Thursday, March 12, 2020


Public health officials tell us the coronovirus is on us. The world is in a pandemic. Dr. Fauci said yesterday things will get worse before they get better. He was certainly right about today. Things are worse. In the next weeks, they are likely to get much worse as the virus spreads. Although only a tiny percentage of people who contract the coronavirus die, it is still ten times more deadly than ordinary influenza, according to Dr. Fauci. 

The number of cases in the United States is growing rapidly. Government officials are scrambling to impose all sorts of measures to "mitigate" the spread of the virus. They do not seem adequate to me. For instance, only very few people have been tested. There are not enough testing kits. Federal government measures so far are woefully inadequate. The president, as usual, is clueless.

The stock market is collapsing. Today it dropped a whopping 2,352 points, 10% of its value---in one day! This is the worst one day fall in 33 years. In the last month, the Dow has lost 20% of its value, from about 29,000 to about 21,000. There is a sense of panic on Wall Street.

What about church? In lower South Carolina, there were two important developments today.

In the first, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina announced it has postponed its annual convention that was supposed to start tomorrow. Find their announcement here . Presumably, it will be held later, perhaps in a non-traditional form.

In the second, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina issued a letter from the chair of the standing committee and a letter from the archdeacon concerning ongoing church services. Find the letters here . There are two take-aways from these letters:

1---No handshaking in church, period:  "Refrain from handshakes at The Peace and at other times."

2---The common cup will continue, but drinking from it is entirely at the discretion of the communicant:  "Receiving Communion of One Kind in the bread alone is always a valid option for a communicant."

Only speaking for myself and no one else, here is what I think is important about church during the looming virus sweep:

---Go to church if one is not infected. We need it individually, and the church needs us. In times of peril, we need the comfort and reassurance of our ancient ritualized religion more than ever. We are one body. We need to be present to show it. (It should go without saying if you are infected, have tested positive, or think you could be infected, stay home in self-quarantine.)

---Instead of shaking hands, I intend to use friendly gestures as slightly bowing, holding my hand over my heart, waving, and elbow bumps. All of these show caring without the danger of transmitting germs on the hands. Of course, everyone should wash hands thoroughly before going to church, as well as afterwards.

---I for one will be taking the wafer only and not be drinking from the common cup until the danger of the virus has passed. Intinction is not a sanitary substitute. In fact, it is germier than drinking. Germs from the hands and fingers get on the bread and are transferred to the wine. After a few intinctions, well, you get the idea.

We will get through this health crisis together. It is best not to panic or grow hysterical. It is a bad virus, to be sure, especially for the elderly. It looks now as if the virus will spread in our communities. It is important that we keep check on our friends and neighbors and follow the Golden Rule. Love and care for the sick as we would want them to do for us. (In the great Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, my grandfather went door to door in the rural countryside of south Alabama caring for dozens of his neighbors who were sick and dying. There were cases where whole families died and he was the only one nursing them at the end. Yet, he himself never caught the flu.)

As for now, common sense measures can help us get through this crisis and keep it at a minimum. Meanwhile, keep abreast of what is going on in your local church and keep an eye on what the diocese is advising. Peace.