I became a storyteller, in part, because numbers failed my imagination — they seemed bland and colorless compared to words. Big numbers, especially, are hard to process. Would billionaires exist if we could actually conceptualize a number of that magnitude? Would wars continue if we could visualize 1.3 million American casualties?
In “The Church Must Model Lament for Our Grieving Nation,” Adam Russell Taylor wrote, “The journey between now and resurrection Sunday must inevitably go through a wilderness of grief.” Maybe the wilderness is a place for counting: Forty days of Lent, 12 pandemic months, 500,000 American deaths to COVID-19. Numbers, hard as they are to grasp, are necessary for grieving.
So this is me trying to understand what 500,000 looks like:
Five hundred thousand is one-third of the population of my hometown, San Antonio, and three times the size of my college town of Greenville, S.C. You could almost fill all 29 NBA stadiums with the Americans who have died from COVID-19. As The Washington Post illustrated, if the Vietnam Veterans Memorial were to etch 500,000 names onto its black granite, the height of the wall would have to stretch from 10-feet tall to 87-feet tall.
It’s enough to make you hate math, even if we need it. It’s enough to make you stop — for however many days it takes — and lament. Something our faith communities know a thing or two about.
1. The Church Must Model Lament for Our Grieving Nation
Churches are on the front lines of helping parishioners cope with the magnitude of this personal and collective tragedy. By Adam Russell Taylor via sojo.net.
2. 500,000 Dead, a Number Almost Too Large to Grasp
Here are three ways to visualize the monstrous death toll of the coronavirus in this country. By Artur Galocha and Bonnie Berkowitz via The Washington Post.
3. Grace Semler Baldridge Is Bringing Queer Stories to Christian Music
Preacher's Kid dares to include songs about topics rejected by the contemporary Christian music industry. By Mitchell Atencio via sojo.net.
4. The Lies Hollywood Tells About Little Girls
Britney Spears and I learned the same lesson growing up: When you’re young and famous, there is no such thing as control. By Mara Wilson via The New York Times.
5. Witnesses to the Miracle of Blackness
We cannot observe this month merely by asking, “How can I remember and learn about Black people?” It is all of us asking, “How can we love Black people by seeing them, hearing them, relishing in them, and creating a world where Black people feel loved, inspired, and protected?” By Danté Stewart via sojo.net.
6. Japan Has Appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness’ After Seeing Suicide Rates in the Country Increase for the First Time in 11 Years
Loneliness has long been an issue in Japan, often discussed alongside “hikikomori,” or people who live in extreme social isolation. By Katie Warren via Insider.
7. Sr. Dianna Ortiz, Torture Survivor and Activist, Dies at 62
Ortiz “turned her experiences of death into something that saved the lives of thousands of people,” said Rose Marie Berger. By Gina Ciliberto via sojo.net.
8. The Lineage Holders: Gender, Blurred Boundaries, and Buddhism
When her Buddhist teacher pursued her romantically, she fell in love and overlooked the fraught power dynamics until it was too late. By Sarah Herrington via The Revealer.
9. We Have 9 Years Left—450 Sunday Sermons—to Save the Planet
Climate change is a math problem. By Bill McKibben via Sojourners.
10. No, Rush Limbaugh Did Not Hijack Your Parents’ Christianity
“The truth is, many conservative Christians embraced Rush Limbaugh because they had already embraced a faith that championed an us-vs.-them militancy, the denigration of liberals and feminists, the sexual objectification of women, an appreciation for coarse language and even violence when directed at the right targets, and a thinly veiled misogyny that kept women in their (God-given) place.” By Kristin Kobes Du Mez via Religion Dispatches.