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Author: Jonathan Clark

Fragments on Fragments #37: Being Human in a Pandemic

Wisdom is part of the divine, so it is beyond us, but also woven into the fabric of the world which God created. Because it is part of God’s created order, wisdom is not morally neutral: true wisdom is integrally linked with righteous living.

“Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;

   and to depart from evil is understanding.”

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Fragments on Fragments #36: Being Human in a Pandemic

It feels at the moment as if we have partial maps, each showing something of the terrain and the way ahead. To add to the challenge, some of the maps are fake, showing ways that don’t exist or removing features from the landscape. Interpreting all that partial information, in order to plot a way ahead, can only be a shared task.

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Fragments on Fragments #35: Being Human in a Pandemic

The problem comes when there’s no process: when it’s impossible to get beyond denial. The death of a loved one is too obvious a loss to be denied forever. When a threat is more diffuse, less graspable, it’s possible just to keep on denying it’s there, especially when the consequences of doing otherwise just feel too great to deal with.

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Fragments on Fragments #34: Being Human in a Pandemic

President Obama often used a phrase of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. But it appears that King was paraphrasing a portion of a sermon delivered in 1853 by the abolitionist minister Theodore Parker. Parker said: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

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Fragments on Fragments #33: Being Human in a Pandemic

‘Sophronein’, ‘thinking well’, comes up a lot in Heraclitus. It’s that Greek word which sums up what it means to live a good, balanced life. It’s not just about ‘thinking’ as we might define it; it’s about a way of living. This saying pushes the point a bit further, and makes it clear that this sort of thinking is not just something inside our heads. 

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Fragments on Fragments #32: Being Human in a Pandemic

Losses over the last few months have been of different kinds, but few of us have escaped without any sense of losing something. Living with loss is one of the hardest pieces of work for the human psyche. The loss of bereavement is the greatest, but at every level work needs to be done, not to ‘get over’ our loss, but to find out how we can continue to live with it and through it. Let us not underestimate how much there is to do, for ourselves and for our communities.

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Fragments on Fragments #31: Being Human in a Pandemic

Times of crisis are exactly those in which the rule of law is most challenged. Emergency legislation restrains our normal rights, extensively so in this pandemic. The danger is that we become used to it: that law becomes something which only reflects the needs of the moment, unmoored from any deeper principles of justice or equity, from a vision of what we believe society should be like.

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Fragments on Fragments #30: Being Human in a Pandemic

I’d like to focus mostly though on those of us who aren’t in such horrendous situations, but have also found ourselves spending more time with those with whom we are in the same household – for most of us, our nearest and dearest. For many, everything’s been just fine, but for some, relationships have come under real strain, even to breaking point.

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Fragments on Fragments #29: Being Human in a Pandemic

That is the sort of change which I at least find restful. Chaotic change is not! Change over which you have no control, or which you can’t at least predict, is exhausting – and it’s that sort of change we’re all living through at the moment. As the levels of virus rise and fall in different places, the rules of life change quickly. Keeping up with what’s allowed and what isn’t is hard work in itself.

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Fragments on Fragments #28: Being Human in a Pandemic

We all need rest. Not just now, but in the rhythm of our lives. The pandemic seems to have only accentuated the division in our society, between those who are over-busy, in even more demand than ever, and those who suddenly find that they’re not needed, that they’re surplus to requirements. That was always a great evil, and if it gets worse, it may end up creating a dangerous chasm through the middle of our communities to the extent that we are no longer aware of our unity.

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