus. Belief in him has been the foundation of my life for years.

That also means that I believe in the anointing of an individual and laying hands on their head in prayer, asking God for a healing–whatever form that takes.

I do this in the context of a specific faith tradition–and it is one that from the beginning has acknowledged the ways in which faith and learning are friends. Part of the early counsel given by our founder talked about “seek[ing] learning by study and also by faith.”

I have no problems with people of faith praying when they are ill. But neither do I have a problem with those same individuals calling on medical science to help in the healing process.

I believe that we have been given minds and a curiosity for learning for a reason.

Science and faith are not exclusive. They can–and should–work together. Even if you consider faith “merely” a placebo, science has shown that that belief impacts how our body reacts.

This current pandemic is challenging–and reminding–us that we need both faith and science. Even if you do not believe in the Divine the same way I do, if you go to a doctor, you still have faith in something.

We are seeing what happens when people decide that faith will trump science. Those who have chosen to continue meeting together, despite warnings about the need for physical distancing, have far too often found themselves dealing with COVID-19…and creating problems for others.

Continue to trust…to pray…but also listen to scientists and doctors. Many of them are also people of faith–who put their faith into action by learning all they can about this world…the diseases we are faced with…and how to help us cope with them.

Faith and science are not exclusive…they are friends!

Let’s get serious, people!

I’m furious today! Furious…appalled…disappointed…there aren’t enough words to express my feelings.

Why?

I’m furious at people who are not taking COVID-19 seriously. This is not just like the flu we deal with every year. It’s more like the 1918 pandemic.

I’m furious at those who continue to congregate in large groups, ignoring requests and orders to avoid gatherings or shelter in place because they don’t think it will impact them.

I’m furious at religious leaders who see no reason to stop services because they believe that they are somehow protected because of their beliefs.

I’m furious at an administration that frittered away weeks when we could have begun taking actions to mitigate the spread of this virus…and who continues to minimize its seriousness.

I’m furious at those who are asking first responders to put their lives–and their family’s lives–on the line without appropriate and necessary protective equipment as they deal with individuals suffering from this virus.

I’m furious at those who consider the elderly and vulnerable as “collateral damage” in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Yes, I know the economy is important–but not at the expense of our humanity.

I don’t know what alternate universe some are living in. How in God’s name can you look at what’s been happening in other parts of the world and believe that we’re not as vulnerable? Those areas that have taken major (and difficult!) steps to try to stop this virus have been doing better; the areas that have waffled and delayed…that didn’t think it was any big thing for weeks have been hit hard.

It’s time…no, it’s past time…for us to get serious about this. This is the time to listen to those who have studied past pandemics and viruses…who can give advice based on science and facts.

For the sake of everyone, please listen to those who know what they’re talking about–and then follow them!

 

Where is the church? Who is the church?

Many of us are feeling unsettled these days.

Not just because of concerns about the virus–although those are very real concerns that we have no answers for.

But for many of us whose lives have been built around church activities, we’re facing new questions.

Activities are being cancelled. We can’t leave our homes to go to a church building for services on Sunday morning (and any other days of the week we might be used to).

We’re not sure when we’ll be able to get together face-to-face again…when we’ll be able to hold each other tight in hugs…when we’ll be able to mourn together…rejoice together.

And it raises questions for us: Where is the church? and who is the church?

If we don’t have a building and activities to engage in, how do we understand church?

Yes, it is unsettling. But it’s also a wonderful opportunity!

Maybe we’ll find out that church truly isn’t a building…it’s us. And church can happen anywhere…and any time.

Maybe we’ll discover gifts we never knew we had.

Maybe we’ll discover opportunities we were to busy to see before.

Maybe we’ll discover that all those differences between faith traditions that we thought were so important…really aren’t. Maybe we’ll find that we have more in common than we thought…after all, all the great faith traditions have some version of what Christians call the Golden Rule.

And maybe…just maybe…we’ll rediscover our humanity towards each other.

Image result for golden rule

Who are we…really?

Who are we…really?

Each of us wears a mask on a daily basis–a mask that presents the face we want the world to see. But what’s behind that mask?

There’s a medieval story about an ugly man whose ugliness turned everyone away from him. He wore a mask that changed his appearance for years–and when he finally took it off, he found that his face had reshaped into the beauty the mask had always shown.

There’s also a related interesting etymology for the word “hypocrite.” That comes from Greek drama, where players wore huge masks to portray the character they were playing–someone whose mask didn’t necessarily match who they were.

This pandemic is challenging us in many ways–but one of those challenges focuses on the consonance or dissonance between the masks we wear…and who we really are.

Do our words and actions match?

If we follow a religious tradition, how well do our relationships and actions match the words we say we believe?

Are we putting on a mask of blessing…of inner beauty…and allowing that mask to change us into that person?

Or are we simply wearing  a mask like the Greek actors did–a mask that doesn’t match who we are?

We cannot hide our true selves during this time. How we treat and interact with others will show who we are.

Really.

This is Sabbath time…

I woke up this morning–Sunday morning–and I don’t have any place to be. My place of worship is closed, and that’s where I normally spend my Sunday morning.

Where to go? What to do?

I could worry and stew.

Or I could accept it as a gift…a time to step back, to let go of all the “stuff” I think I have to do.

I can stop and think. What is my relationship with others? family…friends…those I just bump into at the store or on the street. What do my interactions with them demonstrate? that I am concerned and care for them? or just myself?

What is my relationship with the Divine (whatever name I use)? Do I see the Divine as some kind of a Santa Claus to give a wish list to once or twice a year–but basically ignore the rest of the time? If the Divine somewhere far away who doesn’t really care what’s going on in my life? Or is the Divine my foundation? my friend? the One who walks with me every day in every situation?

How do I use my time? Do I prioritize wisely? or just fritter away?

This virus is changing our lives. It’s creating challenges for all of us.

But it’s also providing an opportunity…an opportunity to take Sabbath time…to think…to rest…to refresh and renew.