Monday, November 30, 2020

COVID-19: My Little Library Of Statistics And Analysis

For months now, I have been slowly building a document of COVID-19 resources when I run across things that catch my eye: a post on social media that I wanted to check;  an intriguing news story floating through my Flipboard feed; friends who work in the medical field post heart-breaking updates on their work in hospitals, only to be dismissed as if they must be lying. Sometimes I read articles (rightly) criticizing the inconsistency of public health organizations over time, or the words vs. the actions of politicians who said one thing and did another. Sometimes I simply wanted to know more about how to first re-open and then keep open our church in a way that offers a reasonably safe and accommodating space.

Whatever the reason, I built this document over time. It represents a pursuit of knowledge; I am well aware it's not the end of it! And as serious as I believe the coronavirus to be (as you will see), I’m not curled up in a ball quivering in fear, as anyone who knows me can attest. I assume I will get it at some point (as most of us will); I assume I will be like most people in my demographic, and when I do get it, it will be somewhere on a spectrum short of fatal, and likely relatively mild, though it's definitely unpredictable. [1] So that’s not why I compile stuff like this. I just want to know what’s true about the world. 

Oh, and one other note. 

I am interested in the stats and the science for the purposes of this post, so I don' have anything about politics or freedoms or the constitution here. Those are important topics for a different time. They just aren't my focus here. You can write that one :)

At to the science, it has obviously and publicly evolved over time around the entire world. It’s frustrating, and it can understandably make us leery of trusting authoritative voices, but it’s how science works. It's not a sign of a nefarious plot. I am far more confident in the science now than I was six months ago, for sure. I’m also sure three months from now doctors and epidemiologists will know even more, and will have pivoted yet again in some way.  

With that in mind, if you want to add to the discussion by agreeing or disagreeing - and I would like you to add to this, because I want to pursue truth as I build this database -  post links and offer thoughtful insights from your research and experience. I don’t mind being thoughtfully challenged. I’m not a big fan of being called stupid or deceived or ‘sheeple.’ That line of discussion will not be pursued. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

An Election Day Prayer

God of Sovereignty, we believe there is no outcome we choose tomorrow that falls outside of your permissive will[1] (and perhaps your decretive will[2]). May this lead us to peace in the midst of an election storm. 


God of Freedom, we pray for the wisdom to follow the principles of your preceptive will[3] and vote such that we move our nation toward a land of spiritual, moral and relational plenty and not famine. 


God of Life, inspire all leaders we elect tomorrow at federal, state and local levels to value human life from the moment it begins until the moment it ends such that all people are given the opportunity for a flourishing life. May our leaders have the ability to “see” the unborn, the weak, the poor, the powerless, the oppressed, the overlooked, the overwhelmed, and the despairing, and may they have the wisdom to rally the nation to lift the imago dei who are floundering as a signpost that points toward the “life more abundant” that is offered in Christ (John 10:10). Position your church to be shining on the hill when that signpost points our way. (Matthew 5:14)


God of Love, inspire all of our leaders to guide us in attitude, action, word and deed to build communities grounded in the kind of love that echoes God’s love for the world: service, sacrifice, honor, commitment, generosity, humility, grace and truth that begins with “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and encompasses all. May we, your church, truly model what it means to love God and love our neighbor, and may that holy commitment be the conscience of the nation. 


God of Creation, guide our leaders to take care of your lovingly crafted creation that you declared to be ‘very good’, as so many ills in the world follow from soiling natural wealth you have given to us. Lead them to enact policies that steward your creation for our good and your glory. (Genesis 2:15)


God of Humanity, enable our leaders to recognize the imago dei, the image of God (Genesis 1:26), that which gives value, dignity and worth to every human being. Guide them to attitudes, words, and policies that show honor to your image wherever it is found, which is in everyone, with no exceptions. 


God of Justice, build those we elect such that the good, true, and noble in the world and in your Word seeps into their hearts and minds and compels them to seek justice. Your prophets remind us that God requires His people to do this (Micah 6:8); surely it is good advice for us all. When there are individuals or groups who have suffered from injustice, may our leaders work to right that which has been wrong, restore justice to those who have been wronged, and build systems that protect and promote the presence of justice in the world.


God of Mercy, your prophets remind us that mercy must come with justice (Micah 6:8), as the cross of Christ so prominently made clear (Psalm 85:10). May the hearts and minds of our those we elect lead them to the compassionate use of justice, seeking measures that stop both evil and the evildoer such that chaos of sin is minimized in the world, while moving us toward being a culture that values restoration and reconciliation whenever possible.


God of Peace, as we your people preach of the peace with God made possible to all through Christ (Romans 5:1), help our leaders to love all kinds of peace more than any kind of sword (Matthew 10:34), both literally and figuratively. 


God of Hope, inspire our leaders to enact policies that, while the church preaches Christ to make spiritually crooked paths straight (Luke 3:5-6), give hope to those who are hopeless, that give relief to those in oppression, that make a way for those who feel trapped. 


God of Grace, you have offered grace through Jesus in both this life and the next (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our political leaders cannot give an underserved mercy to souls, but they can give it in so many practical ways to the bodies of those who are lost, sick and dying. May it be another signpost. May we yet again be shiny,  illuminating the source of all grace.

God of Truth, inspire our leaders to love truth wherever they find it, and may that truth point them toward the One who is the Truth (John 14:6)

[1] God permits things to happen in a free world. 

[2] God decrees things to happen.

[3] Precept-ive, not perceptive. God reveals His will for the world through precepts, such as the 10 Commandments, or principles such as those found in the Sermon on the Mount.