For all of us, the pandemic has been a roller-coaster. Just when we start to think life might be returning to something like normal, there can be a sudden turn for the worse. The discovery of the omicron variant is a case in point. In Malawi, there are no confirmed cases of omicron at this point but, all of a sudden, the country is back on the “red list,” with all the complications that brings.
It is easy to get demoralised by such setbacks. There has been so much fear, uncertainty, loss, grief and anguish that we are tempted to lose heart. I for one have had my low moments during the pandemic even though, so far as I know, I have not actually been infected by the virus. One thing that has helped me to keep going is the privilege I have had of working with a group of people from all different parts of the world who have been searching for pathways of faith amidst the pandemic.
The results of their reflection have been published by Routledge this week under the title, Christianity and Covid-19: Pathways for Faith. We organised the wide variety of contributions under two headings – “Faith Making Sense of Suffering” and “Faith Taking Action.”
Experiences of suffering have always presented a sharp challenge to people of faith. The pandemic brings a new twist to a perennial question. So the book offers a fresh reading of biblical authors like Job and Habakkuk. It returns to thorny theological questions about the problem of evil. It even asks, who tweeted “mene mene tekel parsin?”
Faith also inspires action. So, several of our authors write about active responses to the pandemic that are inspired by faith. This brings several vulnerable groups into focus, exploring how the church’s ministry has made a difference. Another challenge is that of pastoral accompaniment at a time of social distance. And there is our responsibility to look beyond the human community to the whole creation.
As the pandemic raises many uncomfortable questions, this is a book that shows the relevance of the vision of faith. Full details at https://www.routledge.com/Christianity-and-COVID-19-Pathways-for-Faith/Kaunda-Longkumer-Ross-Mombo/p/book/9781032123455