Voices in the Wilderness

Cries of reason in an echo chamber of noise

Let me just start this with a bit of a confession. I feel a bit isolated in conservative media spaces right now. I come on the radio in the afternoon and try to both reassure people, but also make clear there are problems with this virus. The news changes hourly. I am tired of talking about it. But I must.

I’m bombarded by the conspiracists who ride a wave of media self-immolation to discredit even the basic scientific knowledge we have about COVID-19. People hear what they think I said instead of what I actually said so they can get mad at me to vent. I literally spent half of yesterday getting yelled at by conservatives for daring to disagree with friends on the radio and TV about whether the virus is a real concern or not. It is.

I get the frustration and desire to dismiss it. The media has not helped itself. To spend weeks referring to the “Wuhan virus” only to declare usage of the phrase racist has helped the President’s supporters cast doubt on the overall narrative. Rushing out the story, as Politico did, suggesting the President is exempting the UK from a travel ban because of his own financial interests just allows the President’s supporters to cast doubt on the narrative. Fixating on the phrase “foreign virus” does the same. The Don Lemon meltdown with John Kasich does the same. The media giving a pass to Democrats insistent on abortion gamesmanship in their spending package just reinforces this is all political.

The media is very good at providing the President’s supporters ammunition to claim this whole thing is a partisan scare campaign. One need not be a conspiracy theorist to recognize the bulk of the mainstream media really does want to bring down this administration.

But ultimately, to do that, we must believe that Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and Ireland have joined the American media, Disney, the rest of the Fortune 500, the NCAA, the NBA, MLB, and MLS in a grand conspiracy to take out the President by tanking the economy.

If you believe that, I can’t help you.

Is the media politicizing this? Yep. At this point, they can’t help it any more than the average joe can help going on a toilet paper run. Is it still a crisis? Yep.

A person with the seasonal flu infects 1.3 other people. A person with COVID-19 infects at least 2 and it is now looking more like 3 other people. When you subtract China and Iran’s undoubtedly fake data from the global data, the mortality actually goes up even as we still expect it to ultimately be 1-2% mortality.

But the biggest issue is this one: hospital space.

If we cannot get people to stop congregating, the virus is going to spike in its spread. There are not enough hospital beds for patients. While 99% of people will survive, 10% of the infected will need hospital care. Given that the virus is doubling now every two days in the United States, we will run out of hospital beds in a few weeks if we can’t slow it down.

And, by the way, we are looking to slow it down now, not stop it at this point.

Now, to the important thing: people of faith in times of crisis

Many places of worship are going to close their doors in the coming weeks to prevent COVID-19 from spreading among the congregants. It is a reasonable decision in light of both the ages of congregants in most places of worship and the highly infectious nature of the disease.

Please just remember this. Jeremiah 29:7 says to seek the welfare of the cities in which you are in exile and pray for those cities. There you will find your welfare.

At a time of growing antagonism toward people of faith in this country, churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues need to consider stepping into the breach of fear and going towards the illness, not away from it.

Do an audit of your congregants. Some of them may not be active. Some may not have set foot in the door in a while. Find them in your communities. Pro-actively reach out to them and let them know that whether the church doors can be open or not, the people of faith do not close up shop.

Get volunteers who are willing to provide meals and check on those who might get sick. Teach your congregants safety and sanitation skills. Make your presence known.

Remember, there will be those in your congregations who do not want to ask for help. Go to them first. Go to them directly. Insist on providing help whether they like it or not. Be their family. Be insistent.

Once you have taken care of your flock, spread out into your local community and provide for those in need. Offload the government burden onto your congregations to free up the government to help others. Help local nonprofits helping others.

Now is the time to show your community what loving your neighbors is all about. It is about more than an hour on Saturday or Sunday. It is about seeking the welfare of your neighbors — the saved and the lost, the believer and the unbeliever. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to serve. Run toward the ill, not away from them.

You may not be able to meet on Sunday, but you can drop off meals and check on people, if only at the other side of the doors through which you talk. See the welfare of the cities in which you are in exile. Pray for your cities. Because there you will find your welfare.

Parting Thing

Our kids go to a small Christian classical education school and they need sponsors for a fun run to raise money for a new playground. If you’re interested, go here. And wow. I swore I’d never do anything like this and here I am. Amazing what your kids can guilt you into doing.