Draw Two Metres Apart with Faith | Mark Seymour
During the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in religiosity; this point has been discussed in multiple articles across the political spectrum, often written with a level of astonishment. However, the reintroduction of the religious realm into the zeitgeist has been notably predictable for years now. The cracks of atheism started to creep into the public sphere when people so ruthlessly mocked internet atheists that frequently debated on forums like Reddit and 4chan, this attack against “edgy” atheists developed further by positing that if atheists are so terribly pathetic, then the theists must be the opposite, and so being religious was seen as being “based” and the correct position to take because it was cooler and more acceptable.
This idea has gained so much traction to the point that there has actually been a resurgence of religiosity in the younger generations (who are influenced by these memes about atheists and theists). This isn’t fad faith either: religious memes sprouting from the “based” religious memes sincerely carry religious doctrine, and often contain passages from The Bible; these young Christians are authentically Christian.
What has tipped this growing religiosity over into being a fully-fledged reinvigoration of faith has been the Coronavirus pandemic. As with all disasters, religion is the stalwart structure in all our lives that we can fall back on in times of struggle, this, paired with the liberation one might find in spiritual exploration, are the driving force for why we are finding the religious realm enter back into our lives.
The great philosopher Slavoj Žižek noted that in the time of this pandemic, with the lockdowns and the shutting down of large aspects of society, we should use the free time allowed by this change in circumstances to think seriously about our situation; this is not to say we should meditate on how to change the world, but we should actively think about who we are and how we fit into the world around us. I believe a serious part of this extra thinking being done by the masses has led so many towards religion.
Where you might be too busy in your day-to-day life working or fulfilling social obligations, the pandemic has stripped away everything but the necessary, and with this emptiness you are given reprieve to think about topics which won’t directly impact your day-to-day life, such as religion. For the most part, people are too busy for the serious consideration of religion, but when people are allowed time to consider it, they more often than not will subscribe to it. Outside of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are gradually losing autonomy: you talk to any working-class person and they can’t keep up with the inhuman rhythm of capitalism, they have to work more and more because they earn less and less, eventually being worn down so much so that they don’t even use leisure time because there simply isn’t enough of it.
This brief break from the rat race has enabled these people to engage in a local community of worshippers (though, currently only online), and this extra assistance with how to tackle the world, through the timeless advice found in The Bible, could prove invaluable to so many in a post-Covid world. Once we go back into the world properly things will be completely different; a large variable in whether it will be changed in a good way or not will be seen through how the church advises it’s new followers.
The pandemic has been crippling to what remains of community bonds, the dwindling sense of communal duty so adored by thinkers such as Benjamin Disraeli and Edmund Burke has been almost completely destroyed by lockdown after lockdown, death after death. We have a chance to save our community spirit through the heart of the community, the church. When things go back to the new normal we have a real chance on a local level to rebuild the communities our parents and grandparents once cherished.
Of course there is the criticism that this is all lofty platitudes, and that I’m being romantically idealistic, but we have already seen the start of this rebuilding of community through things such as clapping for the NHS and playing instruments and singing together with your neighbours on your doorsteps. Community develops from the bottom up, and these small acts soon snowball into a community to be proud of. One day we will be able to draw near with faith, but until then we’ll have to remain two metres apart.