Coronavirus Diary: April 9, 2020

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The quarantine continues here in central Pennsylvania. There have been 88 cases and 2 deaths in my county. We continue to take seriously the call to social distance. I have a couch in my garage where I spend a couple of hours a day reading and waving to neighbors as they walk by. The other day a couple of neighbors walked up the driveway and we talked about the 1918 influenza epidemic while standing six feet apart. I have been using the app Marco Polo to stay connected with my extended family, especially my brother in North Carolina. My daughters don’t like this app because there is no time limit on the videos one can produce. Kids these days…

The college has furloughed several employees and some of my students are having a hard time keeping-up with online work because of difficult situations at home. Thankfully, we in the Fea household are OK and have nothing to complain about. Joy has been the hero of the family–making the occasional run to the grocery store (now wearing a mask) and generally making sure we remember to wash our hands and cough into our elbows. She is using ZOOM to offer students career counseling and check-in with Messiah College interns. I am driving everyone crazy with my social distancing obsessions and regular news updates about coronavirus. Ally and Caroline are tolerating my regular visits to their rooms to see “what’s going on.“

Most of my work takes place in my basement study–a room I am now calling “the bunker.” I continue to teach my Created and Called for Community course online. Since we moved online we have discussed Exodus 19-20, Matthew 5-7, Acts 1-4, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed , Howard Bender’s “The Anabaptist Vision,” and Albert Schweitzer’s “I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor.” Because Created and Called for Community is a general education course, I thought there wouldn’t be a lot at stake for students if I never figured out how to deliver it effectively in an online format. Some of the articles I read on the coronavirus shift to online education advised teachers to devote the most prep time and attention to upper-division courses in the major, especially courses devoted to professional training. But as the semester has progressed, I have come to realize that EVERYTHING is at stake in the way we respond to the questions brought to light by our readings in Created and Called for Community, especially in this time of crisis. What does it mean to be created in the image of God? What does it mean to exercise creativity in times of difficulty? What does it mean to live in community and what does “community” even mean in a time like this? What are we called to do in the midst of the current pandemic?  I have been working on a short essay about this. Stay tuned.

On the non-teaching work front, it has been hard to find a rhythm. I have a book on the American Revolution in the works and hope to pick-up regular writing on that project once I find my groove. (Nearly all of the research is complete). I am still trying to figure out how to move forward with the podcast now that I no longer have access to a studio.  I think we are getting close to a solution and we should be recording episodes again soon. In the meantime, please consider getting caught-up on past episodes.

The blog is the easiest thing to keep-up with right now. I continue to press Trump on what I believe to be his utter failure to lead the country during this moment. The critics of my work seem to be growing. Some are getting tired of all the negative posts about the president and the court evangelicals. The phrase “Trump Derangement Syndrome” seems to come up a lot more lately in the e-mails and social media messages I receive. One Twitter pundit even suggested that I have wasted three years of my “mental life” on Trump. Fair enough. We all make our choices. But as a citizen of this republic and as a Christian who believes the church has a responsibility to speak truth to power, I will continue to press on in what I believe is useful work in these times. For those who don’t like what I am doing, feel free to stop reading. Complaints are also welcome, but I can’t promise a response. 🙂

Yesterday I had a zoom interview with a Swiss journalist working on a story about evangelicals and Trump. He asked me what I thought evangelical ministers would preach about on Sunday. I told him they will preach about the Christian hope made possible by the Resurrection. We need this message now more than ever. I have been reading N.T. Wright’s massive tome, The Resurrection of the Son of God. It is a tough read, especially for someone who is not overly familiar with the field of biblical scholarship. But it has also been good for my mind and soul. I would blog about it here, but I am not sure I can do Wright’s argument justice.

Readership of this blog and listeners to the podcast have been at record highs.  Thanks again for all your support and encouragement.  Please stay safe and take care of your neighbors.

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