A reader wonders about COVID and Taylor Marshall

She writes:

I have a question. A friend of mine is terrified by Taylor Marshall’s latest video. It’s about how the Church will change after COVID-19. Anyway, my friend is saying that we don’t need to bury our heads in the sand. I’m thinking that we need to trust God and not dwell on all of the “what-ifs” (especially from Taylor Marshall). I know that the Bible says that we need to be aware about the signs of the end. What does that mean? I doubt that we should seek out “secret” information to the point that we lose our peace. But I don’t want to bury my head either. So, what is our responsibility in “being aware” of the signs? Thank you!

Ignore Marshall. This is a matter of science, nothing more. The virus does not care about our piety. It is transmitted by certain behaviors. Do those behaviors and you are at higher risk of infection and of infecting others. Avoid them and you are at lower and no risk. If you don’t want to get sick or, worse, kill somebody else, you do what the competent health authorities say to do. If you don’t care about other people and think only of yourself, you act and talk like Taylor Marshall and the rest of the crowd screaming at bishops to endanger the vulnerable for the sake of their personal piety.

There is no conspiracy. There’s just the virus. It imposes on us what we need to do if we are to love our neighbor and not kill him. The bishops are, thank God, listening to competent science for the most part and not listening to paranoids like Marshall and the minority of Catholics supping on conspiracy theories.

It will take us a while to get through this. Until there is a vaccine, the virus will be with us. When they reopen, churches will still need social distancing, masks, contact tracing, limited attendance and things like communion in the hand to limit (though it will not eliminate) risk of exposure. All of this is common sense and necessary to reduce the spread of infection. In some cases, perhaps most, such measures may not work and it will be necessary to close again. We’ll find out. Chances of a second wave are high. If that happens, it does not prove the “failure” of the science, nor that Christians are being picked on. It just means that this is trial and error and re-opening was a bad idea. None of it is a plot against the Church. People who say this are thinking exclusively of themselves and not of other people. Ignore them. They live in paranoid fear, not in the real world of epidemiology and actual human beings who will die from this disease.

When we get a vaccine and/or cure and the risk is back to acceptable levels we can resume normal behavior.

Meanwhile, the lies and conspiracy theories Marshall and his crowd spread are a plague on the Church as bad as COVID.

Here’s a positive thing we can do: offer up the minor suffering of having to wear masks and (above all) of not being able to go to Mass. Offer it up for the years-long compulsory fast from the Eucharist that many people in the Amazon Basin have to endure.

The reason for the Amazon Synod that Marshall and his ilk condemned as blasphemous was precisely that Amazonian Catholics have had to endure for decades what selfish Reactionaries like Marshall have had to endure for a couple of months. The point of the synod was to try to find some way to alleviate that lack of access to the sacraments. Devout Catholics from the Amazon came seeking the sacraments and people to provide them and, for their troubles, were insulted as “pagan idolators” by the likes of selfish, rich, privileged whites like Marshall.

Instead of spitting in the faces of our brothers and sisters in the Amazon, one very good use we can make of our small, temporary fast from access to the Eucharist (done in order to keep the vulnerable safe, not as a Secret Plot by Evil Bishops) is to offer up this small sacrifice in union with Christ and ask the Father to send servants out into the field so that these children of God may also enjoy access to the Eucharist and other sacraments as we do. This is infinitely more pleasing to God than foolish conspiracy theories and petty complaints about being inconvenienced.

In addition, of course, we can pray and make reparation for the sins and outrages committed against God, Our Lady of the Amazon, and her good children in the Amazon Basin by misguided people who labeled the innocent “pagan idolators” and insulted the Holy Father as an enemy of the Faith.

For those unfamiliar with the Saga of the Amazon Synod, I strongly recommend reading this little series:

So What’s the Deal with the Amazon Synod?

The Amazon Synod: Fortress Katolicus vs. the Church’s Mission

Amazon Synod: On Images, Symbols, and Polyvalence

Amazon Synod: Of Indefectibility, Infallibility, Prudence, and Panic

Amazon Synod: Of Gnats and Camels


7 Responses

  1. That’s pretty insightful. I think its interesting the way a religious practice becomes an exercise in actively and deliberately developing one’s empathy and solidarity with those who are less fortunate. Its also very Catholic; it reminds me of the conversation we had regarding the Catholic concept of fasting.

  2. One of your best columns, Mark.

    In other news, I read this morning that god fearin’ South Carolina is experiencing a new spike in virus cases. The gummint officials are saying “well, we probably opened too early, but there is money to be made. So all of that pro-life stuff that we claim to believe can actually be written on the back of the badge of a Minneapolis police officer.”*

    *this may not be an exact quote.

  3. Just FYI, we may not ever have an effective vaccine against COVID-19. It may turn out that COVID-19 mutates quickly enough that new vaccines are needed every year, like the flu. And like the flu, the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine in any given year may be hit-or-miss.

    1. @joel – I have always wondered about this. I had heard that ‘Corona viruses’ was a type of virus that included the ‘common cold.’ So far as I know, no one has found a vaccine against colds – perhaps because it wasn’t worth trying against something relatively mild, I don’t know. But it makes me wonder – is a vaccine even a reasonable possibility?

  4. @joel – just checking at the Source of All Truth (wikipedia 🙂 ). This entry says:

    There are as yet no vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.

    (and it does say that some – though not all – colds are due to Coroviruses.

    For what it’s worth!

    1. Obligatory xkcd or two.

      Most colds are caused by rhinoviruses, however. Those unencapsulated viruses are resistant to hand washing per se, but washing does remove the biological residue in which the virus thrives.

      Vaccination against common cold would be ineffective because of the sheer number of viruses that cause it, and the relatively benign nature of the illness makes it a matter of no urgency.
      Also, vaccines are not totally harmless, so for little to no perceived benefit they pose disproportionate risk.

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