In last weekend’s Australian Bernard Salt, wrote of the absence of religion in many lives, and that in times of pandemic “It’s almost as if humanity needs a god to take the blame for matters beyond our control.
“But in modern, godless Australia we simply refuse to accept that calamity is random. Someone must be held accountable for our misfortune. And that is where I suspect the narrative will soon shift…It was all so much easier when God could shoulder the blame, forgive our sins and promise a better life.
“Navigating the current crisis could prompt people to rethink their godlessness. It could create heroes of those who show strength and selflessness, and trigger the downfall of others, especially in the political class. Somehow I think we will see all of these outcomes in the coming months.”
The Christian faith is not a fair-weather faith. It still functions in fair weather, but when the economy and the welfare system are humming along, God and the communion of faith seem less relevant.
A crisis squeezes us more tightly than usual and what’s in us will come out eventually. Some people are very self-assured. They are confident that they will rise to the occasion and triumph over adversity. Most of us are not so sure of what will come out of us if we are squeezed hard by financial instability, the demands of social isolation, or God-forbid that we or a loved one succumbed to the virus.
We only discover what people are made of - others and ourselves, under pressure. Frankly this crisis is not what we would choose, but it has chosen us. Some of us will be sensibly heroic. Others will be more anxious and reserved. We may be surprised at ourselves and what we really care about.
One advantage of crisis is that it exposes the true nature of things and people. If there are things that need to be fixed, crisis will demand it. There is much less obfuscation. We see this in our parliaments. In crisis people have to work together, conflict is a luxury we can’t afford. This is true of the human heart. In times of plenty we may pretend to be someone better than we are. In hard times we must fix what’s broken or perish. There is much to be gained spiritually in a crisis.
In a crisis, the social issues and conflicts that usually occupy the public space, the parliaments and the private space of home and family seem to go to ground. Everyone is too busy staying alive.
We have seen the general public and leaders reacting to those who are not considering others, not observing social distancing or the common good. Crisis permits calling out anti-social behaviour. In good times self-serving attitudes are almost a virtue of politics and economics. In a crisis we learn quite how interdependent we all are and that individualism has its limits.
Some social researchers identify the sense of social responsibility currently required of us all as a residual Christian value. It is as if society still recognizes that selflessness is the right thing to do, even though they may not identify it as an effect of faith or conscience.
Crisis has a very powerful effect on cultural values and behaviour. The political dictum “Don’t’ waste a crisis” holds true for us individually and together. As Bernard Salt suggested, who will become the heroes of this critical time? Who will set a new gold standard for collective citizenship? Already health workers are being praised (and prayed for). Some of our political leaders are providing very significant leadership. Some in the media are keeping the public discourse accountable.
Let’s bring this question home to the family and community level, as churches and Christians re-position themselves to be ‘the un-gathered church.’ In the home and in the church, sensible heroism always starts in our prayers but does not end there.
As we pray for those charged with difficult national decisions, for health-workers, and others services brought into the fray, for the elderly and the vulnerable, for the homeless, for the indigenous communities, for struggling businesses, for those losing work and income, for families and households struggling with diminished income, for those living alone, for those finding the lack of social support very unsettling, for every other human being that crosses our path, “Lord, help us to see them through your eyes.”
Prayer is not an exercise in itself, for making us better people, even though it will do that. It is coming close to God through Christ. It is listening and waiting before speaking out our anxious thoughts. Our prayer depends entirely upon what we know of God. Prayer is what people do when they know it’s time to get beyond the habit of religion. And we may have more time on our hands for a little while.
Prayer will certainly change those of us who pray, but its main purpose is to change the world in which we live. As Jesus prayed: “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.”
My prayer for you as you read this (and for myself) is that when we are through this we will look at our families, friends and neighbours with a deeper appreciation of God’s goodness to us all; that we will not lose the willingness to work together for the common good, that we will not surrender so quickly to self-interest, and that we will find ways to live respectfully with those who are not like us.
Most importantly, that we will have come to know God and choose to maintain the closeness.
By Charles Newington
Vice-President Mike Pence has urged Americans to keep supporting churches.
His comments come as churches across the world are closing their doors in response to the coronavirus crisis.
“Making the hard choice to suspend services, to have online services, even while those ministries are continuing to support food banks and come alongside of the most vulnerable,” he said.
“And of course the chorus of prayers that is coming up from communities of faith around the country is making the difference that it always has in the life of this nation.”
Pence said that “on the weekends that you’re not in the pews, it’s still a good idea, if you can, to go ahead and make that donation”.
“All the ministries are continuing to play a vital role in our communities and we encourage your continued support.”
Churches are coming up with novel ways to deal with limitations during the coronavirus outbreak, including streaming services online and offering drive through confession.
By Dr Toni Turnbull
Members of State Parliament will soon consider various recommendations made last year by the South Australian Law Reform Institute which include the appalling proposal to allow abortion throughout the entirety of pregnancy.
That shocking possibility will become a reality if State MPs remove gestational restrictions on abortion.
In three decades as a general practitioner, I have never seen or heard of any medical problem that could possibly justify the removal of gestational limits on abortion. That recommendation seems driven by ideology, not evidence.
I wonder if the legal minds at the Law Reform Institute are aware that each foetus is essentially fully complex by about 10-12 weeks, with such evident features as a beating heart and unique fingerprints. All systems essentially are in place. The little one gains no further complexity – only growth – and will become viable outside the womb by about 22 weeks.
Yet the proposal is to allow abortion up to 40 weeks! That recommendation, properly understood, must surely provoke moral outrage in the community.
Legal minds are perhaps also unaware that the risk of death to a woman from complications following abortion increases massively with every week from two months’ gestation and the likelihood of fatal complications from abortion after foetal viability is higher than if she had proceeded to delivery.
While I’m unsure if any of my patients would ever seek termination in the advanced stages of pregnancy, of this I am certain: such drastic action could not possibly enable anyone to better cope with whatever crisis may have provoked that response.
In my experience, healthcare and other professionals who support women patients are often told by them that abortion was the worst possible decision and is a matter of deep suffering and sorrow.
Doctors who are committed equally to the patient and her developing baby must offer the mother facing unplanned pregnancy with compassionate encouragement to brave whatever circumstances underlie the request for abortion, and to refer the patient to support services that will nurture mother and baby.
In the case of late-term discovery of foetal damage, we should do everything in our power to pull mother and baby through. But when healthcare fails, it remains much wiser when each patient allows nature to take its course, instead of seeking the destruction of her little one.
It is always better to provide tender loving care and the delivery even of a damaged, dying or dead baby – who may be held, named and loved. Palliative care for a sick or dying pre-born baby is better for everyone concerned and involves no regret.
But the immense physical and psychological problems including grief and loss reactions following termination (especially in the advanced stages of pregnancy) should caution MPs against legislating to achieve the Law Reform Institute’s disturbing recommendation.
MPs have much to ponder in preparation for debating the abortion question at some point this year.
If ever there has been a time in recent history for faith to be in the public square, it's now.
We have been through crippling drought, devastating fires and now a global pandemic.
Many who read this will agree that it is time to practically and prayerfully uphold the value of humbly acknowledging our reliance upon God, as the preface to our Federal Constitution states.
Let us be praying and doing good in our own families and communities, and add to the groundswell of care and hope across the country.
Regardless of whether our PM Scott Morrison holds a National Day of Prayer, we can all be praying daily, using points like these.
President Trump held a National Day of Prayer on Sunday in response to the coronavirus.
In calling the day, the US President tweeted that:
“We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.
“No matter where you may be, I encourage you to turn towards prayer in an act of faith. Together, we will easily PREVAIL!”.
Franklin Graham thanked President Trump.
“I am grateful that President Donald J. Trump has designated today as a National Day of Prayer,” Graham wrote on Facebook.
“With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 at home and around the world, people are afraid. Now is the time for Christians to be strong and courageous, knowing that Almighty God is with us.”
FamilyVoice is asking Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do likewise.
“As the nation seeks to manage this serious pandemic, and so many people are anxious, we encourage the Prime Minister to set a day for national prayer,” said FamilyVoice National Director Charles Newington.
“We ask for his leadership not only to secure public safety but to help calm a very anxious community, by encouraging the nation to pray.
“A dedicated day of prayer would help the nation ask God for help and restore calmness and good neighbourliness in our communities.”
FamilyVoice Australia upholds Christian values and the family: permanence of marriage, sanctity of human life, primacy of parenthood and limited government.
Don't miss out on quality research and news that will equip you to face the culture wars.
Join the growing movement of young people daring to be counter-cultural.