Corona, God, and Human Freedom: Doing Theology in Times of a Pandemic
As is always the case with major globe-encompassing events that loom as dark menacing clouds at the horizon of humanity’s future, would-be prophets and self-proclaimed men of God fill us in on the latest concoctions from the religious department.
I just witnessed Kenneth (Copious) Copeland heal donors of his ministry from Corona from the safe confines of his TV studio while Jim Bakker is using his ministry to sell a fake medicine against the dreaded virus. (He is now being sued by the State of Missouri, btw.) And I kid you not, one meme on social media asserted that “Corona is simply another name that needs to bow down to Jesus’s Name.” Either Corona has not figured out what it is to bow down or Jesus is having a hard time asserting his lordship over this world (and let’s face it, he hasn’t exactly got a stellar track record). There is of course a more sinister explanation, one that is not absent from popular religious interpretation either, Corona is God’s punishment on humanity and is a sign of the coming end times.
In order to do justice the whole issue of Corona in the light of the Christian faith, we need to address all this religious nonsense. Take the issue of the end time, for instance. Are the end times only now coming? Rather, I believe that ever since humanity became self-conscious and projected its life onto a path toward an imagined future, the end times have been with us, both as potentiality of love and as the certainty of mutual self-destruction. As we know the latter usually wins out while the former persists in the margin where it whispers of a world conceived otherwise.
Doing theology in times of crisis requires us to be sensitive to the widespread fear about how crazy things are going to get. We also need to address the question concerning God’s involvement and the matter of how one is to be Christian in dangerous times like these. The religious panderers are not making things any easier as they either give false hope or make things worse for those who are already afraid.