There’s a narrative in white evangelical Christianity that everything relates back to The Story. Come to think of it, it’s more of a cliche than a narrative.
The Story, of course, is the story of of Jesus of Nazareth. The whole biblical narrative, including the Hebrew Bible (Christianity’s “Old Testament”), is framed as a foreground to the story of Jesus depicted in the Gospels. Genesis 3, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 - all of these texts are considered prophecies foretelling Christ’s eventual role in history. All other stories and histories now serve to point toward Jesus or away from him, and history will culminate with his eventual return to Earth.
This narrative/cliche/device is employed early. It’s simple, and makes for good books for children.
It also makes for bad forced metaphors. Countless sermons have used shoehorned segues to connect anything and everything to The Story.
In this moment of history, we have a new all-consuming story: the pandemic.
Everything comes back to the pandemic:
How are businesses/schools/churches responding to the pandemic?
How is the pandemic revealing the structural weaknesses of our society?
How is government protecting us?
How is government failing us?
How is the pandemic being experienced by Red America & Blue America?
How is the pandemic affecting rural America?
What does the pandemic mean for detained immigrants?
What does the pandemic mean for work?
for high school seniors?
for elementary students?
for the elderly?
How is technology keeping us together?
What will happen after all this trauma?
What will the fallout of the global economy shrinking 3% mean long-term?
What does being productive really mean anymore?
Everything is changed. We must reckon with that. I’ve started and stopped writing this essay so many times, because I don’t know what there is to offer besides “we’ll see.”
We’ll see how we cope. We’ll see this through together. We’ll see how we respond to one another, and we’ll see how our leaders act in response to a major threat to our lives and our way of life. We’ll see if we are capable of large-scale change. We’ll see if we can hold our leaders accountable for their neglect, ineptitude, and avarice. We’ll see if such a threat can supersede all the culture warring that’s been going on for decades, or if it will just become another vector for that war to keep raging.
There is only One Story right now. It’s the pandemic and how we respond to it - as individuals, families, communities, governments, and societies.