“Which of your fellow parishioners, Mr. Reno, are you willing to expose to the virus?”

church-1515456_960_720

R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things magazine, recently wrote a piece titled “Keep the Churches Open.” Here is the first sentence: “Cancelling church services is the wrong response to the coronavirus pandemic.” Read it here.

Historian and cultural critic Eric Miller recently e-mailed me with this response to Reno’s piece: “Which of your fellow parishioners, Mr. Reno, are you willing to expose to the virus?  Could you tell us their names?  Will you be sure to let their families know? “

Fans of the poet Wendell Berry will recognize Miller’s words:

Questionnaire

By Wendell Berry

1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

Eric also recently called my attention to John Ganz‘s recent piece at The New Republic:

Again and again conservative intellectuals have fastened themselves like barnacles onto demagogic movements such as the ones led by McCarthy and Trump; if they don’t they risk cutting themselves off from mass politics entirely. That specter always means doom for right-wing intellectuals, wince it effectively dispels what small amount of influence they can have, as well as their subscribers, viewers, and donors.  

Law professor John Inazu, author of Confident Pluralism: Suriving and Thriving Through Deep Difference (University of Chicago Press, 2016), has also criticized Reno’s piece:

Please stay home this Sunday. The churches are working overtime to help you stay connected to God and each other in these troubled times.