On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that our Level 4 lockdown would drop to Level 3 in a week. The reason is most of our nearly five million citizens did their essential work: staying home in their bubble, washing their hands and when they did go out for the limited reasons allowed, kept social distance. The result is that, as of Thursday of this week, there were only 3 new cases of infection identified, 8 people in hospital and only 370 active cases.
My musings this week have been about the nature of reality. To my surprise I realised reality is as slippery as an eel. As the video of the woman speaking to her future self makes clear reality has no permanence. There is no guarantee that today’s reality will be tomorrow’s. Just ask Scottish author Peter May. The screenwriter-turned-novelist wrote a book titled “Lockdown” in 2005 about a global pandemic. The book was rejected by publishers at the time for being too unrealistic. Fifteen years later, that’s our reality due to coronavirus, which has so far infected at least two million people globally. That’s a million more since we celebrated Easter last Sunday. May’s book is now being published. Today’s reality has made it disturbingly realistic.
One of the blessings of now being a UU minister, having moved on from Anglicanism, is I don’t have to begin an Easter talk by explaining that the events of Passover and Easter are not history. They are stories, albeit powerful ones. They are not literally true. The blood of the lamb did not protect the Hebrew people from the plague killing Egypt’s first born. The bodily resurrection of Jesus did not take place. That means I can skip right to why the stories have been told for millennia. I can jump in with both feet as to why Unitarians should still tell them, even those of us who are dyed-in-the-wool humanists who have exchanged divinity for reason. Are we open to the possibility that these stories can draw us in and transform us anyway? Are these stories just old, dusty accounts from the past or might they still have some contemporary relevance if we can just shed, even if only for today, our disbelief?
My opening words are from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter is asked by his aunt Petunia:-
“Why were you lurking under our window?” “Yes – yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under our windows, boy?” demanded his uncle. “Listening to the news,” said Harry in a resigned voice. His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage. “Listening to the news! Again?” “Well, it changes every day, you see,” said Harry.”
I don’t know about you but during this time no one alive has ever experienced before it feels like the news changes every hour. Trying to keep up with the horror of the virus that shall not be named is exhausting, so last week I took time to escape into fantasy, my favourite literary genre. I binged watched all seven of the Harry Potter movies.