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Interview: N. T. Wright: The Pandemic Should Make Us Humble—and Relentlessly Practical

We can’t know for sure why it’s happening or how to stop it. But Scripture calls us to grieve with God’s Spirit and get to work serving others.

Between around-the-clock news reports, interviews with public health experts, and pundits hashing out the pros and cons of different disease-fighting strategies, we’re hardly at a loss for information and perspectives on COVID-19. Yet there are still many questions we struggle to answer with complete confidence: Why has this happened? What should we do in response? And where is God in all of this? In God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath, theologian and author N. T. Wright shows how Scripture speaks to our confusion and uncertainty. Andy Bannister, director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity in Scotland, spoke with Wright about his book.

Many Christians have already written books about the pandemic—everyone from John Lennox to John Piper, and even people with names other than John. What inspired you to contribute your own book?

Back in March, Time magazine asked me if I would do an article on the pandemic. It got a rather provocative headline: “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.” I wanted to say that this drives us toward the Romans 8 position, where the Spirit groans within us with groans beyond words (v. 26)—this is an extraordinary thing for Paul to say. And what it says to me is that we are supposed to be humble in the face of this, not to think we should know all the answers.

After the article appeared, I began to get feedback. People emailed me to ask, “How can you say that?” And I was informed about what people were saying on Twitter (I never look at Twitter myself). All the while, I kept hearing people use Scripture in a way that seemed less than fully adequate. The book is an ...

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White Fragility: A Conversation on Race and Racism

Introducing a new series discussing ‘White Fragility’ with perspectives from various Christian leaders.

What comes to mind when you hear the term "White Fragility?"

The term is striking, unnerving to some degree. Maybe intimidating. What response does such a term stir? Anger, defensiveness, denial?

This is what inspired Robin DiAngelo, who wrote the book White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. She is a scholar who has studied diversity and racism for many years, but has more recently become influential in evangelical circles and that is part of why we are hosting this conversation.

White Fragility has to do with how quickly white people respond with anger and defensiveness in conversations about race. DiAngelo has found in years of diversity training and research that white people respond to these discussions with strikingly similar responses, like the white man who pounded his fist at one seminar, exclaiming out loud, "A white person can't get a job anymore!" (p. 1). Yet, he is completely oblivious to the fact that 38 of the 40 employees gathered were white. “Why,” DiAngelo asks, “is he being so careless about the impact of his anger? Why doesn’t he notice the effect this outburst is having on the people of color in the room?” (p. 1)

From the author's introduction--a perspective on history:

"The United States was founded on the principle that all people are created equal. Yet the nation began with the attempted genocide of Indigenous people and the theft of their land. American wealth was built on the labor of kidnapped and enslaved Africans and their descendants. Women were denied the right to vote until 1920, and black women were denied access to that right until 1965." (p. xiii)

Chapter 1: The Challenges of Talking to White ...

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