Ranting in a Pandemic

First, a short apology. This is going to be a short rant. Hope it doesn’t offend anyone, but I think we need to address church leadership during times of crisis. Some of what I see in the news deserves a rant.

Let’s start with some good news.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced the release of an anti-malaria drug which is effective at stemming the effects of COVID-19 in individual. This is no cure and not a vaccine, but it will allow more sick people to stay home, taking pressure off of our hospitals. Three or four vaccines are also in the works, but they’re at least 12 months off. Still good news, though.

The Trump administration also asked congress for checks of $1,000 per adult and $500 per child to go out within the next few weeks. A second similar wave would follow. The Senate answered him with a proposal to kick the amount up to $1,200 and $600.

Now, some bad news. Two members of Congress have tested positive for the virus which is bad and I feel for them, though with it hitting people in power, the virus may trigger more action to help end this thing.

Italy just passed China with the most deaths from the coronavirus crisis. The country’s death toll hit 3,405 yesterday.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that among the roughly 12 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. needing hospitalization, about 1 in 5 are people ages 20 to 44. This is not just an old person’s disease. Many of those hospitalized are in serious shape.

America’s trajectory for community transmission is now trends toward Italy’s. A USA TODAY analysis projects a worst-case-scenario of 210 million Americans infected by December. Under this forecast, 21 million people would need hospitalization and 200,000 to 1.7 million could die by the end of the year. We have fewer than a million hospital beds—they better not all get sick at one time.

Possible Solutions

The best option is to kill the virus quickly but that’s not easy unless a vaccine appears overnight. Unless we all just comingle so everyone gets sick and those who die, die. This would beat the virus but at indescribable cost. The economy would recover quickly. Home prices would drop as a bunch of old people, like me, die injecting more supply into the market. And, fewer old people would take strain off the medical system—but that sounds much like Germany in the 1930s a path no one wants. So what else might work?

The only real option is to flatten the curve—slow illness so the medical system can handle it.

Ed Yardini, a Wall Street strategist suggests that escalating fear could help. If we don’t get everyone sick at once, we can freak them out at the same time. He wrote, “Perversely, the more fear the better, because the best cure for a viral pandemic is a viral panic.” He was writing about the economy. But, along another line, mass panic might make us all self-isolate which would certainly slow the disease until a vaccine comes along.

Slowing the disease to flatten the death curve is viable. My wife, Ruby, points out that Moses did this when he assigned soldiers to protect the straggling elderly and infirm on their desert trek. These guys slowed the Amalakites from practicing genocide against Israel. Moses didn’t stop the attacks or Saul wouldn’t have been in trouble centuries later for not wiping them out. He did, however, flatten the death curve.

Here Comes the Rant

I heard a few stories in this week’s news that I can only label as dumb!

  • 10,000 Christians and Muslims gathering in Indonesia for a peace rally in the midst of a pandemic. A follow-on rally of 8,600 Muslims was interrupted by the police who discovered one man showing symptoms of the virus—how my did he infect at both rallys?
  • One pastor who insisted his church could meet as a crowd while passing out “anointed handkerchiefs with healing virtues.”
  • The pastor in Ohio who said, “ following the command of Jesus and choosing not to engage in fear. Instead we choose to worship, to give time, attention and gratitude back to God.” Question: Must it be in a large crowd or AND are those persecuted believers in Muslim countries simply doing the wrong thing, dishonoring Jesus by meeting secretly?

What in The World Is Going On?

So what’s the world outside the church doing with regard to social distancing? How does it make the dumb stories above appear even dumber?

  • NBA has cancelled season as did NCAA with March Madness.
  • Theaters are closing for the duration.
  • McDonalds is going to drive thru and delivery only as are other fast food outlets.
  • Simon Property group, the largest owner of shopping malls in the nation is closing all of its malls and retail operations—this includes 209 U.S. properties in 38 states. Simon is worth $17 billion.
  • The White House is asking that people not meet in groups larger than 10 persons.
  • I actually think ten is risky and we’re holding our small group by Zoom video chat.
  • The State of California just put us on lockdown, closing all non-essential businesses and outlawing gatherings for the duration.

Salt of The Earth Must Be Salty

Does salty mean standing up to government? What about submitting and praying for leaders? I noticed almost no mention of Trump’s call to prayer by Christians on social media last Sunday—a travesty. We all went to prayer after 9/11 and this is worse.

Craig Groeschel is self-isolating after exposure—can still preach from home. Question: Are Groeschel and Life Church not salty?

First Baptist Dallas, held services last week in clusters and in compliance with county, but going totally online this week. Question: Is First Baptist not salty?

What about the rest of us? I think salty means that we make a difference for generations to come. This means we need to be around for generations to come. So let’s do whatever it takes to stay well. If that means holding church via the internet, so be it.

As science begins to show that Millennials are capable of dying from this thing, the plea is two-fold. First, please don’t pass this thing on to your elders—don’t kill us because you feel invincible. Second, please stay strong because our future and the future of our economy is in your hands. Steward them well.

But the same goes for the church. Please take precaution. Don’t kill your elders. Stay healthy to serve like the very poor congregation that made the news by feeding 1,500 kids a day who normally only get one good meal each day from school because parents are too poor or too high to provide for their kids. Stay around. Don’t get sick and die, prematurely. Our church is in your hands. Steward it well.

BTW, if you want to hear ranting, I really sounded off on today’s PODCAST. And, please do comment in the box below. A lot of you write me nice emails using the Contact feature (above) you would do better to have your say throught the Comments feature as you would bless more people. Just saying…