That Was The Week That Was

This week I continued my “With-God Life” series of lectionary devotions (from John 9 to John 11, with psalms, apocalypses, and more in between) and recorded a podcast about teaching sports when COVID-19 has shut down sports. Over at The Anxious Bench, I recommended some virtual field trips for home-bound kids and considered the significance of history during a pandemic.


7th century icon of Mary and Jesus, from a monastery on the Sinai Peninsula – Wikimedia

• On Wednesday, I marked the Feast of the Annunciation by writing about Mary. But you’d do far better to read an actual expert on Mary write about what she can teach Christians, men and women alike.

• One value of historical study right now is that it can suggest helpful analogies. For example, what lessons can we learn from a plague-stricken village in 17th century England, or from the national sacrifices of Americans during World War II?

• At the moment it can feel hard enough to contemplate the problems of one universe. But if you need some diversion, you could always ruminate about the theological implications of a multiverse.

• Or you could use this as a moment to “return to the ABCs of inner, contemplative work that softens the anxiety of the time.”

(Michael Gerson, for one, recommended practicing mindfulness. Or we could just recognize how our lives are becoming more like those of previous generations.)

• And while you’re at it, catch up on reading. Maybe peruse the 1.4 million books now available from the National Emergency Library.

• Christopher Smith suggested that Christians’ “means of connecting and being the church in this tightly restrictive season will undoubtedly shape the future of our faith.”

The chapel at MacMurray College, a small Methodist school in Illinois — it announced this week that it is closing, its already shaky finances complicated by COVID-19

• Two possible religious effects: changed worship patterns might continue, and the tightened finances of this season may cause some churches to close.

• What’s it like to be a student or professor called back to campus in the middle of COVID? An investigative reporter went back to the campus of Liberty University.

• Like many colleges and universities forced to finish the academic year online, Bethel is offering students a pass/fail option, which has a fascinating history in American higher education.

• If nothing else, a pandemic helps the rest of us better appreciate the work of those in health care — doctors, nurses… but also chaplains.

• And it is clarifying just what it means to be “pro-life,” as conservative writers like Rod Dreher and Russell Moore recognized.

• Two final examples of how the pandemic is changing how Americans live, at least for now: rush hour has disappeared in L.A., and collaborative board games are finally catching on.