Monday, April 27, 2020

First Things: Coronavirus Reality Check

(First Things) - Data are coming in, and their import is clear. The coronavirus pandemic is not and never was a threat to society. COVID-19 poses a danger to the elderly and the medically compromised. Otherwise, for most who present symptoms, it can be nasty and persistent, but is not life-threatening. A majority of those infected do not notice that they have the disease. Coronavirus presents us with a medical challenge, not a crisis. The crisis has been of our own making.

On March 16, Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London predicted a coronavirus death toll of more than two million in the United States alone. He arrived at this number by assuming that infection would be nearly universal and the fatality rate would be high—a terrifying prospect. The next day, Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis sifted through the data and predicted less widespread infection and a fatality rate of between 0.05 and 1.0 percent—not that different from the common flu. The coronavirus is not the common flu. It has different characteristics, afflicting the old more than the young, men more than women. Nevertheless, all data trends since mid-March show that Ferguson was fantastically wrong and Ioannidis was largely right about its mortal threat.

But Ferguson’s narrative has triumphed, helped by our incontinent and irresponsible media. A young doctor in Wuhan died—COVID-19 must be dangerous and deadly for everybody. Hospitals in Italy are overwhelmed—we are witnessing a pandemic of epic proportions. China succeeded with draconian methods of mass quarantine—these must be our only hope of protection against the coming disaster.

By the end of March, most of the United States had been locked down. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs. More than $6 trillion has been spent to save society from complete collapse. Relentless warnings have whipped the populace into frenzies of fear. All of this to contain a disease that, as far as we can tell at this point, is not significantly more fatal than the flu. Moreover, given how rapidly the coronavirus spreads, it seems likely that the radical and untested method of lockdown does little to control it.

In other words, the science increasingly shows that the measures we have taken in the last few weeks have been both harmful—with freedoms lost, money spent, livelihoods destroyed—and pointless.
This statement will provoke outrage. Most will insist that it is not true. But a study from the Oise region of France found an infection rate of 25 percent—which, if it is true for France as a whole, suggests that the virus fatality rate in that country (which is considered hard-hit) is 0.13 percent. Studies of Santa Clara and Los Angeles County likewise show rates of infection far higher than experts imagined possible, indicating fatality rates of 0.1-0.2 percent, again in line with Ioannidis’s analysis. A study of women at a New York hospital who gave birth during the pandemic, and a study of a homeless shelter in Boston, likewise point to a disease far more widespread than testing has identified—and therefore with a far lower fatality rate than previously thought.

Researchers reported that more than 30 percent of the densely populated town of Chelsea in the Boston area likely already had the virus. There the death toll has been significant, leading to higher fatality rates, though still within the range identified by Ioannidis. The same holds for studies done in Delaware and Miami, as well as Geneva, Switzerland.

In epidemiology, nothing is certain. The facts may change in the future. But as of now, this much is certain: Current data point to a disease that is far less deadly than was feared when our country hurled itself over the cliff of mass lockdown. The WHO was at that time issuing warnings that presumed a death rate 20-30 times higher than what now appears realistic.

We need fact-based policies. COVID-19 spreads rapidly, and any fast-spreading disease can strain medical resources as incidences rise. Long recovery times increase patient loads in hospitals. Careful planning and resource allocation are therefore essential. They were accomplished successfully in New York, much to the credit of medical professionals here. The American people need to be told of that success, which, given the density of New York, shows that we can and will succeed everywhere in our country.

We need to be told the truth about COVID-19’s effect. It is not a uniquely perilous disease; for people under 35, it may be less dangerous than the flu. We have every reason to take prudent measures to protect vulnerable people from the disease, but we cannot reasonably expect to contain the coronavirus. The high proportion of asymptomatic carriers defeats strategies of testing and tracing contacts. In all likelihood, it also defeats such radical measures as lockdowns, as the example of Sweden seems to suggest.

These truths point toward clear and urgent action. We need to allocate resources for protecting vulnerable populations. We need rigorous testing of nursing home workers (a five-country study in Europe reported that 50 percent of coronavirus fatalities occurred in elder-care facilities) and others who care for vulnerable populations. We need to allocate funding for at-risk poor people to move to hotels or other places where they can self-isolate.

We can do this without closing every restaurant and bar. We can do this without locking churches, without requiring everybody to stay at home, without throwing tens of millions of Americans out of work. The lockdowns can and must end.

But I doubt that truth will guide decision-making. There is too much fear. Fear of the virus is compounded by the (reasonable) fear of experts, policy-makers, and politicians that if they change course they will be exposed as poorly informed, reckless, and cowardly. Our entire ruling class, which united behind catastrophism and the untested methods of mass shutdown, is implicated in the unfolding fiasco.

Journalists continue to sustain the pandemic narrative. Ioannidis is still ignored, though the evidence I outlined above has been building for weeks. Scientists who should know better are either gullible or too cowardly to speak.

We’ve been stampeded into a regime of social control that is unprecedented in our history. Our economy has been shattered. Ordinary people have been terrorized by death-infused propaganda designed to motivate obedience to the limits on free movement. We have been reduced to life as medical subjects in our condition of self-quarantine. As unemployment numbers skyrocket and Congress spends trillions, the political stakes rise.

The experts, professionals, bureaucrats, and public officials who did this to us have tremendous incentives to close ranks and say, “It is not wise to tell people that the danger was never grave and now has passed.” Sustaining the coronavirus narrative will require many lies. It will be up to us to insist on the truth.


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  2. A thoughtful and balanced examination. I have tried to be obedient to the directives of Church and State throughout this time. As a person in at least two "high-risk" categories, this was a matter not only of obedience, but of prudence. However, I do suspect that there are those who have sought to make use of this to further agendas that have little to do with public health (and I am not big on conspiracy theories, generally speaking). Life is valuable and to be protected. But the exception of pot, booze, and abortuaries from restrictions on non-essential services causes me to wonder. I had my cataract surgery cancelled as non-essential -- fair enough and probably wise. But But then I hear that the performance of abortion, which is plainly an elective surgery (we are constantly told that it is a "Choice" after all!), must continue uninterrupted! Never mind that I don't believe it should ever happen, as it is clearly condemned by Holy Tradition. Something else is driving such things and it behooves us Orthodox Christians to be discerning, not just jump on a bandwagon playing a very dissonant tune.

  3. Thanks for this. For someone who made a living as a numbers person for many years, it's been extremely frustrating to see huge policy decisions being made on the basis of models NONE of whose inputs could be defended by hard data. Equally frustrating when the decisions are framed in terms of a battle between "science" and superstition. In terms of public policy, science just didn't enter into the picture. What we actually know can be summed up qualitatively: this thing isn't very lethal (though we don't have a firm number for that); but it's really contagions (though we don't have a firm number for that either); therefore a lot of people can die.
    That's not even to get into the social/economic and, yes, public health effects of the lockdown, about which, again, we know essentially nothing.

    1. So, given the what we know about the landscape (very little as we both agree), are you willing to let R.R. Reno's particular brand of political/moral/prudential assumptions carry the day as a policy matter?

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    3. Jake, thanks. I'm not especially interested in Reno or First Things as moral arbiters. I even think an emergency lockdown, in the absence of any real knowledge about what's going on, might have been a good idea. I was specifically objecting to the very common message "You want old people to die because you don't believe in SCIENCE." We're all blundering through a new situation, and I think a lot of harm has come from the fact that people who know how to make graphs can take up the banner of SCIENCE in the absence of the actual data that we need for something to be, you know, science.

    4. I agree, but then "I have a masters degree in SCIENCE" use/abuse was simply part of the landscape of our political/culture ontology before this, and will be after this. Science, real science, has been the lapdog of our secular/technological/prosperity culture ever since Francis Bacon said so honestly at the beginning (well, "a" beginning).

      I'm with you in that I'm not interested in R.R. Reno's moral/policy arbitration either ;)

    5. Fair this framing is really frustrating. We need better spokespersons to head of this narrative or we'll lose the war for peoples souls though.

      I hate how the media reports on statistics, I wish they used your framing when reporting.

  4. R.R. Reno has been pushing his particular brand of libertarian "Trad Christianity" - tied into a moral weightiness to "the economy" that is much more American/secular than it is "Christian" in essence - response to this from the beginning. He like so many likes to play amateur epidemiologist - touting his own numbers and interpretation while admitting that the data is preliminary.

    Here is a question: Let's assume that he is correct and that that this particular pandemic is not in truth as bad as it could have been. Does this truth - and R.R. Reno claims to be all about the truth - mean that we should error on the side of an under reaction next time? Next time (and there will be a next time) the same unknowns and the same limited data will be present.

    R.R. Reno has made his moral/prudential choice already. Should we follow him?

  5. Precautions of course. Living in fear,is always counter- productve. May cooler heads prevail and let us live in the hope that Christ is risen. Indeed, He is risen

  6. By all means then, invite the public into your homes if it is so clear this was all an overreaction. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors do the same. Check in with us in a month. Check the hospitalization and "additional death" rates in areas attempting to reopen, since without testing we have no real metrics on infection rates and cause of death. It's a natural experiment that would never be allowed, otherwise, because it would be too dangerous. Analysis of death and burial rates around the world has shown this virus is very deadly relatively to their normal averages, if left to its own devices. For example, compares to normal, NYC's deaths are up +309% - including the dramatic countermeasures taken. Imagine that, nationwide, worldwide. Science skepticism in the U.S. and a terrible social safety net with the worst healthcare system in the developed world (unless you are wealthy), has led to our Covid impact to be far worse than more advanced countries in Europe and Asia.

    1. Who invites the public into their homes? I haven't invited the public into my home since, well, I never invite the public into my home.

      It's interesting to read articles from 2014 about the Ebola virus, a truly bloody (literally) affair with a 50% mortality rate, as opposed to the CV mortality rate of 3.4%. The whole tone and perspective were different.

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  9. The author of this piece is ignoring countries that successfully implemented social distancing and/or lockdowns AND resource allocations WITHOUT CCCP crackdowns , such as South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

    The difference here I think, is cultural. In those countries, thee is much higher faith and trust in public institutions and government, and by and large, the populace of those countries fully cooperated with the quarantine measures. The fruit of this team effort can be seen in the numbers. South Korea just recently had a national election (the first to be held in our virus era) with a huge turnout. There was no spike in virus cases and the number of daily cases remains in the teens and single digits.

    People who say that "those countries are small", "America is different," etc etc....are missing the point.

    The point is: It can be done . It's not magic, and there may very well be a second wave (it is likely), but flattening the curve buys our researchers time and takes pressure off the medical system. America could have done something like that too, with the right leadership and popular will. America could have been mobilized in such a way to fight this thing. Yeah, it won't be the same as those other countries, but it would have been something . We're in this together? (emphasis on the question mark) It goes beyond Trump and "the Democrats." The virus has exposed the deep sickness of our culture and institutions.

    What happened to America's "Can Do" spirit? No one in our political class believes in America anymore. This pandemic has exposed their apostasy. America isn't just in a moral crisis, but a morale crisis.

    I would encourage everyone to rewatch President Jimmy Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" speech. Conservatives snickered and called it the "Malaise speech." I think that was the last time an American president spoke to the people on that level and with such candor (nevermind what you think of his politics).

    1. David,

      I am sympathetic to the much of what you say. I am with those who point out that America is NOT a homogeneous and non-individualistic culture like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, etc. Neither are we a small homogeneous individualistic culture like Sweden, New Zealand, etc.

      If Jimmy Carter rightly pointed out the symptoms, the question is did he diagnosis the underlying cause in any real manner? If America is fundamentally a truly "multi" cultural state, glued together by rapidly decaying (mostly Protestant polity) tradition(s) on the one hand and a technological prosperity on the other, both of which have managed until now to prop up a semblance of order, but is widely recognized to be in one stage or another of decay and death, what is the *common basis* for morale, unity, and unified "can do" action? Can a house divided stand?

    2. Jake,

      Yes, we are not them. Obviously, there is no one size fits all solution. But, the United States has mobilized on a national scale before, and not necessarily just for wartime situations. I don't think anybody who points to those other countries is saying we should import their methods wholesale. The key difference, is that they pulled together as nations, involving every facet of society and worked together to achieve one goal---Flatten the Curve. Mileage may vary, but it is mystifying to me that the world's greatest economy and innovator was not able to even approach any semblance of national will or drive that could hold a candle to our grandparents generation in the Space Race or great-grandparents in World War II. The governors stepped in, of course, and communities pulled together, as they always do by the Grace of God. But it didn't have to be this way. It's too easy to put all of the blame on Trump.

      That brings us to your question. The virus has exposed how ill America is as a "nation." I don't have an answer for you, because none of us can predict the future. One thing is certain, we can't go on this way. The United States will not survive the 21st Century on this path. This pandemic (and we're not even close to being through with it) is a turning point in American history. I don't think it is overdramatic to say that. The question is, which way are we turning? We'll have to see, and pray.

  10. The damage is done, society is being altered based on the new anti social distancing religion. Many, tho thankfully not all, people are afraid to go out even when they’re allowed to.

    The CDC has told the health care system to label anyone not tested as a CV19 patient out of an abundance of caution, and the Federal government is now paying thousands of dollars per CV19 patient, I wonder what kind of bias that puts on an underpaid medical worker or underfunded hospital? My local fire station reports heart attacks as CV19 to pay for their ambulance, but you didn’t here that from me. Even with the number inflation CV19 still has yet to do anywhere near the apocalyptic damage, including in countries that have refused to follow China’s population control style.

    Dozens of States are in full lockdown even tho for example in Montana only 14 people have died of CV19 in months. Many have less than 100 deaths, as recently as a few days ago 45 States had significantly less than 1,000 deaths.

    Keep putting out garlic though, it’s working, no vampires see? If we take down the garlic tho, oh man, millions will die. Looking forward to the Christmas lockdown personally.

    1. Sojourner,

      The social distancing measures work. One need only look at the examples I cited or parts of Europe such as Germany to see that this is true. The reason why it "isn't that bad" is because of the social distancing measures. The United States is spread out, so that has also slowed the spread of the virus. America is not the world, and just because your state or community isn't "hard hit" doesn't mean there is no cause for alarm or reason to throw caution to the wind.

      I sympathize with the people who want to re-open because of fears of economic damage. If you look at the "success" countries (I put it in parenthesis because it is all tentative and we're not close to being over), they are trying to figure out how to reopen. They got their virus cases down to the teens and single digits by months of this. Heavy government stimulus, public cooperation, social distancing and no mass gatherings all contributed to getting to this point. It could all unravel any minute. Mass infection from the summer holidays can wipe out any gains and then some.

      Were/are some of the measures excessive? In America, the answer seems to depend on what political party you belong to.

      To quote Neil Degrasse Tyson: "Don't discount the science because you don't like the economics of it."

      He was talking about Climate Change, but that fits here as well.

      I genuinely don't understand how people can deny the severity of Covid-19. I'm not saying that to be belligerent. I truthfully, with all of my heart don't understand.

    2. Can you find a single scientific study that proves correlation of lower deaths or infection rates when social distancing is enforced? What about causation?

      Sweden followed no quarantine procedures and had a lower death rate than its neighbor Belgium which followed strict quarantine.

      Herd immunity is our best bet according to more and more epidemiologists, but that won’t happen until we’re brave enough to live like human beings again.

      You can’t keep people in bubbles, even with social distancing people are getting infected, it’s almost like going to a crowded, essential, store negates any hope of isolation.

      Thankfully as the UCLA study, among others, has shown that this virus has a .01% mortality rate.

      But sure, let’s destroy the global economy, and risk 260,000,000 people starving to death as the UN predicts, to try and stop the changing of the seasons.

      This is a highly contagious novel flu virus, that is dangerous to the severely ill.

      For the vast majority of society it’s typical to become infected without ever noticing because it is incredibly mild.

      But frankly I don’t care about societies decisions to be idiotic or not.

      I care about the Church’s response.

      No one in my parish is sick, or at least no one is showing signs, probably many of us have already been infected and recovered.

      We had Pascha, thank God. If I was under a different jurisdiction I would have been at home not receiving communion on the day we celebrate Christ’s victory over death.

      When did Christians become so terrified of death?

      As a brave priest in Athens declared, I would rather die of the flu than live like a prisoner without services.

      Thankfully I can go to church and know that while I may die of countless other causes, CV19 will not be among them, but if I end up among the .01% at least I’ll see it coming and can make my peace.

    3. Sojourner, Amen. Amen. Amen.

      David, you said you “truthfully, with all of my heart I don't understand.” That’s fair. My only response is to open your mind and seek the truth, which I’m sure you do. Turn off the main stream media that has been fanning the flames of panic since this began. We all understand their motives. Some independent research goes a long way.

      The actual data (from all over the world) on the death rate is in; and the early models were incorrect by magnitudes of 10, 50, 85, or higher. The models are total junk yet they are still dictating policy. This is absolute irrational lunacy.

      There are now hundreds of world-renown epidemiologists, virologists, doctors, high-ranking scientists, and medical professors who are speaking out against the extreme measures being taken at this time which do very little help the situation, and in many cases make it worse. These people are also being silenced and ignored by the MSM. In all cases, the economic devastation will cause immeasurable human suffering, and yes, death.

      Initially, I myself listened Dr. Fauci and I believed what he was saying. Since then, he has hardly shifted from his stance at all, despite the actual scientific data that is pouring in. When you do some research on him, whom he’s been associated with and what he’s stood for, it all makes perfect sense.

      We’re not the ones “discounting the science” David.

    4. "Sweden followed no quarantine procedures and had a lower death rate than its neighbor Belgium which followed strict quarantine."

      I'm glad someone mentioned Belgium and their strict lockdown. Adjusting Belgium's number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths relative to their overall size of population, they have had the WORST results of any European country (worse than Italy or Spain). Belgium's death rate is 15.44% , compared to Italy's 13.53% . Why ? Who knows for sure. Why is New York (specifically metro NYC area) so much worse than other areas of the U.S. ? Time and more testing will tell, but what it does show is that a one-size-fits-all general lockdown of the whole country isn't a necessary or sustainable plan.

    5. (in case anyone missed it , I'm a different "David" than the previous David who commented on April 28, 2020 at 1:10 AM )

    6. However, one more thing about the comment I quoted from Sojourner: "Sweden followed no quarantine procedures and had a lower death rate than its neighbor Belgium which followed strict quarantine."

      I don't think I would necessarily say that Sweden and Belgium are "neighbors" in the sense of being close to one another, geographically. But the point stands about a strict general lockdown vs. measured social distancing and quarantining of the vulnerable .

      If someone wanted to take issue with Sweden's approach , it might be more useful to compare Sweden with their actual near neighbors Norway , Denmark, and Finland , all of which have had lower death rates than Sweden. The long-term difference may be that Sweden's population achieves wide spread group immunity sooner , and countries like Norway, Denmark, and Finland (with their strict lockdowns) have simply forestalled the inevitable rise in deaths whenever they finally relax their lockdowns.

    7. "... The long-term difference may be that Sweden's population achieves wide spread group immunity sooner , and countries like Norway, Denmark, and Finland (with their strict lockdowns) have simply forestalled the inevitable rise in deaths whenever they finally relax their lockdowns. "

      Right, which is the point. You, Rdr. Daniel, Sojurner, and all the other amature epidemologists don't seem to even grok what flattening the curve really means.

      David (the first David), understand that in our individualistic protestant culture, even Orthodox laymen and Readers are apt to dive into domains of knowledge for which they are simply not qualified.

    8. Yes flatten the curve, a curve that was never in danger of overwhelming us, but meanwhile economic collapse happens to include the collapse of our health care system. Hospitals are going out of business just like any other business in a dead economy. Starvation is going to kill far more people than COVID could, even in the purely fantasy driven doomsday models.

    9. "You, Rdr. Daniel, Sojurner, and all the other amature epidemologists don't seem to even grok what flattening the curve really means."

      Well, Jake, I suppose you've grokked the concept of flattening the curve better than us. By the way, are you also an amateur epidemiologist or are you a professional in that field ?

    10. "...Starvation is going to kill far more people than COVID could, even in the purely fantasy driven doomsday models...."

      Blah blah blah, the economic sky is falling, help help we are being oppressed!

      Turns out loving your neighbor is *hard*, and really real *sacrifices* have to be made.

      "I suppose you've grokked the concept of flattening the curve better than us. "

      It appears so. Quiz time David:

      If society does nothing OR if it chooses to flatten the curve, how many people die in the in either case with everything else (e.g. capacity of 1st world healthcare system, etc.) factored out in any particular epidemic?

      a. more in former
      b. more in latter
      c. I don't know, I only have a masters degree in SCIENCE
      d. I know, because I listen to talking heads in the media
      e. Who cares - i've got my rights and the churches should be open - I HAVE RIGHTS!

    11. Ok,Jake, so you are also an amateur in these matters, with no particular expertise , right ?

    12. It’s amazing that people actually are starving to death, every day, and it is an undeniable fact that the economy collapsing is having a devastating effect on the rate of deaths per day due to starvation, but out of a supposed love of neighbors you can brush that off nonchalantly, in favor of “loving your neighbors” by not risking the chance that you give them a novel flu virus that they have a 99% chance of surviving.

      Truly self sacrifice embodied. Let the peasants starve, so long as they aren’t sneezing it’s all worth it.

      Locust plagues in Africa? Who cares, they don’t need an economy they need to stay inside, don’t be selfish.

      Any sacrifice is worth it, it’s for the greater good, flatten the curve, keep putting up garlic; we don’t have any scientific proof that it works but a made up model that predicted 2million Americans would be dead by now says we should keep putting up garlic or else vampires will come.

    13. Answer the quiz David... I know the correct answer, but I do not believe you do. If your going to play amateur epidemiologist on the Ortho-blogosphere, at least answer the most basic question as to what flattening the curve can do that, can't you?

    14. Ha! I wrote too fast and left the true out, so David you get a hint - the correct answer is "f" (i.e. the correct answer is not in the list). So what is f?

  11. The first "excess death" data are now appearing, so we're beginning to get data that could be used to do something called science. This is good. When people describe what we've had until now as "science," I honestly don't know what they're talking about. (BTW I'm not talking about virological research and other medical/biological work, but the models that have driven public policy till now.)

  12. Difference between 0.05 and 1.0 percent is an order of magnitude of 100x, very wide error bars (25k- 1.6 million deaths in US) , I think true death rate seems to be .4-.6. This still would put the death toll within .5-2 million of imperial college of London. Its "within the range of Ioannidis", but a order magnitude off of his mean value. So far the true death rate seems to hold, the analysis referenced by this article having some questionable assumptions (ie rate of spread is the same among homeless shelter as suburbia individual homes). The lower death rate shows social isolation worked. Its a curious thought exercise though, would the measures be worth it with .25% death rate, I dont think they would have less than that.

    That being said, I do think we could have done as the article suggests (turtled around vulnerable populations vs mass social distancing). (akin to early German response and Sweden. The death rate would have been higher, curious to see the analysis after the fact for Sweden in particular.

    Article posted is great, agree that media hasn't given opposing models fair shake, but to be fair a lot of it has been parroted in language of "conspiracy" and political narrative instead of attacking data. This article is that right type of tone.

    1. Heres a measured challenge of Ionnidias study, tagline, study has some questionable practices that may have skewed data, but is reasonable study that should be considered with *asterixes. If findings was applied to New York death toll, 2x more than the population would be infected, so we know its off even assuming over reporting of cause of death, but it and other studies have helped move the needle towards .6% death rate versus 1%.

    2. .6% would basically imply that 40% of NY got it, .2% would assume 11 million (130% of population), herd immunity would kick in at least at 80%.

  13. Remember it’s been six weeks with no church and no end in site in Blue states. New habits are being formed.

    1. "New habits are being formed".

      Good. Those whose praxis is formed/changed so easily were either fickle/shallow, or still fundamentally Protestant in mind and heart. Either way, it's a win-win...

    2. Dear Jake,

      We don't want that to happen, brother. We have to care for our brothers and sisters who are struggling.

      Dear Jacob,

      Hopefully those habits are one of prayer and focus on our Lord as we are in these dark times. While Jake is blunt in his comment, his point about having a strong faith is valid. Are we rooted, or will we burn away when the sun intensifies?

    3. I know multigenerational orthodox who are ready to walk away. This is not going to end well. It’s their faith in the leadership that is gone not in God. To quote one friend who lived through the Turkish invitation of Cyprus. “The Muslims could not keep us out but our Bishops have kicked us out.”

    4. It would be tragic if they did, Jacob. It is a common temptation, to confuse people and ideas/or positions. There is a great scene in "Band of Brothers" Where Major Winters says: "You salute the rank, not the man." I did a hitch in the Army myself, and keeping that in mind helped me a lot when dealing with officers and NCOs who were, shall we say, "less than exceptional." Of course, I was a "less than exceptional" soldier, so I guess I was in good company.

      The Lord told us what to do when our leadership disappoints us or fails us. Our Bishops did what they did with reluctance and anguish. Was it the right decision? I don't know. I think for many of those "walkers," they already had one foot out the door. Is it the "last straw," or only an excuse to justify a decision that they already made in their hearts? For each person the answer is different.

      If they leave, where will they go? That is the question St. Peter asked when the Lord asked the Apostles if they wanted to leave.

      There are no easy solutions here. Everyone has to make their own decision. Bishops come and go, and they will answer to God for the decisions they make. We also will have to answer for our own decisions during this crisis.

      If a parishioner is unable to give their Bishop the benefit of the doubt or trust in his decisions, then the problem isn't the virus. I don't have an answer to that, except to make the sign of the Cross.

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    6. David & Jacob Lee,

      In a more serious tone, I actually lean toward one of Rod Dreher's central ideas in his book "The Benedict Option", that for several diverse yet mutually reinforcing reasons/circumstances, the Church body (as a general statement of N/A Orthodoxy) is way too secularized and shallow, and that it needs to shrink by at least 1/2 (maybe even 2/3) for it to continue functioning in its cultic capacity - that is as a 'cult-ure' which has the ability to teach the faith, maintain minimal standards, and pass the faith to the next generation *even in a secularizing environment*. We have too many among us (in my own little parish I judge it at 60%) who in fact are not Orthodox at all, and if they are even Christian they are in that loosey goosey American protestant way - some call it "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism" but in our case most of these folks are "Moralistic Therapeutic Theists".

      Much could be said. A return of a real catechumenate, perhaps 3 years in length (with "the doors! the doors!" being more than an liturgical leftover) would be a sign of a healthy/robust Orthodoxy. A fundamental grappling with our praxis/ontology, instead of a parish life that simply takes the praxis of Christiandom and the Orthodox village and pastes it unto our American/secular lives would be another sign. None of this is even on the horizon however.

      Which brings me to leadership. To let you in on the secret Pastor Jacob, the fact is our leadership sucks canal water. If you are Orthodox for more than a few years and have not learned this yet...well, look in the mirror. Again, many diverse and interrelated reasons for this, none of which appear the least bit threatened. If you are Orthodox for "the leadership", well you won't be Orthodox for long. However at the end of the day the leadership is merely a reflection of the spiritual state of the Body, and is more or less exactly what we deserve.

      All that said, our humble hierarchy was exactly right in temporarily closing the churches during this (and any future) pandemic, and your friends quip is childish in the face of reality - even insulting to all the generations who truly suffered under Ottoman oppression - and reveals a either a typical Greek exaggerated flippancy (a kind of emotional outburst typical of the culture and not to be taken too seriously), or a real Americanization of the mind/heart...

    7. Jake,

      "Lukewarm" Christianity has been with us since the beginning. St. John Chrysostom's homilies on the subject could have been written today. I am skeptical of any talk of "pruning" or a "smaller, purer, Church" because it is more "planning," more "engineering." As if we can fix what has been a problem since St. Paul penned his letters to the Corinthians.

      That isn't to say I believe in a fatalist, do nothing approach. I think a more rigorous catechumenate is a good idea, although I believe that leaving its duration to the pastor's discretion is a best practice. There is much to learn in the "Old World," but we have to "be the Bee." It's like reading the lives of the Saints and deciding that they have to do what they did, as if the Synaxarion was a textbook.

      This "I can do anything if I put my to it" ethic is what is standing in the way. Dreher's ideas are still very American, because they have this idea of "a fix," a "plan."

      There is no plan. Only God's Providence. Perhaps I am channeling a little too much of Father Stephen Freeman here (his blog was a great influence early on in my journey to and in Orthodoxy, and helped shape my thought on what it means to be Orthodox in America---although I grew weary of the constant cultural commentary and only check back rarely).

    8. Yes David, I think the normally helpful "fix it" schematic can be pushed too far. Was not St. Paul in truth trying to "fix" the Corinth church? Was not St. John not in truth trying to "fix" the faith of the rich and powerful in Constantinople, to the point that they essentially killed him for it? I dearly love Fr. Stephen, but he (self admittedly) will push an idea to the ragged edge and beyond.

      The Church is the very Body of Christ, but even in this sense each organ and part has its function. In another sense, the Church is a cult ("the" Cult of cults), and thus an "organization", with all that means including rules (canons), leaders and judges (bishops), priests, deacons, readers, treasures, ushers, teachers, etc. etc. The Church has its "ontology" and "praxis" in the world - and it's not only "ok" but absolutely necessary to "fix" these things, such that living Tradition does not become dead traditionalism.

      Have you read Dreher's book? You should because yes Dreher has his limits (he is first and foremost a "journalist" and cultural commentator and not a "theologian") but what you say sounds like you have read one of the many reviews that gets what the book actually says dead wrong (e.g. the Ben Op is a "retreat" from society and/or the world). In our context, Dreher maintains that the secularization of the Body from within (note - this tribulation is NOT from the outside) is not a species of "lukewarmness" as it is normally thought of and that has always been with us, and always will be. It is instead more like a foundational heresy - and heresy is not "lukewarmness" - heretics truly believe they are Christians. The Church has always tried to "fix" heresy, with a martyrs zeal no less.

      If you have not read the book I would encourage you to do so. The opening chapters are the best non-technical exposition of how we (as a culture and a Church) got to where we are at that I have yet to read.

    9. Jake,

      How does this "fix" occur, THAT is the question.

      Admittedly, I have not read his book, although I have read his column on that subject and others. I do accept your rebuke, having broken the second great rule (the first being "Plagiarism is worse than murder") of any English Department: DO NOT RELY ON CLIFF'S NOTES (even if they come from the author himself).

      I love Father Stephen's work, but I also disagree with him on some points, and am careful not to drink too deeply from any one "name." Much like Father John Romanides, there is some good stuff in there, but not something you can hang your hat and whole outfit on.

      I got from Dreher that it isn't about walling yourself off and recreating a Christian village. St. Benedict's monasteries were a part of the community and yet "not of it."

      As for secularization as foundational heresy, I don't know if I fully buy that. It has a whiff of oversimplification. There were Judaizers and "Accomodationists" in the Apostolic Era, too. Syncretists and Slackers were rife in the early years of the Caliphate and Ottoman periods too. Technological and economic largess has accelerated and amplified a trend that is always with us----the internet has not made us more crass, it has just made it easier to act on such impulses, to name one example.

      I am not totally dismissing the argument, but I am suspicious of such nebulous terms like "Modernism" and "Secularism," because they are the mallets of the "Culture Wars." I will definitely check out the book, though.

    10. "How does this "fix" occur, THAT is the question."

      Yes! THAT is the question! After spending the first 1/3 of the book trying to grasp and delineate what secularism is, the final 2/3 is a survey of how some various individuals and groups are answering that question *practically* in their own and communities day to day life. That's all it is, a survey of a diverse set of (in many cases just 'sort of') answers. I find some of these better than others. Dreher admits he does not have THE answer, though he thinks his survey points to some generalities and commonalities to the various answers.

      As far as secularization being an "oversimplification", I hear ya. Anything can become the hammer/nail, so to speak. I would say that it is foundational because it is THE heresy in our time and place. If there are Judaizers and accomodationists in every era of the Church, what form does that tendency take today - how is it *normatively* expressed in our thoughts/lives? The answer is secularization. Unfortunately secularization itself (and this IMO is due to the cleverness of the Enemy) is not 'simple'. Its complexity is part of what makes it so hard to see and seem so natural as Fr. Stephen is right to try to get across.

      If you read the book you will have to bracket off some of your repugnance to the "cultural wars". Because of who he is (i.e. he makes his living as a journalist & cultural commentator), he can not quite escape this wars tropes and colored lenses at times when he should. However, it is his training that in part allows him to "sum up" the entire cultural and philosophical history of the western church/culture's fall into secualarization in a way that theologians, philosophers, and priests have not and probably can not do.

      How do you get across to a *general audience* what "nominalism" even is, let alone its importance, and how they are all nominalists in their heart? Nominalism is something "new", something that the Judaizers and accomodationists of previous eras could not even imagine. Rod actually gets its importance and does a good job targeting his general audience.

  14. *This is the first David---I added the B to my name to avoid confusion.


    Such a "definitive study" does not and cannot exist until the dust settles. We are in the midst of that "study." I told you to look at the results of South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and others. Social Distancing works. It can't be applied the same everywhere, of course. If you look at those individual countries, they tailored their policies.

    Here is an article on Sweden. They're also seeing a surge. They decided to go a different route-----Having their eye on the second wave, which in the case of the Spanish Flu was the doomsday one, they decided to try and create some "herd immunity" by allowing the virus to "run its course." Swedes believe that in the long run, this will save more lives and that they will weather the second wave much better than the rest of the world. My answer to that is: Maybe. The only problem, is that the data we have now suggests that immunity is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. It is a gamble, especially with a disease we are still learning new things about.

    Yes, antibodies are produced, but there are also cases of "reinfection." Scientists are not sure if this is a genuine catching of the disease again, or a "reactivation" of the virus in the body----meaning it doesn't go away but goes dormant like Herpes or TB. We don't know for sure yet.

    You keep going on about the flu and comparing it to the flu, but even the sober critics of these lockdown policies agree that this is different from the flu. It is not the flu. We have the luxury of being flippant about the Flu, because we have had decades to study it. The Spanish Flu Epidemic gave us the "pandemic model" and contributed to our knowledge of disease immensely. Millions had to die to give us that knowledge. I for one am not going to throw stones at the people who are trying to keep us safe. An overreaction? Maybe. But when it is something completely unknown and you don't even know what the proper reaction is, perhaps extra caution is not totally unwarranted.

    I don't think it is a question of fearing death for many Christians. This life will end for us all (unless the Lord decides to return in our lifetimes). All of our Patriarchs have emphasized the serious nature of this disease. It is something even the EP and MP agree on. But I'm not going to argue that with you, because you refuse to see any other point of view. If the witness and agreement of our bishops doesn't move you, nothing I say will.

    1. Not to put too fine a point on it but EPB canceled everything, haven’t heard it he’s changed that at all, Russia’s bishops are limiting things to varying degrees. Patriarch Kyril changed his mind part way through but not all clergy are following his advice, at the end of the day he is still just a bishop with limited influence.

      Meanwhile Georgia’s patriarchate declares it an “unjustifiable offense against God” to close churches, and Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belarus, and others have a similar response. So no the bishops are not all on the same page sadly.

      This is a novel flu virus. The data continues to support the fact that the mortality rate is incredibly low; you can point out anecdotal examples of “look these people stayed in side and this many people got sick” but not only does that not even prove correlation, it comes nowhere near proving causation.

      And again, my primary concerns are the faith aspects, the Church has never been in the business of closing its doors to the faithful in times of need, including times of legitimate plague. But we’re smarter than those we received the faith from, they were ignorant but we’re wise, thank goodness.

      Never mind the rise of fascist policies and the trampling of civil liberties, people being arrested for being outside by themselves etc.

    2. Sojourner,

      The initial order from the EP was for cancellation ala the Church of Greece, but after an appeal from Archbishop Elpidophoros and other Bishops, it was amended to be a closed doors policy (which is what the GOA and others were doing from the start). The Divine Liturgy has not ceased and is offered with a minimal group. The Russian Church is also moving to this model, as the virus increases in Russia.

      Other Churches have their positions based upon the situation in their countries. Nobody is questioning the seriousness of this pandemic, there is differing opinions on how the Church should react to it.

      You keep saying this over and over and again. Who are you trying to convince? Us? Or yourself?

      "But we’re smarter than those we received the faith from, they were ignorant but we’re wise, thank goodness."

      Brother/Sister, re-read this post. Is this coming from Christ?

      I'm not going to argue with you, as you've made up your mind. What will you do when those "defenders of Orthodoxy" disappoint you?

    3. "...This is a novel flu virus. The data continues to support the fact that the mortality rate is incredibly low..."

      Sojourner, your just full of it - you don't even rise to the level of amateur...what's the word for you...wash out? Scrub? Loser?

      In about a month in a half, almost twice the number of people have died from this Wuhan pneumonia than normally die from the flu in one calendar year - and this despite very severe, heroic, and factually significantly successful efforts by society at containment.

      How long are you going to go on trying to sell your hot steaming pile of $%^# ??

    4. :) have I hit a nerve with the master of science and theology? For sale; steaming pile of common sense, sky not falling, death toll not out of normal flu ranges, even counting the exaggerated figures that include heart attacks and cancer deaths, pandemic has already peaked across the board, hospitals are nowhere near capacity, many on the verge of going out of business, vast majority of people are able to recover without medical attention, mortality rate conservatively rates at .01-.02% but as low as .05%, no scientific studies provided to show the empirical value of extreme anti social distancing for all demographics vs the well documented benefits of herd immunity and limited quarantine of extremely vulnerable.

      But hey one amateur to another, you do you ;)

      This pandemic has taken on a religious level of ritual and devotion, we’re obviously past the point of reasonable discussion as a society, studies, and data don’t seem to matter. The models have been off by the millions, but we continue to follow them and the gospel according to CNN. Here’s hoping the government lets you come out for Christmas.

      When the dust settles, hopefully we can have a council to discuss what exactly it is we believe about grace and the sacraments etc and whether or not it was worth so many not receiving communion on Pascha. I’m grateful we had services here, people came from hours away to receive communion, it was beautiful in spite of the strangeness of the circumstances, hopefully it remains the only Pascha of its kind in history.

    5. Sojourner,

      Jake is right about the numbers. The virus has killed more people in America in a few months than the Flu does in a year. That is significant. Many people can recover from the virus yes, but it is supremely contagious, and it puts the elderly and people with underlying conditions (which many times they themselves may not even be aware of) in danger.

      We can argue about tactics. The Swedish model is the "alternative." Ok, that can be debated, but I don't think anyone in Sweden's government is downplaying the seriousness of the virus. They just have a different idea of the best way to handle it. Maybe they're right, maybe their wrong. WE DON'T KNOW.

      You keep talking about data and facts and figures. Those numbers are in a state of flux right now because the pandemic is ongoing. How about giving people the benefit of the doubt?

      Our Bishops love us and are our spiritual fathers. Sometimes fathers make mistakes or the wrong decisions. It doesn't mean they are any less worthy of our love or respect. Yet you are hurling abuse at Bishops and Churches who made the hard decision to restrict the number of faithful. Why? Do you think they wanted to do this? Do you think it was an easy decision to make? Some of them were forced to do so by the government (such as Greece). The Faith is not destroyed. Churches are reopening. You laud priests in Russia who defy Patriarch Kyrill and the Holy Synod. How is that right?

      Examine where these words are coming from. Are they from Christ?

      Our bishops do care about us. Like family, sometimes they do things we don't understand or disagree with. But the Love is still there.

      If you don't believe that, I don't know what else I can say to you.

      "Christ is Risen, my Joy"

      Don't be so quick on the trigger. There are many things we don't know.

    6. I would hardly classify noting that some bishops have closed churches and others haven’t, and that Patriarch Kyril isn’t in charge of other bishops territory, as “hurling abuse”.

      It’s not like I’m sitting here saying they’re full of “$%^#” and “loser”s because they don’t agree with my opinion, I mean how immature would that be?

      Look am I biased in that I’m not scared? Yes. I have been attending services, and I have coffee with my old firefighter crew most weekends when they’re not on shift. I go hiking at my local trail where people continue to enjoy life.

      In one week the flu kills 1,000 people, but in 2-3 months CV19 has only taken 500 in my State, next door it’s taken 14 people. Across most of the United States it’s taken a few hundred per State. But for whatever reason NY is an outlier. So let’s help NY, keep the economy going so their hospitals can be funded, and so people don’t have to line up at food banks all day for a sandwich and some milk.

      I’m a reasonable person trying to live my life, but the news is screaming the sky is falling 24/7, and people seem to believe it.

      Honestly it’s my fault for not resisting the urge to comment here. People have made up their minds, either they’re terrified and they’re going to jump through as many hoops as they’re told to, or they’re not, I’m not going to convince anyone so I should just try to enjoy the blessings I have and pray I’m wrong about where all this government overreach is headed.

    7. The people who are doing social distancing aren't necessarily "scared." And it isn't necessarily a "lockdown," either. It isn't in Korea and elsewhere. Many people have voluntarily cooperated with the government guidelines and adjust their lives accordingly.

      There is a vast space in-between. Varying degrees of measures depending on the situation. Nobody is saying you should believe the American news media, either. I don't. Social distancing has been implemented in Asia without hyperventilating into a paperbag and playing dramatics on tv. Actually look at what the rest of the world is doing, without the American filter, be it sensationalist or ideological.

      This isn't about fear, this is about solidarity. This is about doing what we can do to help keep our brothers and sisters safe. If we are able to prevent deaths, why not do that?

      Is it because you are suspicious of the government? Is that a reason to not do what we can?

      You've been dismissive towards people who are taking this seriously, calling it exaggerated and being rather mocking and derisive about it, too.

      The economic argument is not unimportant, but there is a bigger picture here. Don't be so dismissive because of an ideological distrust of "government institutions." In a pandemic of this magnitude, it is that very government which will be needed to help coordinate a response.

      We should be very grateful. This is serious and life threatening, but not "the Big One." This was a trial run, a test on our systemic handling of this type of situation. We failed miserably. Glory to God, the loss of life will be much less than it could have been.

      If an Ebola level virus with this level of contagion actually showed up, I shudder to think of the consequences. God is merciful, and we have a chance to get our "stuff" together. This virus has also given us the opportunity for Spiritual growth. Hidden blessings in times of tragedy.

      I don't understand your hardness of heart on this. Forgive me if I offended you.

    8. Apologies, I’m just used to dealing with people like Jake; since we can’t be bothered to exchange links on scientific studies or hold civil discussions the default is usually “If you weren’t so dumb you’d realize how smart I am and since you don’t have a PhD in every field you’re not entitled to an opinion, but my opinion is valid because I have superior knowledge in my own opinion”

      Anyways :) I think it’s very easy to label anyone questioning the wisdom of the current methodology and narrative as being uncaring or hard hearted, but that’s part of the narrative.

      Why is every epidemiologist or data analyst or economist who suggests that we’re not doing the right thing, immediately disqualified from the discussion?

      What makes you so certain that we’re doing the right thing, when we’re following models that have been wrong at every turn?

      The original justification for shutting down the country, was to flatten the curve, so that hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Everyone understood that and went along with it to varying degrees.

      Personally I don’t believe social distancing has worked. I go to Walmart and see people without masks, or wearing gloves and touching their faces, or using the same pin pad thousands of other people have used, and it’s laughable.

      People are following the form without understanding or fulfilling the hygienic purpose; some out of ignorance, some simply to fit in. At the end of the day you can’t contain the flu, new or old seasonal viruses will find a way.

      Meanwhile. Whether it was the magic garlic or not, mission accomplished, the hospitals are fine, if anything they’re losing money and risking closure because they can’t do lucrative elective operations.

      So now that we flattened the curve, and we’re past the peak, no more quarantine right? Wrong. “It might come back worse in the fall”.

      Oh so what you’re saying is we need herd immunity. Otherwise there is always a risk it will come back.

      Meanwhile people are losing the businesses they put their life savings into, families are standing in line for food hand outs, depression, suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, all hitting record levels.

      I can’t understand your hardness of heart against people wanting to save their lives by going back to work.

      People die, every day, rain or shine. About 125,000 roughly. In America it’s 7,000 a day, one every 13 seconds. Tragic? Absolutely. Worthy of giving up our way of life, our economy, our civil liberties, and our religious practices? Absolutely not.

      “It’s just for a little while” we don’t know how long it’s for, last month it was just a little while. Now it’s just another month...maybe the Fall too. Maybe until we have Bill Gates’ vaccine.

      God respects human free will, our Constitution reflects that respect, why don’t you? If two adults go outside and encounter each other, they’ve agreed to all the risks that entails. Don’t want to take that risk? Don’t go outside. “But what about the hospitals?” Well we’ve already establish that they’re fine and the worst is past. We didn’t need the incredibly expensive hospital ships, and we didn’t need the emergency hospitals set up by the Army, not even in NYC. Hospitals braced for the apocalypse, and it called in sick.

      Yes this was a trial run, and undoubtedly something worse will come. At the end of the day I line up as someone who values freedom over security. As a Christian death is something I would like to see coming, and if my choices are go to church and die of the flu, or stay home and die of the flu that I caught at Walmart buying snacks; it’s not a tough choice.

      Quarantine the sick and the vulnerable, use common sense and sanitation by all means, fund the hospitals, protect the doctors and nurses with proper equipment.

      But don’t try to get me to embrace a new way of life that includes being under house arrest and giving up the liturgy, and tell me it’s the Christian thing to do.

    9. “In other words, the science increasingly shows that the measures we have taken in the last few weeks have been both harmful—with freedoms lost, money spent, livelihoods destroyed—and pointless.”

      On further reflection, not sure why I wasted my time in another comment war when the blog post/article sums it up well enough. If you don’t agree with this article or the studies that confirm what it states, then basically the issue comes down to what each of us is choosing to put our faith in and base our opinions on.

      I prefer the Church’s track record of remaining open even during legitimate plagues, and I believe the data that suggests the apocalyptic model is wrong, the one that predicted 2million Americans dead by April 30th, whereas we’re hovering under 60k and now in a decline, whereas in 2017 the flu killed 80,000 and no measures were taken. I don’t agree with following the plan of arguably one of the worst regimes in history, a plan that is now being shown to cause more harm than good.

      If you don’t like the idea of the church being open whenever people might get sick or die, and if you don’t believe the data that suggests maybe there’s a reason we haven’t seen anything remotely close to the prophesies of CNN, then great. Let’s just acknowledge that we’re choosing to trust different data and see how things go.

      The main difference is, i’m not trying to force you do to anything, if you want to stay home, stay home, if you want to join me for coffee at my local fire station, or attend the liturgy with me, see you there. Whereas the option you’re promoting requires forcing people to give up rights and livelihoods and religious practices for an imagined benefit that cannot be proven and is increasingly being disproven.

      But again I look forward to the barrage of insults from Jake and the chastisement of hardness of heart for you David (B).

      For the record if you could provide linked to scientific evidence that social distancing correlates to less deaths, let alone is the cause, or if you could find evidence that the mortality rate is actually significantly higher than the standard flu contrary to the latest data and studies; I’d at least understand your concerns/fears.

      In lieu of that I have to look at States where less than 20 people have died, in population groups where hundreds die daily, and wonder why it is that we can justify taking away Constitutional rights, jobs, and religious services, and wonder if this so called cure isn’t worse than the disease for most of us.

    10. "... whereas we’re hovering under 60k and now in a decline, whereas in 2017 the flu killed 80,000 and no measures were taken..."

      Wrong. Measures were taken (normative yearly vaccine program), and your comparing one calendar year with normative measures to 1.5 months with extraordinary isolation measures - the very thing you are complaining about! Your whole chain of reasoning, from the misunderstood facts to how these facts are misapplied in realation to each other, is just wrong. As the kids say "your doing it wrong".

      Beyond your errors, this is what it is really about for you:

      "...justify taking away Constitutional rights, jobs, and religious services..."

      You have a fundamental *Libertarian* (which is a flavor of Classical Liberalism religiously and anthropologically) view of, well EVERYTHING, including your so called "Orthodoxy" and religious life.

      This is what I am talking about David B. I submit the man "Sojourner" as exhibit A. The Church in N/A is too secularized, and too large...

    11. Sojourner,

      You are looking at this through the lense of conservative political ideology. This isn't a about politics. Take off the American filter. Look abroad. See what they are doing.

      I am all for freedoms. Those exist all over the world. And yes, businesses and people should be helped. Other countries are doing it----but that is "Socialism" and must be rejected no matter what.

      Now I understand you. This is a political discussion.

      The "American Way of Life" is what we are really talking about.

      No thanks.

    12. Yes you and Jake clearly understand me :) apply a label that allows you to dismiss my points, apply condescending remarks of moral superiority, and move on. Just got done listening to yet another doctor on the frontlines saying this is comparable to a typical flu year and suggesting we re-open ASAP. But what does he know? He’s just a doctor.

      Still waiting on any scientific studies or data that justify your beliefs.

      Oh or how about a single Saint saying people should only go to Church to celebrate the liturgy if there’s no risk. Any history of universally banning services during flu season? What about during legitimate plagues?

    13. I am not going to cherry pick doctors, "data," bishops and saints to support my own opinions or politics.

      I defer to my Bishop, Spiritusl Father, and the proper health authorities. That should be enough.

      If thst isn't good enough for you, that isn't my problem. I am not going to legitimize or entertain an ideological circus.

      I am not interested in politics, or the idolatry of "Freedom" at all costs.

      As I said---No thank you.

    14. The art of discussion really is dying. I’m not trying to convince you to disobey your spiritual father or your bishop.

      You criticized a position, I defended it, you criticized me for the defending it; but you fail to bring anything to the table other than your personal opinion and your high horse and sense of moral superiority.

      More than happy to swap scientific studies, and church history, and statements from holy synods; but you’ve determined that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is being political and is a part of an “ideological circus”.

      You could write a book on how to convince yourself and alienate others ;)

    15. And yet you are sarcastically casting shade at them for making the difficult decision to close the Churches.

      If you think the Swedish method is a better way to combat the virus, that is a valid position. That isn't my issue.

      My point is to point out that being flippant and dismissive towards the virus itself is a grave mistake.

      I've tried to be charitable, but perhaps I failed in that. Forgive me for any offense.

      This isn't about how we feel about "the government." This is a very real health crisis which ideally we should be united on. One of the key points I am making is that there is such unity in countries that have successfully flattened the curve. COOPERATION between the government and the population.

      I'll leave it at that. This misunderstanding goes beyond internet polemics.

      In the end, only three words matter: Christ is Risen!

  15. Rdr. Daniel,

    I don't really listen to the "mainstream media." Sometimes I'll check in for stuff, but for international news I look abroad. Look at what the free countries of Eurasia did, read their media, see what they are doing. I saw the fruit of the efforts, and read their stuff and looked at their policies to see what they did. That's it. Go to the source. I am reluctant to read international news through an American filter. Sometimes I do if I have to, or if I want to draw attention to something or link to someone (like I did with the CNN article, which was pretty even handed in its treatment of Sweden) But by and large, If I want to know what is going on Australia, I will read Australian newspapers, or anywhere else. Many countries have English language editions of their main newswires. It is an education. I highly encourage it to all Americans.

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  17. I would also make the point, that economic doomsday is not necessarily a foregone conclusion, either. Recession? Likely. Depression? Certainly a danger. Economic collapse? I wouldn't go that far, as that is just as hysterical as the "virus doomsayers." We don't know what will happen.

    Economies can weather this storm, but it will take massive government-industry cooperation (this is already happening abroad, with mixed results).

    Is that what the American Right is afraid of? The "triumph" of "Socialism"?

    I say this, not in a spirit of derision. They see the America they knew disappearing. I said in another post, that no one in our political class believes in America anymore. The "Right" are the true believers. They are the ones who are still inspired by paintings of the Founding Fathers and believe the Constitution to be a sacred document. They see the America they grew up in slipping away. They don't fear for their lives, they fear the destruction of all they believed in and knew.

    What if its destruction is ordained by God? What if this view of America is an idol to be smashed? "Conservative" Christians don't seem to very reflective on this point. I won't talk about "Liberals," because they are looking for Christ in the wrong places. The focus of this post on those who claim Orthodoxy, but capital and lower case O.

    That isn't to say that Socialism/Social Democracy is better. It is made by man, anything we do turns to ash in the end. The Constitution is no different. The idea that America is "different" is the biggest stumbling block to our spiritual awakening as a people.

    The reaction to the virus is the visceral defensive measure of a movement who sees the end but doesn't want to acknowledge it.

  18. "...The reaction to the virus is the visceral defensive measure of a movement who sees the end but doesn't want to acknowledge it..."

    I would say David it actually is not that reasonable - it's more of a "gut" reaction by a deep seated and unexamined individualism. Also, remember that the conflict between the left (i.e. "progressives") and the right (i.e. "conservatives") is really a family fight - an internal conflict within classical liberalism itself. It's all one big Protestant family dysfunction, and while at times it can get somewhat heated, it is fundamentally a "cold war" and very unlikely to heat up into a real conflict as everyone in America is too fat, dumb, and happy to every risk their skin on anything in a real way... ;)

    1. Culture changes. Old habits die hard, but they do die. God has His ways. Love covers all things.

  19. All is madness. In spite of it all- the doom, death and despair (real and imagined; feared and longed for). Christ is Risen!

  20. Speaking of washout amateur epidemiology, R.R. Reno says:

    "widespread infection and a fatality rate of between 0.05 and 1.0 percent—not that different from the common flu..."

    Except he is doing it wrong. 1% would be an order of magnitude more, or just about, in a typical year. We are only 1.5 months in here in USA with extraordinary measures and are about double a typical flu year.

    " seems likely that the radical and untested method of lockdown does little to control it...."

    It "seems"? Seems to who? The evidence is overwhelming and obvious - we have flattened the curve. R.R. Reno just does not like the cost in terms of his Libertarian commitments: individualistic "freedoms" (with little duty to your neighbor), economic hardship, etc.

    "...In other words, the science increasingly shows that the measures we have taken in the last few weeks have been both harmful—with freedoms lost, money spent, livelihoods destroyed—and pointless..."

    He is doing it wrong again. The point was to flatten the curve (not cure, prevent, cut down the ultimate number of infectios, etc.), and the curve has been flattened just as SCIENCE confirms and said it would. SCIENCE has nothing to do with his Libertarian lament of money, freedoms, and money. SCIENCE does not "show" the truth or falsehood of R.R. Reno's philosophy and religion.

    "...The lockdowns can and must end...."

    They will, just not in when Libertarians posing as Catholics and playing amateur epidemiologists say they will, at least that is my prayer.

    "...It will be up to us to insist on the truth..."

    No, no it won't. R.R. Reno confuses his vain philosophy with "the truth". First Things deserves an editor more in line with Neuhaus' vision (which granted shared too much with Reno) and RCism in general...

    1. You keep using that word, I don’t think you know what it means :) Could you provide some scientific studies that prove your “science”? Because you’re referencing a model made by a man who has been infamously wrong because he bases his models purely on speculation and not on any scientific evidence. The guy who predicted 30million would be dead as of today, even with social distancing.

      Correlation doesn’t prove causation, but there has yet to be any scientific study proving even correlation of quarantine having positive effects on flattening the curve, lowering infection rates or fatalities. Quarantine the extremely vulnerable sure, but we’re talking about the entire population.

      Your god seems to be “SCIENCE” but you don’t seem to understand that you can’t just say you’re supported by “SCIENCE” unless you can provide some SCIENTIFIC studies using verified methods and data. Oh and using all caps doesn’t make you right either, but it does show how much you care ;)

      Again if you go State by State through the US the death rates of CV19 are incredibly low and behind their typical flu season standards, until you get to NYC which for some reason is an outlier. Maybe its the dense population, maybe its their health care system, maybe its the Federal government paying thousands of dollars per reported case, or maybe CV19 is more deadly in NY, we don’t have any scientific studies to determine what the correlation or causation of that anomaly is at the moment.

      Thankfully even with such a disparity, 16 deaths in Montana, 9 deaths in Alaska, 7 deaths in Wyoming, 16 Deaths in Hawaii, 47 in Vermont, 101 in Oregon, 214 in Oklahoma, 308 in WIsconsin, 1,944 in CA——23,474 in NY.

      In spite of that odd difference, all 50 states put together is still under the records for standard flu seasons. Also the numbers are certainly going to go down once we sift through the actual autopsy reports and find the real causes of death with co-morbidity being a serious issue. Someone dying of pancreatic cancer like our family friend, and being listed as a CV19 death is by no means accurate. Oh and then there’s the fact that even in NY we’ve already peaked and are now seeing a decline. So no, we won’t be losing millions, nots even hundreds of thousands.

      But keep on screaming that the sky is falling and that the vampires will come unless we keep using garlic. At least you can take comfort that CNN and most governments are on your side.

  21. First of all, it is the Chinese Flu! Second, I knew it was BS from the beginning since only the weakest and compromised were dying and the latest stats confirm this. The USA and the idiots in DC were hoodwinked BIG TIME!
    We send our young and healthiest to fight dead end wars all over the world since 1950 and we never shed a tear over this. Wake up DC!