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God and the Pandemic

God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its AftermathGod and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath by N.T. Wright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick read. The first few chapters weren't as substantive, but the last two were filled with good bits.

The book includes some interesting and provocative reflections on the doctrine of God ("Might we then say that God the creator . . . has no appropriate words to say to the misery when creation is out of joint?"), which then lead to fascinating ideas in pneumatology and ecclesiology. The church should be present where people are in pain and our first task is lament.

In his final chapter he expressed some of what have been my concerns in recent months. He calls the church to take safety seriously and not do stupid things, while at the same time lamenting that the church is being left out of its traditional role of being present with sick, dying, and grieving people. He also worries that "faced with a major crisis, [the Church] has meekly followed what seems to be a secularizing lead." That we have reinforced the idea that worship is a personal hobby we share with like-minded people.

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"Padre, You've Been Shot"

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My colleague the Rev. Darrell Goodwin, Associate Conference Minister for the Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota Conferences of the United Church of Christ, picked me up around 5:30 in the evening so we could head downtown to work as clergy providing pastoral care and de-escalation in an effort to avoid more violence, particularly loss of life while also bearing witness to those who were angry about yesterday's decision not to charge the killer of James Scurlock.

We parked on the outskirts of downtown, donned our clergy stoles, and began walking.  As we came up to the first of five police cordons we went through, I lowered my mask and introduced myself and explained why were were there, intentionally speaking first as the white man in the duo.  The first two cordons of officers sent us ahead.  At the close of each exchange, I wished those officers well and said I was praying for them.  In all the officers you could sense their worry and the tension of the day.

At the third cordon, we encountered a commander in military style fatigues who then walked us the remaining few blocks and through other cordons to where the protestors were gathered.  We walked up to the first officer there, who just happened to be Deputy Chief Kanger.  We again introduced ourselves, and he gave us elbow bumps.  We said what we were there to do and asked if we could be of help. He seemed very pleased and thanked us.  He asked us to talk to people who seemed particularly emotional, which is what we spent a lot of the evening doing.  This was the first of many conversations over the next few hours with the Deputy Chief.

Darrell and I headed to the front of the line.  We walked along between police and protestors introducing ourselves to both.  I generally led next with, "How are you feeling this evening?"  Which often elicited a long response.  In each exchange I'd close with offering to be of help in any way I could and told them I was praying for them.  One young man asked specifically for me to pray over him.  Many thanked us for being there.  A few talked about how churches needed to talk about these issues.

The protestors were almost all so young.  They were upset and afraid.  They didn't understand this injustice, why people keep getting killed, why nothing ever seems to improve or does so so very, very slowly.  A number of the protestors at front were engaging the police in conversations.  Occasionally they took pictures together.  

A few, and it was only a few, were more aggressive, yelling at the police.  Often other protestors gathered around those folk to try to de-escalate them, and the few clergy there (I think I counted six total over the course of the evening--fifty clergy would have radically altered the event for the good) also tried to engage those folk in conversation.  My experience was that most people just wanted their pain and anger heard and after someone listened to them, they appeared not as agitated.  Darrell did amazing work on more than one occasion talking someone down, including one person who early in the evening wanted to rush the cops.  

Occasionally I had to explain to some protestor why what they were demanding some cop to do was something that couldn't be done last night, trying to help them see how unreasonable demands didn't work, but that those demands could be channeled, were legitimate, and could be pursued.  

I talked for a while with one of James Scurlock's brothers, who was so heartbroken and was there to thank people for peacefully representing the family as they had asked.

Shortly after we arrived one very young woman was asking the front line of police if everyone could march together.  A pastor from Zion Baptist heard her and brought her to the Deputy Chief to talk and eventually the Deputy Chief okayed that, so the crowd, with some police included, marched around the Old Market.  For a good part of this march I walked alongside the Deputy Chief and we discussed how to help the situation when the 8 o'clock curfew rolled around.  During the march around I also ran into a church member there protesting.

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I was most troubled by one very angry woman who had a toddler with her who walked along the line screaming at all the cops.  I tried talking to her child, and she snatched him away and then wouldn't talk with me.  Darrell tried, and she wouldn't talk with him.  But eventually she did, and Darrell kept trying to talk her into taking care of her baby.  She did eventually seem to disappear.

Some of the young people were wonderful positive influences on the crowd.  One young man, crying, got everyone to kneel and asked all the cops to, and when they did, the crowd erupted in positive cheers, suddenly the cops were swarmed with hugs, hand shakes, and selfies.  This occurred shortly before the curfew, and I believe is one reason that many of the young people left before the curfew.  They had been heard and their pain acknowledged.

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Suddenly as the curfew fell, the crowd was very different.  Many of the folk who had been there on the front lines for hours had left and there were new people.  It was also a much whiter crowd than earlier.  At that point Darrell and I began trying to talk them into leaving peacefully.  One couple asked, if we do leave, which way do we go, we look boxed in.  So, I asked the Deputy Chief, who told me to the North, so we began passing out that information.  It was clear that some did not trust us or the information.  It was during this time that I had protestors asking if I was really a cop.  Or I overheard them say to others after I had talked to them, "You know he's a cop, right?"

I saw two young women, the eyes above their masks revealed their fear.  I stepped up to talk to them.  "What happens now?" one of them asked.  I told her that those who remained would be arrested.  "I can't be arrested.  Where do I go?"  I told her she was to walk north.  I took the two of them to the Deputy Chief and had him confirm that for them.  So those two young women started out the exit route.  A trickle of others began to follow.

And suddenly, some idiot in the departing crowd through a water bottle, and some police began shooting pellets at the people leaving.  I was horrified, as I had sent them that way.  I ran into the street screaming at the cop who was firing to stop as the Deputy Chief had sent them that way.  The look he gave me, I thought he was going to turn his weapon on me, but he did not.  He did quit firing.  A media person nearby said, "Yeah, they fucked that up."

We kept encouraging people to leave peacefully, even after that happened.  There was a moment when the protestors were completely closed off from the exit route.  Darrell and I were standing together with the media across the street and began yelling for the police to make an exit route.  Which they listened and did.  Suddenly, some shots and tear gas were released not far from there and so many took the opportunity to run for the exit.  Darrell and I were walking along and got a little separated.  A couple of cops began insisting I move along.  I told them I'd been working with the Deputy Chief in getting people out and was waiting for my clergy colleague right behind him, he told us snidely, "You should have left already, it's after curfew."  He didn't listen to our explanations, but we moved along, encouraging those leaving to keep going and not turn around and yell or anything as doing so risked everyone going that way.

The gas now came our direction and I was coughing and struggling momentarily to breathe.  A woman came up and squirted water on my face and in my mouth.  Moments after that, as I was walking along behind the protestors with my arms raised and yelling, "Leave peacefully" I was knocked to the ground by an impact on the back of my neck.  I yelled "What hit me?" as the realization and fear began to dawn on me.  A young man ran up to me, "Padre, you've been shot." Darrell grabbed me and pulled me against the wall of the building to make sure I wasn't bleeding.

At that point we rushed along behind the exiting protestors continuing to encourage them forward.  We finally turned a corner and found four police to whom we explained what had just happened, who we were, that we had been told by the Deputy Chief to go that way but had been shot and gassed.  We asked what was the safe way back to our car and they directed us.  We had to repeat this conversation a number of times.

We finally made it back to our cars and had to drive a circuitous route back to my house where Darrell dropped me off and then drove himself home.

I've never seen so many cops. So many of them in full military gear.  There were military-style vehicles in the streets.  It was horrifying.  There are so many different and better ways to let people express their justified anger without creating a war zone.

Today my entire body hurts, but my soul hurts even more.


Fairness in Policing and the Moral Order

Last weekend I read Michael Ignatieff's excellent book The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (you can read my review of the book here).  In the first chapter of the book, he makes this point:

Fairness in policing is the absolute sine qua non of the moral economy of the global city.

Before any other problem can be addressed or before virtue can be cultivated, a population needs to trust the police.  He writes that for the diverse city, the site where the moral order is most contested is policing.  He adds, "Police abuse is an affront to basic moral expectations: it makes a mockery of the creed promoted in every citizenship class, school civics lesson, and Fourth of July speech."

He adds that in America it is precisely in policing where our highest ideals are most in contention.

What helps to create a more moral police force, according to Ignatieff, is a robust civil society, with strong social institutions.  One chapter of his book is about Los Angeles, which focuses on the good and difficult work that city has done since Rodney King in order to build a civil society.  He writes that policing must be viewed as "politics in action" and as "maintenance of a shared moral operating system." 

Victory is achieved when people no longer feel that they are "prisoners of impersonal forces."  He adds, "To have a moral community in a city is to recover some semblance of sovereignty over life as it is lived.  It is to have the sense that you can work together with others to shape common life to humane ends." 


The Basic Question of the Moment

I feel as if the most basic question of our worldwide moment remains unclear.  And how one answers that basic question implies radically different behaviors.

That basic question is:  Is the coronavirus an infection we should all/most anticipate getting at some point or is it an infection that can be avoided?

Back in February I read that Atlantic article that said option A, which has been my underlying assumption all along.  But it became obvious in April that many people were under the impression that number two was true.  In recent weeks I've seen very little that clarifies this basic question, and even the public health experts I've asked have largely been unable to answer it satisfactorily.

Let's call Option A the one where everyone or most everyone can expect to be infected.  That means this is largely an event in the natural history of our species that we have to get through.  Five percent of humanity may die.  A significant number will be seriously ill, some with lasting lifetime effects.  While a large percentage (according to the best data currently available) will have no or few symptoms.

Back in the first quarter of the year you read and heard debate about two approaches to Option A--either spike early and get it over with or flatten the curve so the medical system doesn't crash and has time to prepare.  Most nations chose the latter public health approach.

On Option A the purpose of the public health measures is to manage the crisis.  Manage it so we can prepare.  Or so health systems don't crash.  Or to try to delay most infections until a time we have a better treatment or better yet develop a vaccine.  Or try to manage so that the most vulnerable aren't impacted unjustly. 

On Option A  the recent lockdowns could be understood as temporary measures in order to prepare the health care system for the inevitable and are not justified once those preparations are in place.  Or another version of Option A is that they are justified until treatment is available.  But a common feature of Option A is the measures must be weighed significantly with other factors.

On Option B the purpose of the public health measures is to avoid getting the virus all together.  So the lockdowns would be justified in being longer.

A goal of Option B would be to keep as many people alive a possible.  That might also be a goal of Option A, but with the larger goal of maintaining a social order that can see us through a horrible event.

The two options suggest different behaviors as well, at least for some.  For example, if you can avoid the virus all together (Option B), and particularly if you are vulnerable, then you should minimize your risk. 

But, if you can't avoid the virus and will eventually get it no matter what you do unless you live permanently as a hermit (Option A), then you might engage in more risk.  Some might go so far as to try to get it and get past the crisis, some of those because they are taking the chance of being in the large percentage that is asymptomatic and some for other reasons.   Some might conclude that if they have a good chance of getting sick and dying, then they will want to enjoy their life and not be stuck at home.  I've had a 95 year old say as much to me acknowledging that they don't have that much longer to live regardless.

In some of the classic pandemic literature you see that the worse the crisis became that  some people began to live more openly, enjoying life precisely because the times were grim and there was risk that they would not survive.

Of course, even on Option A, some will try to hold off on running the risks of being exposed till a better treatment is available. 

Note: John Rawls developed the veil of ignorance to be a thought experiment, but here we are in a real life version.

On Option B many normal social functions would be curtailed for a longer period of time.  On Option A they would not, as they would be needed to help through the crisis.  On Option A  you will want more social solidarity in order to help with the care and grieving.  For example, I think of my institution--the church.  If a great deal of illness and death is inevitable, then you will want the church engaging in all of its functions of care and support and performing its rituals of grief and consolation.  

Another example, some of the leading choral music organizations last week recommended that choral singing largely be avoided until this is a vaccine in order to minimize infection.  But that approach only makes sense if you are confident that Option B is correct.  If Option A is correct, then singing together will be an important part of human solidarity helping the grieving through the crisis.

On Option A you will want to do your best to try to minimize the other traumas and disruptions (including but not only economic) brought about by the virus.  Whereas on Option B you will tolerate more disruption to society.

On Option B you would trade even some long term damages to society, the economy, child development, mental health, other health factors, etc. in order to minimize the death toll.  Whereas on Option A you would want to minimize all those long term damages in order to help humanity to more quickly recover from the horror of the crisis.

So, it really seems that this most basic question is the uncertainty we most need to figure out if we are to know collectively what we are to do and individually what risks we should take.


More Philosophy: The Just & the Right

Following up on my philosophical follow ups of yesterday, later last night I read Judith Butler's piece on the pandemic.  She criticizes that situation because we have previously failed to create a more just health care system that would have handled this better.  Because of this systemic failure,

Social and economic inequality will make sure that the virus discriminates. The virus alone does not discriminate, but we humans surely do, formed and animated as we are by the interlocking powers of nationalism, racism, xenophobia, and capitalism. It seems likely that we will come to see in the next year a painful scenario in which some human creatures assert their rights to live at the expense of others, re-inscribing the spurious distinction between grievable and ungrievable lives, that is, those who should be protected against death at all costs and those whose lives are considered not worth safeguarding against illness and death.

Alex Broadbent in his pieces has been making the point that we have to do the hard thinking to determine what criteria make these choices.  Nor is it consoling to point out that doctors make these choices all the time.  Of course Butler is also correct that we should have a better system to begin with.  I think that's also inherent in Agamben's criticisms of the response.  My own thoughts a few weeks ago were, "Why aren't we doing what South Korea did which is obviously better?"  Only to eventually realize we weren't prepared to do that.  We've inflicted social harm (and hopefully not longterm harm on the institutions of the republic) because of that.

It is the role of philosophers to conceptualize and criticize and imagine how to do better and right.  Broadbent has been insisting that there are relevant data and criteria that do not seem to be factored in to decision making.  Agamben is insisting that the decisions be broadly more and not focused solely on survival (a fair point, though I feel Agamben is functioning in some sort of fantasy).

Yesterday I was reading Leo Strauss's essay on Plato's Republic.  A most infelicitous writer Strauss.  But in that essay he makes Plato's point that the just city is impossible.  Which raises the question, what is the most just city that is possible then?  Or, given our failures to create a better system to begin with and our failures to be adequately prepared (and surprisingly so since this virus is nowhere near as fatal as Ebola or SARS and as one friend said, "this is our practice run" for the really bad pandemic) what then is right, good, and just?  Fair debate to be had there, but also not to lose site of the fact that being cornered by the failures into a series of bad choices.

While I was reading Strauss, Sebastian was re-watching Frozen 2 where Queen Elsa is told to do "the next right thing."  Sounds like sage advice.  In this moment, maybe that's all that can be settled for.  But the next right thing is often not clear and rather narrows our vision of the moral.


Philosophical Follow Ups

A couple of new links to follow-up on previous posts about the pandemic and philosophy.

Last Sunday I posted Alex Broadbent's article "Thinking Rationally About Coronavirus COVID-19," which generated some vigorous discussion on my Facebook timeline.  He's out with two more articles, becoming something of an indispensable voice in this crisis (he is a "philosopher of epidemiology").  The article "Why a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 could have lethal consequences" discusses why the measures taken in other parts of the world might have a higher mortality rate than the virus if they were taken in Africa. 

His other new post in a broader article at Daily Nous entitled "The Role of Philosophy & Philosophers In The Coronavirus Pandemic."  I particularly liked the final paragraph labeled as "Call to arms:"

The skill of philosophers, and the value in philosophy, does not lie in our knowledge of debates that we have had with each other. It lies in our ability to think fruitfully about the unfamiliar, the disturbing, the challenging, and even the abhorrent. The coronavirus pandemic is all these things. Let’s get stuck in.

One of the commentors, a Tom Cochrane, writes about how aesthetics intersects with the pandemic:

Aesthetics won’t help to combat the disease, but it will point out that there is considerable final value to be found in simply observing what is happening, for its own sake. Whatever else it is, the coronavirus is incredibly interesting. A great big rock has been dropped into the pool of human society and we are witnessing a million different effects that even the best fiction writers would have found hard to anticipate (who would have anticipated the creative response of putting different song lyrics to hand-washing instructions? and also how this is now *so* last week?)

So all I’m saying is that, like everything else, there is intense drama, and beauty, and sublimity and tragedy and comedy in this event. And it will no doubt stimulate the creative responses of human beings for years to come. And perhaps in recognizing- and embracing this, we can be less fearful or depressed.


At Home: "It is Moral"

“'Marguerite Derrida has just left us, a whole world is leaving,' announced the Institute of Advanced Studies in Psychoanalysis (IHEP) in a press release dated March 21, 2020." The widow of the acclaimed French philosopher has died of COVID-19.  

In Italy the moral, social, and human cost of no funerals is mounting.

A criticism of Giorgio Agamben published in the Chronicle of Higher Education (unfortunately behind a paywall) rightly points out that writings on the pandemic have focused on the moral crisis:

Agamben correctly observes that the question of the proportionality of the response is not a scientific one; it is moral. And the answer is not obvious. Here, at least, Agamben arrives at a serious question. This is exactly the kind of question we had hoped the humanist could help us answer.

Note, if you've missed the discussion of Agamben, I've been tracking it in my recent blog posts on the pandemic.

This author zeroes in on some appropriate criticisms, but I feel as if her essay is just the beginning of a response.  I was left wanting more from the final section.  Also wanting her to grapple more fully with the story out of Italy about lack of funerals, for instance.

The intellectual response is growing this week.  Here at The Point, one can read plague journals from around the world, including a shortened version of that Chronicle of Higher Education article not behind a paywall.

And this evening I listened to a good podcast interview with the always interesting Anne Applebaum about authoritarian opportunism during the crisis and how the USA should learn from this to modernize its bureaucracy.  

Yesterday I encountered the Philosophers on Medicine podcast, which has yet to grapple fully with this crisis, but they do address some of the concerns that it raises.

An interesting Midlands Voice in our local paper wondered if the luck of the Boomers has finally come to an end as they now face their biggest challenge as a generation.

My long planned sermon theme for this coming Sunday is "To Be More . . . Hopeful."  What seemed like a serious challenge at the start of the week quickly took shape, as I will be exploring some of the things I've preached about hope before and testing them against the current crisis.

And just because this post lacked any cute Sebastian photos, here is a previously unshared one from a few days ago.

In a tree


At Home: Labyrinths

Defoe

Daniel Defoe, in A Journal of the Plague Year, which I'm currently reading having intended to read this year even before the pandemic, writes this key paragraph:

Now let any man judge from a case like this if it is possible for the regulations of magistrates, either by shutting up the sick or removing them, to stop an infection which spreads itself from man to man, even while they are perfectly well and insensible of its approach, and may be so for many days.

To that end, I recommend Thomas Pueyo's "The Hammer and the Dance," which does the best job of anything I've recently read about the best current steps and what comes next.  

Even so, there are other voices.  As with any scientific question, there are unknowns.  There's this piece I read on Towleroad entitled "What's the Best Path Forward?"

Part of the value of reading Defoe, or any of the other classic works of plague literature, is that we so often live in the fierce urgency of the now, and historical perspective gives us some sense of what has always been case and the ways our time is not unique.  Also that this too shall pass.

One of my main worries last week was that I saw so much focusing only on one dimension of the problem--the medical questions of the virus (or secondarily the economy) but less about all the other well-being and moral issues implicated.  This week there does seem to be more of that, including more articles about mental health impacts of social isolation, the rise in domestic violence that has already occurred after only one week, and this article in The Atlantic "The Kids Aren’t All Right" about the lasting effects this trauma will have upon a generation of children.  I also had an engaging conversation with a professor of gerontology on Saturday who thought that nursing homes should be providing residents a choice instead of placing them unilaterally in lockdown.  Her reasons were that lack of visits from family and friends are proven to shorten life expectancy, so residents should be offered the choice of whether they want to run the risk of the virus and still be with family and friends.  This is vividly brought to light in my own congregation by a member who was already in hospice and yet now doesn't have those visits, at a time when she would normally be surrounded by people loving her into death.

Defoe has this (among other things) to say about churches in the midst of the 1665 epidemic in London, "Indeed nothing was more strange than to see with what courage the people went to the publick service of God even at that time, when they were afraid to stir out of their own houses upon any other occasion."  He writes about the courage of ministers staying in town and ministering to the citizens.  We are, of course, doing it differently in 2020.  Most of our connections these days are virtual.  This week's staff meeting was inspiring as we now are getting a little more used to everything and are beginning to come up with more innovative and interesting ideas for what to do.  Also this week we will be rolling out more of our programming.  The staff meeting was one of the things that yesterday helped to lift my mood.

Neptune painting

At Dadda's Preschool today was about the planet Neptune, which included painting our papier mache planet.  We also spent a good hour outside with Sebastian riding his bike and walking the church's labyrinth (which I recommend if you can get over there some day on your own).  While walking and biking the labyrinth, Sebastian kept asking, "Is this the right path?"  

I kept answering, "It is.  But it tricks you."

Sebastian biking the labyrinth

I also seemed to have a lot more work to do today.  I didn't come near to completing my to do for church or here at home.

Yesterday's paper in Omaha reported that our citizens are doing a good job of following the guidelines.  Fingers crossed.

 


At Home: Difficult Night

I confess last night and this morning were rough for me.  I believe I can safely say I'm depressed.  This situation is so contrary to all my normal ways of operating and many of my normal coping mechanisms for difficult situations don't seem well-suited to this one.  I do think it would be easier if I could be at a cabin by the lake with my husband and son and we had nothing to do.  I vacation where you are completely disengaged is something many of us long for, but this situation is not that, obviously.  I'm envious of those who can be home with family reading and getting bored.  

Last night I started reading W. S. Merwin's Garden Time, one of his last volumes of poetry, with reflections on aging and growing limitations.  There is a darkness to it that seemed fitting.  This poem stood out the most to me:

Living with the News

Can I get used to it day after day
a little at a time while the tide keeps
coming in faster the waves get bigger
building on each other breaking records
this is not the world that I remember
then comes the day when I open the box
that I remember packing with such care
and there is the face that I had known well
in little pieces staring up at me
it is not mentioned on the front pages
but somewhere far back near the real estate
among the things that happen every day
to someone who now happens to be me
and what can I do and who can tell me
then there is what the doctor comes to say
endless patience will never be enough
the only hope is to be the daylight.

I haven't seen much yet written by America's leading philosophers (where you Martha Nussbaum?) but there's quite a lot happening in Europe.  In Sweden philosophers have helped design the ethical protocols for triaging care.  While a great debate has been stirred in Italy about the response to the virus taken there.  The European Journal of Pscyhoanalysis invited some leading thinker to respond to what Michel Foucault had previously written about the rise of the disciplinary state in the midst of plague.  You can read there contributions here.  Giorgio Agamben has, in particular, generated much controversy and response with what he has written about it.  Here is his latest.  And an Arendtian response to these European thinkers that I wish were longer can be found here.  A different perspective from a quarantined Italian philosopher is shared here.  Slavoj Zizek seems to have taken very different positions, here in an early writing and here in a more recent oneHis most controversial claim is that he thinks the crisis will result in a return to communism.

Altar

I think our worship live stream yesterday went reasonably well.  As of this morning we've had 370 views.  Yesterday we also had Zoom Sunday School and will be rolling out some other digital services this week.

Sebastian and I continue our study of the planets.  Yesterday we papier mached two balloons for the model solar system we are building.  Sebastian didn't want to touch the paste and was ready for a break after two.  I think when these (Neptune and Saturn) dry, we'll paint them so he can see finished product.  

Papier mache planets

He really enjoys his new book The Girl Who Named Pluto and has requested that we read it every night.  So this morning for our school time we watched a video about the New Horizons mission to the dwarf planet.  That occurred in 2015 when he was a newborn.  At the time the mission thrilled me--the idea that we as a species had the ability to design a spaceship that would travel that far and send back pictures, the reality that Pluto was so beautiful and sat there unobserved until that moment, the ideas that we as a species are capable of great things and that the universe is filled with beauty.  At the time I talked often to newborn Sebastian about the mission and showed him the photos NASA released.  His high chair became the "rocket chair" and as we traveled from the kitchen to the dining room we'd pass the various (newly named by humans) features of the planet such as the Sputnik Planum and the Norgay Montes.  Watching the video together this morning brought back all those lovely memories and helped my mood.

I recommend this article that I read yesterday entitled "Against Productivity in a Pandemic."


At Home: Finding a Rhythm

After my rough patches on Thursday, which I wrote about here, I feel like the last two days we've found more of a rhythm, though I've still had my moments of tiredness, lack of patience, anxiety, and irritability.  

Moon phases

First some Dadda's Preschool updates.  We learned about moon phases with Tatay using Oreos.  We figured out ways to do physical education inside on a cold day by creating obstacle courses to run.  We enjoyed the Zoom meeting that his preschool put together and will be doing every weekday morning so all the kids can see their teachers and each other.  Because the skies were going to be clear, we finally got out the telescope, which Sebastian has become very interested in.  Some new books we ordered arrived and we've enjoyed reading them.  And this morning we started our project of making a model solar system.  We blew up the balloons and cut the newspaper into strips and tomorrow will begin the papier mache.  Here are a few photos:

Telescope
Telescope

I'm really proud of the way Sebastian's holding up, though he's had his moments too.  I think he's grown up a lot in one week.  It's been particularly nice to see him helping even more with the daily chores and doing so with enthusiasm.  This morning he got his toolbox out so he could fix some broken things around the house.  His future spouse will hopefully thank me and Michael.

Yesterday I enjoyed some good cooking and baking time, a nice therapy.  

This morning I also finally found some time to catch up on reading various sites I usually follow closely.  Politico had a thorough discussion of ways that the Coronavirus may permanently change society.  I think this speculation may be a little early, but was interesting to read nonetheless.  Many thought that 0n-line education was a permanent fixture now, though one thinker thought the opposite.  An entire generation will be tired of on-line learning and will long will old fashioned human engagement.  I liked that idea.

Another article a couple of weeks old and so maybe already a little dated though still interesting, was a philosophical analysis of costs and benefits in order to evaluate what are the rational responses to the virus.  One interesting consideration discussed there--are the longterm effects to young children worth extending the lives of the elderly by a few months or years or will the current public health decisions inflict a greater longterm harm?  

In the morning I did find myself shedding a little tear at the news of Kenny Rogers's death.  Not that I was a big Kenny fan, but he was such a major star and fixture of popular culture in my early childhood, when I was the age of our son.  

Tomorrow our First Central worship service will be streamed live at this link.