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Religion meets coronavirus #12

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — two book compilations on the virus — one about Christianity, one about world religions — and a handful of articles, plus one paper on cartel use of coronavirus, non-religious but still of interest ]
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I was introduced to two books on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on religions via the New Religions Movement mailing list. The more interesting by far, from my own point of view, since it is more diverse and yet precise in pinpointing many of its topics, is:

  • Pierluigi Consorti, Law, Religion and Covid-19 Emergency
  • Freedom of religion is certainly one of the areas in which the coronavirus confronts religion, and in which on occasion religion may confront the coronavirus — as the breadth of papers here clearly illustrates:

    Note in particular, of very specific Christian interests:

  • Enrica Martinelli, Orthodox Easter Covid-19: Israel allows the opening of the Holy Supulcher to receive the “Light of Resurrection
  • Pierluigi Consorti, Coronavirus emergency in the monastic autonomous republic of Mount Athos. Contagion without covid-19
  • Matteo Carni, Vatican City State and Covid-19 emergency
  • And addressing non-Christian religions:

  • Caterina Gagliardi, Saudi Arabia’s caution in times of health emergency
  • Chiara Lapi, The Saffron Wave Against Virus. The Hindu Nationalists and the Covid-19 Emergency
  • Vasco Fronzoni, In Pakistan the mosques will remain open for Ramadhan but with restrictions
  • Enrica Martinelli, The Talmud teaches: “When pestilence is in the city, stay inside”
  • **

    The second, and more restricted offering is:

  • Campbell, Heidi, The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online
  • This, as you might imagine from its title, is exclusively concerned with Christianity, albeit globally and across denominational boundaries:

    Contributors to this eBook come from ten different countries—within North America, Europe, and the Antipodes—and represent 12 different Christian denominations including Mainline, Catholic, and Nondenominational churches.

    **

    It remains only for me to list a few articles from news sources detailing Saudi and Indian responses to COVID-19:

    The Hajj — the major pilgrimage to and circumambulation of the Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, obligatory on all Muslims with the means to support it — has been cancelled this year on account of the coronavirus. The most useful account I have run across is:

  • Ken Chitwood, Hajj cancellation wouldn’t be the first – plague, war and politics disrupted pilgrimages long before coronavirus
  • Perhaps the most significant disruption of the Hajj occurred in

    One of the earliest significant interruptions of the hajj took place in A.D. 930, when a sect of Ismailis, a minority Shiite community, known as the Qarmatians raided Mecca because they believed the hajj to be a pagan ritual.

    The Qarmatians were said to have killed scores of pilgrims and absconded with the black stone of the Kaaba – which Muslims believed was sent down from heaven. They took the stone to their stronghold in modern-day Bahrain.

    Hajj was suspended until the Abbasids, a dynasty that ruled over a vast empire stretching across North Africa, the Middle East to modern-day India from A.D. 750-1258, paid a ransom for its return over 20 years later.

    Also of note is the hadith quoted:

    If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.

    Compare the title of Enrica Martinelli‘s piece above: The Talmud teaches: “When pestilence is in the city, stay inside” — DoubleQuote !! The hadith is “agreed as authentic” and found in two of the central collections of ahadith, S?ah?i?h? al-Bukha?ri? 5396, and S?ah?i?h? Muslim 2218.

    **

    Varanasi:

    I have sung aarti myself in Haridwar, one of the sacred cities beside the Ganges: “Twameva Mata” — “You are my Mother” — appropriate for Mother’s Day. Ah Well, Aarti in Varanasi, the ceremonial depicted above, has been shut down by reason of the coronavirus.

    Also largely stopped in Varanasi is cremation at the burning ghats — taken to be a sure route to paradise, with bodies brought in from around India. The Ganges, which carried away

  • Deccan Herald, Eerie silence looms over Varanasi cremation ghats amid coronavirus pandemic
  • Hindustan Times, Corona times keep the dead away from Kashi’s holy cremation ghats
  • Deccan Chronicle, Coronavirus caused lockdown is healing the holy Ganga
  • **

    Not to do with religion, but still of interest, is blog-friend Doc Bunker‘s lasted piece:

  • Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 29: An Overview of Cartel Activities Related to COVID-19 Humanitarian Response
  • See also this video:

    Coronavirus meets religion #10

    Sunday, April 19th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — donations solicited, camels’ urine tippled, Afghan Sikhs attacked ]
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    Not sure about this one:

    Jackson Daily News, Television in the coronavirus age

    Joel Osteen. Prosperity gospel mogul Joel Osteen promises his audience that the Coronavirus will end if he gets donations of $5 million in the next 24 hours. Guest Creflo Dollar tells Osteen, “I wish I’d have thought of that!” A gullible third-world nation goes bankrupt giving it a try.

    **

    Pretty sure about this one:

    man promotes using camel urine as a cure for coronavirus and other respiratory diseases according to Islamic medicine from r/facepalm

    **

    And then there’s this — tragedy in the making!

    The Last Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan Plead for U.S. Help

    The last community of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan is seeking asylum in the U.S. after suffering an attack by Islamic State extremists, posing a test of the Trump administration’s pledge to protect and support religious minorities world-wide.

    The Islamic State attack targeting a Sikh temple in Kabul last month killed 25 people, while dozens of others were taken hostage in a six-hour siege ending in a gun battle with Afghanistan’s commandos, the elite army unit that works closely with U.S. Special Forces.

    Coronavirus meets religion #9

    Thursday, April 16th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — religion can tear us apart by bringing us together – it can also bring us into balance – the three movements here are Diné (Navajo) – Dreher – Diné ]
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    Diné:

    It was at a smaller meeting at a church commonly associated with tent revivals that COVID-19 seems to have struck the Navajo nation:

    Navajo Times, Virus strikes at rally: Chilchinbeto church gathering may be source of outbreak

    The nation — the Diné — is highly susceptible to the coronavirus, susceptible by virtue of widespread diabetes, obesity, and other underlying conditions. In the words of the New York Times:

    As of Wednesday night, the virus had killed 20 people on the reservation, compared with 16 in the entire state of New Mexico, which has a population 13 times larger.

    It is not the fault of the religion —

    The participants in the large gathering that congregated March 7 at the Chilchinbeto Church of the Nazarene Zone Rally — a meeting in which pastors deliver messages to their members — may have all been exposed to coronavirus by at least one person who later tested positive for the disease.

    — but perhaps of a failure of government to inform the Diné with sufficient clarity in enough time, or of this particular congregation to refrain from congregating when that puts the congregants, and the Diné as a whole, at risk of death.

    **

    Catholic:

    Rod Dreher is a pretty interesting writer`, a conservative Catholic who draws a lot of his ideas from St Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism> A paragraph of his caught my attention recently:

    I’ll end by repeating what I think is a useful simile: going to church during the pandemic is like participating in an Appalachian snake-handler worship service, because it puts the participant in mortal danger. The virus is the poisonous snake, which may or may not bite you. But the virus differs, in that a person who is exposed to it at church could carry it out into the world, and share it unwittingly with every person he meets thereafter. It’s like leaving snake-handler church with pockets full of copperheads, which slide out in the grocery store, and everywhere else the worshiper goes.

    Very insightful, IMO.

    **

    Still relevant, IMO, are the prayers of the Navajo Night Chant:

    In beauty may I walk.
    All day long may I walk.
    Through the returning seasons may I walk.
    On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
    With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
    With dew about my feet may I walk.
    With beauty may I walk.
    With beauty before me, may I walk.
    With beauty behind me, may I walk.
    With beauty above me, may I walk.
    With beauty below me, may I walk.
    With beauty all around me, may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
    In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
    It is finished in beauty.
    It is finished in beauty.

    How could the Navajo ideal of balance, Sa’a Naghai Bik’e hózhó — untranslatable, at least by myself — balance, beauty, blessing, or more literally In old age walking the trail of beauty — how can this most basic of Navajo concepts ever be less than relevant? In the words of Mountain Way:

    Thereby blessing extends from mountain ranges roundabout, thereby I shall live in blessing.

    Eclipsing the Sun, and reaching the Limit, in religious texts

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — two footnotes in the study of religions ]
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    There are plentiful references in prophetic and apocalyptic writings to eclipses of the sun, but I’d like to suggest that religious texts suggest an alternative to darkness as the result of a solar eclipse — the “divine light” knowwn to mystics.

    Thus in the commentary to Howard Schwartz‘ novella The Four Who Entered Paradise we find:

    It is significant that elsewhere this primordial light is said to have had the power to “eclipse the light of the sun,” just as the primordial Adam was so splendorous as to “eclipse the light of the sun.” And in size this primordial Adam extended “from one end of the universe to the other,” like the light that enabled him to see “from one end of the universe to the other.”

    When we read “signs of the times” which include eclipses of the sun, we might do well to remember this possible interpretation, referring to a spiritual rather than a physical eclipse.

    Consider, for instance Revelation 21.23:

    And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

    **

    Likewise, the Prophet Muhammadwas was enabled to see Jibril at the lote tree, which marks the farthest boundary near the garden, the boundary beyond which human knowing, physical and spiritual, cannot penetrate, beyond which Jibril dare not fly lest his wings burn. Sura 53. 10-18:

    So did Allah convey the inspiration to His Servant what He (meant) to convey.
    The heart in no way falsified that which he saw.
    Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw?
    For indeed he saw him at a second descent,
    Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass:
    Near it is the Garden of Abode.
    Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!)
    (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong!
    For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!

    Muhammad also visits “the farthest mosque” — but being unable to recall its details, is given another vision of it, from which he is able to describe it…

    Coronavirus meets religion #8

    Sunday, April 12th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — two quick dips into the deep end of Christianity at Easter, a suitably humorous question for the physician zayde to the nation, and in closing, a personal note ]
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    Dr Russell Moore, Churches and governments are cooperating. Let’s keep it that way.

    Over the last few days, there have been sporadic reports involving local governments and churches that have been troubling to some Christians. Other than a tiny minority of these cases, the reality is that most churches and most state and local governments are working well together to maintain social distancing and to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in our country. The vast majority of churches recognize the legitimate authority of the governing authorities to prevent public gatherings for the sake of public health (Rom. 13).

    Paul to the Romans, 13. 1

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

    **

    Pope Francis and the Coronavirus Pandemic During the Easter Holy Week

    I see the Church as a field hospital after battle

    The Pope characterized the present moment, in his native Spanish, as a time of “the saints who live next door,” the people whose daily acts are enabling society to function. He added, “If we become aware of the miracle of the next-door saints, if we can follow their tracks, the miracle will end well, for the good of all.”

    **

    An open letter to Dr. Anthony Fauci. asking for Passover seder advice

    My Uncle Murray insists on tweeting that Manischewitz cures coronavirus. In case the president sees this, please tell him it’s not true. Also that he shouldn’t retweet it, no matter how tempted he is by Uncle Murray’s use of all-caps.

    Chag Pesach sameach! Next year, together!

    **

    I used to say that this Skilled Nursing Facility where I’ve been in the long-term care wing for over two years now was about eighty percent hotel and twenty percent prison — but you know, my God, it’s way better than that — it’s awash with service and compassion. How do you beat that?

    Christos Anesti! Happy Easter!.


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