Catch me if you can

Post 33/2021 Friday 6 August . . . I offer a baker’s dozen gratitudes, followed by the reprint of an article on what one working group in the United Kingdom has learned about how truth has fared during the pandemic. I’ll start with gratitude number 13: the weather. Who would miss a chance to comment on the exceptionally pleasant few days we’ve enjoyed this week, despite some high humidity. The days were so close to normal as to be almost abnormal.

Over two days balloonists floated east across the Greencroft campus, here framed by Juniper Place, independent living.

I am grateful for . . .

Rebecca Sommers and Marty share a laugh during a visit on our patio.
  1. The gift of gladiolas and tomatoes from neighbors Rebecca and Merle Sommers.
  2. Corn on the cob, roasted on the George Forman grill.
  3. Being fit and well, despite some dependencies on the pharmacist.
  4. Ability to get around on foot, even though on some days that requires getting up early.
  5. Books, news, a variety of shows on Acorn TV, currently Hinterland, a Welsh mystery.
  6. Online and telephone connections with family and friends, including a regular detail- and humor-infused health update from a former work colleague, in the middle of cancer care.
  7. Worship services online with College Mennonite Church and Sojourners Sunday School Class and occasional worship via Zoom with St Anta and All Saints church in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK.
  8. Patio time, sometimes with games of Quidler, Canasta and Five Crowns.
  9. Live theatre at the Wagon Wheel, Warsaw, IN, with only one of the six shows remaining–nunsense.
  10. Anticipation of a visit with friends Audrey Metz and Ken Seitz from Harrisonburg, VA.
  11. Playfulness in getting shells and rocks out of containers where they’ve languished for many years and creating a few so-called art pieces and eventually a small rock garden.
  12. Rising number of people getting vaccinated as the best way to combat Govid-19 and its highly contagious variants.
  13. Sunny, slight breeze, shade-covered days, morning and evening skies, possibility of showers.
The wood frame comes from pine boards that are probably more than 50 years old. The “canvas” comes from the box our tablet computer arrived in some years ago. The driftwood comes from somewhere not remembered, as do the snail shells. The round container was used to weigh gold at a mine in Telluride, Colo., collected many years ago when we attended a wedding in that breathtaking mountain town where airplanes are more common in winter than in the thin air of summer. I could call it, “All for the price of glue,” but maybe I’m happier with, “Life’s mysterious golden hue.”

Five things we’ve learnt about Truth in the pandemic

by Revd Peter Crumpler (used by permission)

I’m involved in a project rooted in the Church of England’s St Albans diocese, north of London. We bring together people from a range of backgrounds and faiths to address the question ‘Where is Truth now?’

A vital issue for us from recent months has been ‘How has truth fared during the pandemic?’ Here are five key points.

Truth can save your life.

Knowing the truth about the Covid-19 virus and vaccines gave vital protection during the pandemic. The advice of scientists, health professionals and researchers has been widely sought out and debated.

But we’ve also seen a rise in conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination campaigns and growing confusion as people challenge the extent of the pandemic, and whether Covid-19 is really a threat. Social media algorithms stand accused of spreading misinformation faster than reliable facts and corrections.

Truth comes from trust.

Knowing who to trust is one of the fastest growing challenges facing anyone wanting to know more about the pandemic and its causes.

While faith in doctors and scientists is generally good, trust in politicians has remained low, and skepticism and confusion are growing.

Truth can be found on your doorstep – but not always.

Local information has become more important, especially during lockdowns. But with local newspapers and radio in decline, neighbourhood social media networks have been taking their place, spreading information–not all of it verifiable and sometimes incorrect.

Oten, it’s fear that drives our response to the stories we read. We eagerly consume stories highlighting a new ‘threat’ from Covid or scapegoating people not keeping to the lockdown rules. We respond emotionallly, ‘with our gut’–rather than our brain or intellect.

Truth has to be valued and protected.

Reliable, trusted journalism has been at a premium. ITV News journalist Julie Etchingham defended the role of the media during Covid-19. The news presenter, a practising Roman Catholic, explained: ‘”Many in our front-line services and the wider public are demanding answers. We are there on their behalf.”

In December 2020, Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson, published his response to a reader who believed social media posts over his newspaper’s reports. The open letter headlined ‘Do not believe a stranger on social media who disappears into the night’ sets out the contrast between verified public interest journalism and disinformation posted online.

Truth can be complicated – and that’s ok.

Throughout the pandemic, politicians have spoken about ‘following the science.’ This, they have said, has guided their decision making. Yet scientists can have a range of views, based on similar research findings. It’s in the discussion and debate that scientific truth arises.

People accept that the ‘scientific evidence’ is not always straightforward. We know that truth can be complicated, from our own daily lives. So politicians who level with their electors about the complexity of the decisions are often received with more credibility.

In continuing to ask the question “Where is Truth Now?” our modest project is helping to keep the conversation going – and encouraging others to do the same.

Revd Peter Crumpler is a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director the Church of England.

The article was provided to church newsletter subscribers by the Parish Pump, (www.parishpump.co.uk). Thank you to John Culver, one of the editors of New Contact – Tava Noweth, publication of the United Benefice of St Anta and St Uny churches, Carbis Bay and Lelant, Cornwall, UK, for putting me in touch with the Parish Pump, and Parish Pump editor Anne Coomes for putting me in touch with Peter Crumpler.

May the conversations we have bring family and friends and a wider host of people together in taking steps to avoid Covid-19’s still-out-there freewheeling certainty, “I’ll catch you when I can.” For my part, getting vaccinated, taking precautions to avoid infection, and getting timely treatment if hit by the virus, serves one and all well.

Around Goshen, Indiana

Photos of 16th Street reconstruction from our walk on Thursday to Cabin Coffee for breakfast.

Around Greencroft Goshen

Thanks for your interest and part in keeping gratitudes and conversations alive.

-John

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