It’s Gonna Take A Lot More Than A Quarantine to Spark a Great Awakening

That’s my opinion, at least.

I know corona-mania is making people think about things that may not normally be at the forefront of their mind, but I’m not sure I buy this Wall Street Journal piece, “A Coronavirus Great Awakening“:

Could a plague of biblical proportions be America’s best hope for religious revival? As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, there is reason to think so.

Three-quarters of a century has dimmed the memory of that gruesome conflict and its terrible consequences: tens of millions killed, great cities bombed to rubble, Europe and Asia stricken by hunger and poverty. Those who survived the war had to grapple with the kinds of profound questions that only arise in the aftermath of calamity. Gazing at the ruins from his window at Cambridge University, British historian Herbert Butterfield chose to make sense of it by turning to the Hebrew Bible.

“The power of the Old Testament teaching on history—perhaps the point at which the ancient Jews were most original, breaking away from the religious thought of the other peoples around them—lay precisely in the region of truths which sprang from a reflection on catastrophe and cataclysm,” Butterfield wrote in “Christianity and History” (1949). “It is almost impossible properly to appreciate the higher developments in the historical reflection of the Old Testament except in another age which has experienced (or has found itself confronted with) colossal cataclysm.”

Americans, chastened by the horrors of war, turned to faith in search of truth and meaning. In the late 1940s, Gallup surveys showed more than three-quarters of Americans were members of a house of worship, compared with about half today. Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Some would later call this a Third Great Awakening.

Today the world faces another moment of cataclysm. Though less devastating than World War II, the pandemic has remade everyday life and wrecked the global economy in a way that feels apocalyptic.

I agree that corona-mania is uncharted territory for many born post-World War II. . . but comparing the coronavirus to World War II is a bit much. I’m taking it pretty seriously, but even I can see that this isn’t as deadly as global warfare.

Maybe it’s not as deadly because so many people in so many nations are taking such serious precautions, but still: the comparison is a bit much.

And further–I don’t see the economic downturn reaching Great Depression depths just now. Maybe it will eventually–God forbid!–but it really isn’t there now.

The experience is new and disorienting. Life had been deceptively easy until now. Our ancestors’ lives, by contrast, were guaranteed to be short and painful. The lucky ones survived birth. The luckier ones made it past childhood. Only in the past 200 years has humanity truly taken off. We now float through an anomalous world of air conditioning, 911 call centers, acetaminophen and pocket-size computers containing nearly the sum of human knowledge. We reduced nature to “the shackled form of a conquered monster,” as Joseph Conrad once put it, and took control of our fate. God became irrelevant.

Who will save us now that the monster has broken free?

“Men may live to a great age in days of comparative quietness and peaceful progress, without ever having come to grips with the universe, without ever vividly realising the problems and the paradoxes with which human history so often confronts us,” Butterfield wrote. “We of the twentieth century have been particularly spoiled; for the men of the Old Testament, the ancient Greeks and all our ancestors down to the seventeenth century betray in their philosophy and their outlook a terrible awareness of the chanciness of human life, and the precarious nature of man’s existence in this risky universe.”

This is fair, to be sure. In fact, I agree with it. We have had it so easy these past 60 or so years. Ridiculously easy. In fact, this material abundance is a complete and utter historical anomaly.

However, tons of us have been aware of how anomalous this is, and how fragile, for years. This is really only highly disorienting to total head-in-the-sand bugmen. The rest of us, with any kind of sense of history, knew that a crisis of this proportion would happen eventually.

The past four years have been some of the most contentious and embarrassing in American history. Squabbling over trivialities has left the public frantic and divided, oblivious to the transcendent. But the pandemic has humbled the country and opened millions of eyes to this risky universe once more.

“Sheer grimness of suffering brings men sometimes into a profounder understanding of human destiny,” Butterfield wrote. Sometimes “it is only by a cataclysm,” he continued, “that man can make his escape from the net which he has taken so much trouble to weave around himself.”

For societies founded on the biblical tradition, cataclysms need not mark the end. They are a call for repentance and revival. As the coronavirus pandemic subjects U.S. hospitals to a fearsome test, Americans can find solace in the same place that Butterfield did. Great struggle can produce great clarity.

“The ancient Hebrews, by virtue of inner resources and unparalleled leadership, turned their tragedy, turned their very helplessness, into one of the half-dozen creative moments in world history,” Butterfield wrote. “It would seem that one of the clearest and most concrete of the facts of history is the fact that men of spiritual resources may not only redeem catastrophe, but turn it into a grand creative moment.”

Could a rogue virus lead to a grand creative moment in America’s history? Will Americans, shaken by the reality of a risky universe, rediscover the God who proclaimed himself sovereign over every catastrophe?

It’s interesting that this article focuses on the “Hebrew” Bible, aka the Old Testament to us Christians. In fact, this article mentions the ancient Hebrews a lot, and even the ancient Greeks, but doesn’t mention Jesus Christ once. Very telling and likely not coincidental.

Also: humanity has only “taken off” the past 200 years? No, humanity was doing amazing things the past 4,000. If you mean humanity has gotten really secular the last 200 years, I’ll agree with you . . . yes, lifespans and material possessions have increased since then, but that discounts all other achievements in a pretty offhand way.

They’re expecting, what, a great awakening based on the Torah and the Torah alone? None of America’s spiritual awakenings have been anything but Christian.

Anyway, it’s not just a sense of history that helps many of us whether storms like this, but a religious grounding as well. It’s a bit circular, I know, to say that–“Only those of us already turned toward God will be able to turn to God to get through crises”–but coronavirus doesn’t seem to have impacted life other than being really inconvenient for most for me to see it leading to mass repentance.

I wish it would lead to mass repentance, but things really aren’t that bad yet. America was arguably “founded on the Biblical tradition”–something I don’t personally agree with; I find it founded more on Masonic and Gnostic tradition; but accepting this for the sake of argument . . . America is by and large biblically illiterate. It’d take something really bad or hard for the United States of America in the 21st century to turn to the Lord.

And honestly, as much as I think national repentance would do us good . . . I’d much rather not have to have a massive global catastrophe to get us there.

I’d love for this to spark another Great Awakening. I’d love to be wrong, but I don’t see this virus being the catalyst.

But you never know. And yes, I know I’m hedging my bets, but I’m an optimistic cynic. That’s what I do.


I was stuck up late the last two nights because I couldn’t put this down.”

26 comments

  1. Alexander

    I see the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on the good life.

    Foe example I teach adult students remotely. Where I live has had the schools closed down weeks ago and the last week my province ordered a shut down of all non essential business.

    My adult students have told me working from home has made them more productive.

    Something that isn’t lost on businessmen. They’ll downsize their commerical/industrial places as they encourage non essential people to work from home.

    Also parents are finding out they’re pretty good teachers once they get their hands on resources and online learning is just as effective as in class.

    in fact the provincial govt has cancelled all the exams.

    Again the experience won’t be lost on parents either.
    So we’re seeing God slow walk us to the Great awakening.
    There are some reforms like urbanism (aka @wrathofgnon), return of localism (Nicholas Nassim Taleb) and return to traditionalism (secular and religious) we need to work through

    Liked by 1 person

      • Alexander

        I’m more optimistic. The shock has given everyone skin in the game thus a stake as to what we do afterwards.

        Here’s another underscoring skin in the game:

        the world economy is as dependent on the self employed as outsourced manufacturing.

        The crisis has clearly unserscored the importance of the self employed .

        Spain, Canafa and Singapore I was sttuck by the self employed have been overlooked and many govts have had to rectify.

        So I do think there’s enough critical mass to move the needle

        xavier

        Liked by 1 person

      • I certainly hope so. I see lots of post-9/11 “temporary” governmental measures, aka power grabs, in our future. But then again, maybe so many people were burned by that experience to make a difference. I sure hope so.

        Like

  2. It’s really startling to me, we are just starting to come out of the greatest epidemic America has ever seen, the opioid epidemic. It’s almost completely invisible, but we lost more people in just one year than in the entirety of the Vietnam War. The life expectancy of Americans actually had to be set back four years in a row, to reflect the decline, the number of deaths among mostly younger people. That didn’t even happen during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. That’s just the number of deaths, the impact on families, the economy, entire communities is just incredible. Some rural places in the US are just wastelands and others are war zones as meth and heroin have become the only economic stimulus available.

    Along comes corona virus and I’m just like, wut? Now we suddenly care about epidemics and people dying?? I’m trying to take this seriously, I’m trying to isolate, I’m trying to trust that the people running computer models and making dire predictions know what they’re talking about, but the math, the numbers just aren’t adding up.

    But I’d love to see a Great Awakening, a revival, heck even just a few more people finding the Lord! Regardless, I know He has a plan, that He works all things for good, so I’m trying to be positive, to welcome what ever comes with some eager expectancy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lots of this doesn’t add up to me either, and I don’t trust the official story one bit. But when it comes to the health of my family and myself, I do t want to risk it.

      See how they get you?

      It feels like a power grab, though the disease’s rapid spread is what gives me pause. Better safe than sorry, but like 9/11, I have a suspicion that these “temporary emergency measures” will still be with us 30 years from now.

      As far as the opioid crisis goes, you answered your own question: it’s affecting predominately rural America, which is also predominately white. Therefore, to the coastal powers that be, it’s not a problem!

      I do hope there’s a Great Awakening. I’m just not counting on THIS being enough to spark it. I’d love to be wrong though.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The current coronavirus is nefarius because of how differently individuals respond to it. Some people get over it like they get over a cold, whereas others suffer a hyperimmune response that permanently damages their organs.
      It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the powers that be use the coronavirus as a form of eugenics and only pretend to be concerned on the mainstream news.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s the thing. Coronavirus has myriad symptoms, and it seems that many different types of comorbidity play into the deaths we’re seeing as well. Rumors are also that it can make men infertile, which tracks with your eugenics idea.

        Nothing surprises me anymore.

        Like

  3. If this virus were some form of eugenics, i wonder why it seems to have higher morbidity in the elder populations with no correlation to ethnicity. Is there something I’m missing?

    Also, why would this situation be cause for mass repentance? Is this an act of God? If so, how does that play a role in the eugenic argument? If not, how did this happen without God?

    Liked by 1 person

      • I lost my grandfather to covid 19 on Saturday morning. It was a bad death. And no one can go to the funeral. Worse yet, no one can visit my grandmother who is still in the nursing home they lived in together. She has to process a 67 year long marriage ending tragically….alone. The funeral will be live streamed but no one can physically be there. Now we are all waiting to see if my grandma develops symptoms.

        I see this terrible virus as a process of evolution and classic epidemiology. I don’t see it making any sense, or any guiding force using it as some kind of punishment or form of control. I just haven’t seen evidence of that. If I were shown evidence otherwise, I’d be open to changing my mind!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m very sorry to hear about your grandfather. That’s awful, and the sooner this virus can go away the better.

        Live-streaming a funeral is better than nothing, but that is still difficult.

        I also don’t see any guiding force using this virus as punishment or a form of control. I didn’t get into it in this post, but I’m on record elsewhere saying that I DO NOT think coronavirus is some sort of divine punishment or act of God. Personally, I think it was cooked up in a lab somewhere, somebody screwed up, and it got loose.

        Like

      • Thanks friend. And you’re right, the live streaming is better than nothing. I just hope my grandma is okay. I lost my other grandpa in November to hypothermia (ugh, that was another awful death). We were gonna have a party-memorial (he didn’t want a funeral) in April but that’s definitely not happening now. Such weird times…..

        Are you still working?? I am. It’s kind of nice to have some normalcy in routine to be at work, even though the vibe is super stressful. And I feel incredibly grateful to even be getting a paycheck.

        I don’t know if this will alleviate any concern, but what I’m reading about the genomics of this virus is that it is not engineered. But again, if there is compelling evidence from neutral parties stating otherwise, I’m open to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Still working, doing it from home the last few weeks and living it. It’ll be VERY difficult to go back to the office.

        And my conjecture about the origins of coronavirus is pure baseless speculation, so I’ll take your word much more seriously than you should take mine.

        Like

      • She’s using her dead grandfather to lower our spiritual guard. I pity her and I pray for deliverance for all of us, but what she’s doing is something that I decided against posting about back when you created the OP.

        “Look at all of these dead and dying people; not even my own family is safe! That’s how you know that God isn’t real. But evolution is real, and it selects against fundies who resort to prayer instead of phrmaceuticals and vaccines.” *tips fedora*

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s never a vibe that you immediately pick up, because you first have to go down that road for yourself. But as you are our gracious host:

        O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven—especially me, the chief among sinners.

        Amen.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous,

      One researcher modified a coronavirus from bats to show that it could potentially leap to humans without an intermediate host, so you are correct to suggest that it is too early to point fingers:

      https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502?archived_content=9BmGYHLCH6vLGNdd9YzYFAqV8S3Xw3L5

      But if you want us to pity your family, then don’t peddle your atheism. Don’t act like you aren’t, and don’t act like you don’t know why.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hans,

    I don’t feel the need to prove atheism….it’s just the absence of belief. As such, I don’t know there is no God or gods. I simply do not see evidence for it, that’s all. I ask questions here because you guys are all very confident in your beliefs; I figure why would I ask these questions to people who share the same opinion of me….I have no chance at getting closer to the truth if I live in an echo chamber.

    With that said, my motives for being here do not entail touting anything -good or bad- to change your mind. I’ll continue to share my questions and read your answers. Or you can choose not to engage, whatever works for you!

    And thanks to Alexander for the support. I’m not here to troll! I swearzzzzz

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not questioning anyone’s motives, but I’m also not in the game of apologetics or converting people. 1) I’m no good at it, and 2) differing definitions of “evidence” between believers and non-believers. I know I’m being presumptuous, but I don’t think any evidence I could proffer would even be *considered* “evidence” by you, leaving aside whether the evidence actually moved the needle for you.

      And that’s fine. I don’t think you really want to be convinced, which is also fine. If I am incorrect, I would then say that I’m the wrong guy to be doing any convincing. It’s not my forte. I could tell you why I believe, but I’m 99.9% certain it will make no difference whatsoever. I know you’re not trolling, and I am very sorry to hear about your grandfather, but I’m not into this debate because like I said it’s not my strong suit and I have no patience for it anymore.

      Not to blame YOU, AA. I’ve just been burned by too many other people who come at me feigning good faith only to turn around and make nasty, snarky “gotcha” comments. Which you haven’t; I’m just explaining myself here.

      Like

      • Sorry for the delayed reply!

        I totally get what you’re saying. And it’s a pretty crappy (but common) thing for people to try to trick others into seeing their point. Sometimes I ask questions that definitely look like set ups, and it’s especially hard to convey that’s NOT my intention when it comes to religious-based questions cuz uh, you already know my position. So I guess it’s a matter of trust in knowing my intention isn’t to come here and eff with people’s minds. I genuinely want to hear different perspectives; you and your readers have very different opinions than I do on most (but not all) things you guys have talked about. And like I’ve said before, I would rather hear opposing viewpoints from other smart people like you guys than to just live in my own progressive leftist bubble.

        Anyways, I appreciate your reply. See ya on another thread, I’m sure!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nothing to apologize for. And I had a feeling your intention wasn’t to play “Gotcha!” Nothing in any of your comments has given me that impression! I just don’t do the apologetics thing because I’m no good at it.

        Like

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