In a news conference last week addressing the looting and rioting in New York, the mayor came on and called on religious leaders to help calm the tensions and encourage people to stop the violence (an interesting request of a non-essential service, but I digress). The request poses an interesting question about the role that the church should or should not play in society, and what a fine line it is that we walk. Is it the church’s job to stop violent outbursts within the community? No, it is not. Is it appropriate for the church community to have open and honest conversations about the concerns being expressed within our society, and love and care for our neighbors? Absolutely.

I love a good triumphant moment in a story. I enjoy watching Aragorn struggle through battle after battle, culminating in his full acceptance of his destiny as he’s crowned king, or the instant where Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and I finally release the breath I was holding and start to grin. You could argue that Aragorn won his kingdom the moment Sauron fell, or perhaps that Arthur’s greatness was truly manifested in the way in which he ruled as king, rather than how he became king. But beyond making you want to stand up and cheer in the theater, these culminating moments offer crucial imagery and value to the overall story.

Fear is all around us, and perhaps more pronounced today than in the past. There has been a lot of discussion about the decisions, impositions, and implications resulting from the intense fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Whichever side of these debates you fall on, there’s one important question that, as Christians, we perhaps aren’t asking ourselves enough…why are we afraid? I understand why those outside of the Church fear the suffering and death this plague brings, but why do we?

Graduation season is upon us, and with schools closed, ceremonies cancelled, and celebrations postponed, we’re seeing a lot of talk about the Class of 2020 online. This includes many celebrities and political figures pulling out their video cameras to deliver virtual graduation addresses. The thing that all compelling graduation speeches contain is an emphasis on what you (the student) are capable of accomplishing in this world. We are all foundationally good people with the ability to do amazing things if we put our minds to it. But, are we?

How did we get to the point where we are so weak and silly that we’ll wear a mask as we walk in our own neighborhoods, alone, at the crack of dawn? When did it become okay for our fears to rule our lives? Even worse, why are our fears allowed to dictate the lives of those around? The movement towards safety as the ultimate virtue in life has been building for a long time in our society.