Rudy Barnes, Jr., December 17, 2022
I’m an octogenarian. I know that life is short; but after getting all of my vaccinations and taking precautions, I felt rather safe against COVID. Now I learn that even if vaccinated, we old folks are the most vulnerable to COVID. I beat the odds when I made it to 80, and along the way I learned that love is what life is all about, and that life doesn’t end at death. Love remains.
Last week I attended a Christmas party of my high school class--the Dreher Class of 1960. They all looked remarkably well preserved to be 80 years old, and we all shared stories of the halcyon days of our youth. My bubble of nostalgia burst when I came home and read that even when vaccinated the elderly remain the most vulnerable to dying from COVID.
Too often we think that a long life is a great blessing. It’s only a blessing if it’s a life full of love. My eighty years of life have been blessed with love: first with parents who taught me the meaning of love, then with a wife and children who have shared that love for over 58 years. We have all experienced the death of loved ones, but God’s eternal love has sustained us.
We know that life will end, but that love remains. I retired from three professions: I’ve been an attorney, an Army officer, and a United Methodist pastor--and I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. What I have learned so far is that God is love, and doesn’t favor those of one religion over others. We’re all God’s children, even those that don’t know it yet.
Jesus was a maverick Jew who never advocated a new religion or that he was the alter ego of God. Jesus was a great prophet and the Word of God. His teachings are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves; and most people accept that moral imperative of faith as God’s truth.
The truth is that we can’t love God without loving all others as we love ourselves; but the church teaches that worshiping Jesus Christ is a priority over following the teachings of Jesus on altruistic love. Jesus taught God’s universal and timeless truth for people of all religions and those of no religion, and most older folks have come to accept that eternal truth.
Churches are ubiquitous in America, but the great commandment to love those we would rather ignore has been lost in exclusivist Christian beliefs and our materialistic and hedonistic culture. But be hopeful. The wisdom to correct flawed church doctrine and to promote altruistic love in politics could save the church and our democracy from the dustbin of history.
Remember that “God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16); and also Paul’s beautiful description of love as the most excellent way. “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1st Corinthians 13). Love gives meaning to our lives, and it can sustain us in life from COVID and the fear of death.
Covid-19 Isn’t a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated Anymore. “Americans received their first Covid-19 vaccine doses in December 2020, which means we are now approaching the beginning of the third year of the pandemic’s vaccine phase. And yet hundreds of Americans are still dying each day. Who are they? The data offers a straightforward answer: older adults.
Though it’s sometimes uncomfortable to say it, mortality risk has been dramatically skewed by age throughout the pandemic. The earliest reports of Covid deaths from China sketched a pattern quickly confirmed everywhere in the world: In an immunologically naïve population, the oldest were several thousand times more at risk of dying from infection than the youngest.
But the skew is actually more dramatic now — even amid mass vaccinations and reinfections — than it was at any previous point over the last three years. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people 65 and older accounted for 75 percent of all American Covid deaths. That dropped below 60 percent as recently as September 2021. But today Americans 65 and over account for 90 percent of new Covid deaths, an especially large share given that 94 percent of American seniors are vaccinated.” The wisdom that gives meaning to life comes with age, but then so does death. That’s a sad reality for the old and young alike. See https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/07/opinion/environment/covid-19-pandemic-elderly-deaths.html.
Altruistic love is a timeless and universal virtue taught by Jesus, but it has been buried in exclusivist Christian doctrines of belief that were never taught by Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to follow him, not to worship him. God’s will is to reconcile and redeem all people through God’s love, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer. Unfortunately, in the cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil, Satan is winning the popularity contest. That’s bad news for democracy. Fortunately, God’s spiritual kingdom is not a democracy, and contrary to the belief of Elon Musk, The voice of the people is not the voice of God. See Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Vox Populi, Vox Dei in Religion and Politics at http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/11/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-vox.html.
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