Tamara Hill Murphy
October 29, 2014
When it comes to fear over Ebola, how do we balance a trust in reason with faith in a providential God?
Thanks for your thoughtful approach. I also think we need a rich account of the common good. Try as we might, the US can't just think about what's in OUR interest as though our good is quarantined from the good of the larger world. Seeking our own private interests will, in the long run, turn out to counterproductive to our real good.
I think what bothers me about the dominant approach to Ebola is that it doesn't really seem based so much in facts and reason and wisdom as in hysteria. All the scientists I've heard discussing it seem to think it's a very dangerous disease if you gt it and don't receive treatment, but that you're also not contagious until you show symptoms and that a lot of the high mortality rates have to do with systemic problems in the African health system that we just don't have here in America. Caution is one thing, but when you're hearing apocalyptic rhetoric all day it can be very easy to get <i>too</i> scared, and so become overprotective.
I think Luther's statement is actually really helpful here. "It takes more than a milk faith to await a death before which most of the saints themselves have been and still are in dread." The way I read that, it says that it's not cowardice to be afraid of something that wise, holy men also feared, that that probably is a sign of Godly caution. But that also means our fear must be the kind of thing that kind of person would fear - if it's the kind of thing only a fool (or someone who has consumed too much sensationalist media) would fear, it doesn't meet the standard Luther seems to be setting here. Caution is good, w should guard our lives when duty allows it because that's a God-given gift - but we must also be sure that our caution is really caution coming out of Godly wisdom, not out of a less warranted panic.
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