I’m circulating this on the basis that almost all of us have had conversations among ourselves about the responses of the governments of the UK and the Republic of Ireland to the Covid-19 outbreak; also about what is an appropriate Christian response to the situation. All the recipients of this message are Christian friends or family; though you are spread around the globe and are of every shade and hue of Christian belief and culture. Moreover, each person receiving this message is someone who, I am confident, will not abuse its arguments to foment rebellion or threaten Christian unity, and will not be disturbed by the position for which it is arguing.
At the end of this message there is a link to an interview that I am suggesting will prove worthwhile. The interview is in several sections, each devoted to one fundamental question about responses to the Covid-19 outbreak. I’m not expecting replies to this message. I’m not going to quiz people about it. If you prefer, you can bin it now.
From the start, I have adhered to the UK government’s regulations about isolation, travel, mask-wearing and so forth. That is despite my scepticism about the governments’ responses in both countries. Also, most of you will know that I have been disappointed, at the deepest possible level, by the responses of various churches.
Nevertheless, I will continue to follow the regulations, partly out of respect for others. But I continue to be convinced that, for the nations of Britain and Ireland and for a very large proportion of their populations, the “cure” is, in so many way, proving worse than the disease. In that respect I’m in company with some pretty distinguished thinkers from all areas of the political spectrum, including a number of distinguished scientists. However, few people seem willing or able to hear what such objectors have to say. The interview below is an especially articulate and scientifically informed statement of scepticism informed by serious scientific thinking.
Some questions that occur to me as possible self-criticism are these: Is a Christian wrong even to think like this, and if so where does the error lie? Am I just using this issue to justify my natural inclination towards being a contrarian? Or am I merely the Victor Meldrew of Readers in Truro Diocese? Whatever I might think are truthful answers to those questions, I am certain of this —that the forces surrounding this event are extraordinarily potent, and are operating on spiritual levels as well as via physical events, to do what the scriptures tell us is the work of Satan: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The interview offers an entirely secular explanation of just about all the issues that lead me to object. A friend alerted me to it, and my choice has nothing to do with political allegiances. (I support Spiked magazine financially — also many others, politically opposed to one another, including The Guardian and The Salisbury Review. I want to know what people think.) It is simply that I have not come across a more lucid interrogation not only of the policies adopted, but of the presuppositions that have given rise to them. It is especially good at identifying the culture of compulsion and of fear that causes and feeds off this terrible mess.
Culture of fear! What is the most frequent command in the Bible? “Do not be afraid”. (There are plenty of readily available sources that enumerate all the appearances of those words and close equivalents.) It might be spoken by a prophet, by one of the Apostles, or by Jesus himself. It speaks of confidence in the love of God.
Here is a worthwhile aperitif for the interview that follows:
Dr John Lee’s Wikipedia page:
You’ll see that he’s a patron of Humanists UK, and he signed that famous public letter objecting to the visit to the UK of Pope Benedict, back in 2010. So I’m not an uncritical fan.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/15/harsh-judgments-on-pope-religion That’s a very interesting page, and cogent to arguments I have made in Solomon’s Portico and elsewhere that The Guardian is the most fundamentally anti-Christian of all our mainstream newspapers.
And here’s the interview:
I hope you all are keeping well; and I pray for us all, for our churches and our nation.
Warm good wishes,