In the midst of a pandemic, can these Advent texts speak to our grief, both collective and personal, in political ways? These scriptures reveal that to grieve is to bear witness to our tears through righteous anger. They interrogate how our lives are structured along inequitable lines in this present moment and counter a simple return to how things were.
Living in a time of double pandemic, as the dual waves of racism and COVID-19 wreck against the hulls of our ships and the walls that support us feel increasingly insufficient and even flawed, we, like Peter, may know and trust the call of our God to carry forward in God’s path, and yet waver.
Before the COVID pandemic, low-wage workers were already living in precarious circumstances because these jobs often lack benefits necessary to provide for health care and additional income necessary to build things like emergency savings and retirement funds.
Blaming Covid 19 on the World Health Organization or on a lab in China and calling Black Lives Matter “radical leftist extremists” follow the American-populist playbook of responding to duress by targeting an alien “other” who have wronged “us” and whom “we’re” right to combat with force.
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.
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.
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.