That Was The Week That Was

This week I wrote about the effects of the 1918 influenza pandemic on American churches. I thought it might be well-timed, but I couldn’t have anticipated what would follow, during a week unlike many others in recent memory. (For that matter, I can hardly remember recording a podcast on Wednesday, in which we innocently wondered if sports would be affected by COVID-19…)

Technically, the virus is called SARS-CoV-2 – National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases

• Turns out, it just took one basketball player testing positive for the novel coronavirus for the dominos to start falling. This weekend there’s hardly any organized sports being contested anywhere.

• I already thought that sports was significant enough to teach a course and produce a podcast on them. But I think we’re about to realize just how important they are for millions of people.

• How should pastors and other Christian leaders respond to COVID-19? Andy Crouch had some thoughts.

• Our church canceled in-person worship services for at least two weeks, which seems like the right move for a mainline congregation with a large number of elderly parishioners.

• It’s not just Americans and Christians who are seeing the coronavirus impact their religious practices.

• At the start of the week, only a handful of American colleges and universities had suspended classes because of COVID concerns. But things moved so quickly that Bethel seemed slow in waiting until the end of the week to move all classes online at least through Easter. An English professor at Wellesley explained why such disruptions are so significant for the collegiate narrative.

• For those of you stuck at home, some Anxious Bench colleagues and I put together a list of suggestions for binge watching on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

• If you’ve got friends who think we’re all just overreacting, try sharing this chart.

• But then there’s another kind of overreacting, one that is putting Chinese restaurants out of business.

This Pew survey was conducted before the coronavirus crisis really deepened in the U.S., but somehow I doubt that all of Donald Trump’s recent dissembling would stop 69% of white evangelicals from somehow viewing him as an honest person.

• But perhaps if they learned about another segment of the white population that tends to support the president…

• In any event, this white evangelical thinks that Peter Wehner’s judgment is harsh but fair: “it’s hard to name a president who has been as overwhelmed by a crisis as the coronavirus has overwhelmed Donald Trump.” (Don’t just take Wehner’s word for it; read this piece in The American Conservative.)

Coronavirus graffito from London – Creative Commons (duncan c)

• In other news… For my money, the best piece this week having nothing to do with the coronavirus was Kristin Du Mez’s post on the generational divide in feminism.

• The Museum of the Bible admitted that all of its fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls were forgeries.

Is race a modern construct, or a legacy of the Late Middle Ages?

• The debate over the New York Times‘ “1619 Project” continued, with the Times backing down (somewhat) from the project’s claim that a primary reason white colonists fought the American Revolution was to preserve slavery.

• Here’s a deeper dive into how churches in one American city responded to the “Spanish flu.”

• I’m sure the coronavirus will put a dent in this number for 2020, but the last few years have seen a significant uptick in visits to museums and other historical sites.