The Persistence of Forgetfulness

It has happened twice this past week.  Maybe you’ve noticed, but probably I’m presuming too much.  Last Sunday and Thursday past, there were no posts on this blog.  Both days a post was cued up and ready for me to hit the “publish” button, but other things interfered.  To get a sense of this you need to realize that my blog posts are always ready to go by 6:00 a.m.  By that point I’ve been awake for a minimum of two hours and have already lined up my initial thoughts for the day.  I also realize that many other people are not awake yet.  Since my blog posts feed out to Twitter I worry (rightly) that a tweet so early will be dismissed along with other early morning bird calls.  I load up my post and wait.

In an abundance of caution, I begin my job at 6:30.  The reason is clear enough—I was let go from two jobs after being told I was doing great.  I don’t want that to happen again.  I’m one of those people whose best time is the morning.  I’m aware this is unusual, bordering on the freakish.  I have come to a compromise—I push the publish button just before I start work.  When I began working remotely (I was ahead of the curve, for once), I knew we’d need a house with a dedicated office.  That office is upstairs and is reserved for work.  My creative writing is done downstairs.  Since I go upstairs before actually starting work to settle in, I need to remember to click “publish” before I read the first work email of the day.  If I don’t, Thursday happens.  (It very nearly happened again yesterday!)

What about Sunday, did I hear you ask (in my imagination)?  Fair question.  Weekends I try to hold out until after 7:00 (so late!) or later to post.  But on Sunday I’m in charge of the adult education program in my faith tradition.  I schedule and run the Zoom meeting.  Since that program is early, I need to be ready early.  By 6:00 a.m. on Sunday my post was loaded.  Many Sundays, however, are about as busy as a workday although it’s all volunteer work.  I awoke Monday morning and found Sunday’s post still in the dock.  The world has been spared my musings for a day.  Ironically, WordPress had been sending daily streak messages “You’re on a streak!”  My streak struck out on Sunday, and again on Thursday.  Maybe it’s time for a new routine.

It’s like there are two minds at work here.

WHO Believes?

These days it’s pretty clear that if you want to listen to anyone for advice it shouldn’t be the government.  I suppose that’s why I spend so much time on the World Health Organization’s page.  I’m no medical person and I certainly don’t understand epidemiology.  Contagion I get, because religion operates that way.  So WHO has been making somewhat frequent references to faith.  A recent status report noted that 84% of the world’s population reckons itself as religious and that many coronavirus outbreaks have taken place because of continued religious gatherings.  To that I suspect they’ll need to add political rallies supporting governments you shouldn’t trust, but what is such blind faith in leaders who don’t know what they’re doing if not religion?  People want to believe.

Religious gatherings also provide crucial support.  The community with which I associate has been using Zoom gatherings since mid-March.  It’s not perfect, of course, but during our virtual coffee hour I’ve been put in breakout rooms with people I don’t know.  I’m starting to get to know people I might be too shy to speak with in “real life.”  More than that, I’m asking myself what real life really is.  Technology has been pushing us in this direction for some time.  We relate virtually rather than physically.  I’ve never met many of the people with whom I have some of my most significant exchanges.  The internet, in other words, has an ecclesiastical element to it.  The words “church” and “synagogue” both go back to roots meaning “to gather.”  Faith, despite the stylites, is not lived alone.

WHO suggests that since religious leaders influence millions of people, if they would turn their message to prevention it could have a tremendous human benefit.  Consider how one man’s personal crusade in the mid-nineteenth century led to elections being decided on the basis of abortion alone.  If faith leaders were to take the good of humankind to heart and spread that message, it could well outstrip the virus.  Alas, but politics interferes.  Many religions also want to determine how people live.  There’s power in that.  We’ve seen it time and again with televangelists.  WHO has faith that these leaders might set aside their scriptures for a moment and read situation reports based in science and rationality.  WHO apparently has faith as well.  Until someone smarter than politicians sorts all of this out we’re probably safest meeting virtually.  Who knows—perhaps there are hidden benefits to that as well?