Based on the experience of lock-down in England, the article considers ways in which the corona virus crisis has affected people’s outlook on life, and in the process opened up new avenues for dialogue between the Church and ‘post-Christian’ society. Areas touched on include sensitivity to the natural world, ‘ecological asceticism,’ love of neighbour and community spirit, as well as the limits to human control over the world, attitudes to death and the way we think about human life.
The present opinion piece is based on a response to the question: “What can we learn from this pandemic and the response to it in relation to Orthodox theology of creation?” Lockdown Conversations at IOCS, 11 May 2020.
During these times of emergency measures in response to the corona virus pandemic, much of the discussion in church circles has been disturbingly, if understandably, inward-looking. How we will be able to gather for worship, how to participate in Holy Communion and other Mysteries of the Church—these are important questions. But no less important is the question of what, if anything, the Church has to say to society at large at a time when churches are closed and believers confined to their own homes, yet people find themselves face to face with ultimate questions, matters of life and death, to an extent rarely seen before in peacetime. Reflecting on the response to the crisis in England, I offer here some thoughts on the openings it gives for dialogue with a world that considers itself post-Christian and often reacts against traditional Christian language.