Fleeing coronavirus and finding our mortality

A tourist dons both a Carnevale mask and a protective face mask as he visits St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, on Feb. 25, 2020.  (AP Photo/Renata Brito)

By Tara Isabella

What follows is an excerpt from her column for Religion News Service.

Our reaction to the coronavirus threat at the personal level — our desire to stockpile hundreds of dollars’ worth of hand sanitizer (less effective than soap and water), or to leave places where there is no reported threat — is also a statement about our need for control: our bodies, our world.

That’s what makes the mere possibility of sickness and death that now dominates our news cycle so strange: It reveals precisely how incorporeal, and disengaged, our daily lives tend to be. It’s something we liturgical Christians feel fleetingly as the ashes are pressed onto our foreheads once a year, a wobbly kneed quickening in the face of mortality that vanishes almost as soon as we totter back out through the church doors.

The statements about mortality we make on Ash Wednesday (and, indeed, through Lent) are only shocking because they have virtually vanished from the rest of our cultural consciousness. We forget that we are mortal bodies — indeed, that we are mere bodies at all: that our flesh is not something, through judicious diet and detox teas and expensive exercise classes, that exists purely under our own willed jurisdiction.

…That the Christian faith carries with it not simply an acknowledgment of the inevitability of death but also the promise of a bodily resurrection [is] all the more astounding and all the more seemingly out of step with an era in which our bodies are sacrosanct and in which sickness is seen as such an alien part of the human condition.

Read entire RNS piece HERE

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