It is consistent to say that everyone is equally intrinsically valuable by virtue of being human, and that death will deprive more future well-being from some. Focusing on the deprivation of future well-being will immediately bring up concerns.
For those who are most vulnerable today—those at risk of infection due to socio-economic injustices that put them in greater harm’s way and/or age and immune-deficiencies that leave their bodies more compromised to the most severe effects of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in the United States, the disproportionate numbers of people of color whose communities are being ravaged by this disease—John’s text speaks a word of encouragement and hope.
An epidemiology of critique investigates our work as genealogists by taking it too literally. It exaggerates, satirically, the materiality of genealogy’s metaphor and clarifies, sincerely, how it structures critique’s politics—its predisposition to quarantine, purge, and escape.
By the end of that first week our operations shifted and many of our staff, including myself, were set up in a senior center in Queens getting ready to boost our food distributions and our senior grab-and-go grocery bags. During that week we began to anticipate two major developments of this pandemic: the public health crisis and the ensuing economic hardship.
Could prophetic politics, with its unique emphases, allow us to envision another, possibly less dogmatic and more differentiated form of political theology? Could focusing on the schism between prophetic voice and political institutions reveal a different understanding of political theological concepts, beyond the realm of power and sovereignty?
We must remember that even when the pandemic is over, this nation will still be under threat by people and forces who have declared war on everything and everyone it defines as “other”. We must remain committed to being hospitable to the stranger, and caring for the most vulnerable.
Thoreau is a figure who all at once embodies, hyperbolizes, and in that hyperbolization lays excruciatingly bare the contradictions of what Michael Warner calls “liberal culture,” and that for our part we might name secular capitalist modernity.
These restrictions must take into careful consideration the historicity of each religious tradition, the social influence of religious beliefs among its citizens, but also theological and exegetical specificities that influence the tradition’s adaptability to the current emergency. Without such thoughtful considerations and a close collaboration with trusted religious authorities, religious communities could be alienated, which can be disruptive in times that require rather unity of thought and action.