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Month: <span>April 2020</span>

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Is It Ethically Defensible for the Church to Suspend Public Masses?

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.

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Information Can Do What Lockdowns Can’t

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.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood despite COVID-19

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.

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Lockdowns Don’t Work

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.

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What Economic Models Can and Can’t Tell Us

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.

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What Do Christians Do in a Plague?

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.

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The Triduum and Easter Joy

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.

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Trump Administration Fights the Establishment Clause Virus, Too

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.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic: What Do and Don’t We Know

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.

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