As much as I would like to believe that the COVID-19 crisis will produce a future where evidence-based policies triumph over other forms of governance, the sad reality is that the COVID-19 crisis will leave us in a much more authoritarian Venezuela.
Month: April 2020
One can certainly debate the scientific warrant of a quarantine, its effectiveness in a given region or country, its proportionate value in the face of its economic consequences, and its psychological effects on citizens. Still, in principle, the state may legitimately request Catholic Christians to undertake such a quarantine, in accord with the natural law. There is nothing illegitimate about such a request, if it falls within certain parameters of temporary and just use, nor is it historically unprecedented.
In the effort to combat COVID-19, making the public aware about the truth of the pandemic has been more effective than government lockdowns. China’s suppression of information, the WHO’s dilly-dallying with declaring a pandemic, and President Trump’s refusal to take COVID seriously enough from an early date all cost lives. Once Americans understood the gravity of the problem, they began social distancing on their own, before government-mandated lockdowns began. That has been the most effective measure in controlling the virus’s spread.
Dr. Stephen Levine highlights biological, social, and psychological (mental health) risks in medically “transitioning.” Without explaining these risks and determining that the patient fully understands them, a medical practitioner has failed to obtain informed consent—if such consent is even possible. The second of two essays.
Assisting a gender dysphoric patient in “transitioning” without laying out the full panoply of medical, psychological, and social consequences violates the physician’s ethical obligation to obtain truly informed consent. The first of two essays.
Chief Justice John Roberts complained five years ago, in the Obergefell marriage case, of some of his colleagues’ “extravagant conception of judicial supremacy.” To understand how such a conception has come to grip the judicial mind, studies of some of the Supreme Court’s most notable cases make for instructive reading.
As we accept the new normal—for however long this might last—maybe we can look to our past and reclaim our first communities, our neighborhoods, by reaching out to those nearest our quarantine bases. Hopefully we will find that, when we can finally resume life as we knew it, we will have more community, not less, richer connection, not poorer.
The use of fetal tissue from aborted human beings in medical research predicates the health of some on the deliberate destruction of the lives and health of others. That predication is incompatible with the fundamental commitments of medicine. In the face of this global crisis, we must hold to our ethical principles more firmly than ever.
Many policies provide public-health benefits in pandemics, such as making facemasks mandatory, cancelling school, and banning large assemblies and long-distance travel. But ordering people to cower in their homes, harassing people for having playdates in the park, and ordering small businesses to close regardless of their hygienic procedures has no demonstrated effectiveness.
The question is not whether the analysis of the experts, the prudence of the politicians, or the commonsense wisdom of the public should have the most sway. In a free society, each of us must discharge the functions of our orders and offices well.
Like their forebears, those who favor market economies need to recalibrate their arguments to address new challenges—including those posed by China.
While you’re stuck at home, why not elevate your viewing with some classic films from the golden age of American filmmaking?
We signed up to be doctors, but now we are sent into the battlefield. This means that young doctors like me need to grow in the virtues essential to all physicians, especially fortitude and prudence.
What is the value of human companionship or gathering together on Easter? What is the value of knowing that your elderly parents are safe from a highly infectious disease? There is no way to put either one into epidemiological or economic models. The debate between those insisting we need to follow the advice of epidemiologists and those insisting we ought to prioritize the economic effects of that advice may actually be a proxy war about what constitute the most important things in a society.
The Passover Haggadah reminds Jews and Christians that G-d’s promise of redemption was perennial, with elements of painful oppression and beatific salvation. Egypt is not a relic of ancient history, but a transhistorical reality that we are encountering again in COVID-19.
Shutting down the questions of Christian nationalists comes from a faith tradition of its own, a faith in collective humanity, international travel, and free exchange. Time will tell whether such a faith can remain vibrant.
I am astonished by how many people think a deadly pandemic is the right time to foment the spirit of rebellion and pick a fight with the government over what many will inevitably see as our right to infect others. That’s what it looks like to our neighbors. They do not see this as a testimony of our unshakable faith, but as evidence of callous unconcern for their lives and the lives of the police, grocery workers, mailmen, health workers, and garbage men with whom we all interact.
My prayer for all of you—for all of us—is that God would not only intervene dramatically to kill this virus, but also that, in the course of doing so, God might strengthen us in our faith and trust, and in our understanding of our ultimate dependence on Him for all of life.
We Christians must suffer through our Lents, however short or long they are. Sometimes they can be stormy seasons, or ages spent in empty wastes. But we are Easter people, with our faces turned toward the springtime sun that we love, and toward the Son who taught us how to love.
Easter is the victory of life over death, our deliverance and liberation in the resurrection of God’s Son. But if our Easter joy this year is mixed with a taste of Good Friday’s myrrh and loss, and a hunger for the Eucharist we can’t satisfy, we should accept it as a gift. It’s a reminder of the precious things we too easily take for granted.
We must indeed make policies and trade-offs in peace or war, sickness or health. But whatever goes into our policymaking, and however many comfortable years we hope to eke out by human interventions, we must remain focused on the true hope of everlasting life.
When the Trump administration’s clarifying guidelines go to court, they not only should be upheld. One hopes, and even dares to expect, that the compelling circumstances of this public benefit program will bring forth a needed clarification of Establishment Clause law, one which finally buries the impetus behind any confusion surrounding the CARES Act and religious eligibility.
This is a fundamental human experience that we're having. Plagues have been described for a very long time. It's just that we ourselves are not used to having it. I would happily stay at home for three months if it meant that my neighbors are not going to die.
This interview is adapted from the Webinar conversation “Pandemic! What Do and Don’t We Know? Robert P. George in Conversation with Nicholas A. Christakis.”
As we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, we have daily opportunities to make meaningful impacts on each other and on our communities. We have come together in a new way, and I suspect this will ultimately reshape the future landscapes of our medical practice and our health-care system.
In the next few weeks, as the pandemic perhaps reaches its zenith, we will have the opportunity to decide once again what sort of society we intend to be. We should eschew all invidious discrimination and recommit ourselves to treating all who are ill as bearers of profound, inherent, and equal worth and dignity.