Communities of Faith and Covid-19

Transcript Details

Event Name: Communities of Faith and Covid-19
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 10/27/2021
Transcript Version: 1

Transcript Text

I'm Nancy brick house and as Provost of

Baylor University in Waco Texas it's my

privilege to bring greetings on behalf

of the better administration to all of

you who are joining in unzoom for this

virtual conversation as a Christian

research university Baylor is committed

to creating solutions to the most

critical issues we face today fostering

a greater understanding of the

intersection of faith and public health

while squarely within our institutional

mission the fact that we are gathering

virtually and not in person underscores

the unusual predicament in which we find

ourselves as both social and religious

people with having been forced to cease

coming together to worship and engage in

spiritual development we miss holding

hands in prayer we Menace singing hymns

side-by-side we miss embracing one

another and sharing the peace tonight we

are fortunate to have some of America's

most prominent religious commentators

representing a diversity of religious

traditions to explore how we can

continue to thrive and serve the

surrounding world as believers and

communities of faith despite the new

reality forced upon us by the koban 19

public health crises these are truly

precarious times but tonight we will be

studying by truly remarkable speakers

two of whom dr. George and dr. West

recently engaged in a discussion about

civic discourse on our campus in Waco

last fall again welcome to each of you

and thank you for joining in wherever

you may be located to be a part of this

important conversation

I will now welcome in our moderator

sharee hardier president of the Trinity

for thank you so much Nancy I'll just

add my own welcome to all of you join us

for this important conversation on

communities of faith encoded 19 hosted

by Baylor and their Robert P George

Center on faith in public policy along

with the Trinity forum

we had over 2,600 people registered for

this event so there's clearly been a lot

of interest and we just so appreciate

your joining us I'm sure even harder

with eternity form and it's a particular

pleasure to be able to work with our

friends at Baylor in producing this

program tonight

I just want to give a special thanks and

shout out to both the visionaries and

the behind-the-scenes workers that made

this possible on Baylor's team including

David Cory Molly Moore Matthew Lee

Anderson and Nate Priscilla as Nancy

mentioned we are in anxious and

uncertain times

right now we're wrestling not only with

a public health crisis as infection and

fatalities continue to surge an economic

crisis as businesses shut down and jobs

are terminated but the resulting fear

suffering and in isolation along with

increased social distancing has put us

into a spiritual crisis as well and at

the very time that we most crave

connection and spiritual sustenance that

comes from corporate worship and meeting

together we instead have to practice

social distancing so we so appreciate

you joining us for in this conversation

as we seek to explore together how

communities of faith can offer guidance

support and encouragement to those

suffering and how the faithful can

creatively love their neighbor and

contribute to the common good we have an

extraordinary group of panelists for

this discussion as Nancy said but before

introducing them I wanted to offer just

a few thoughts and notes about what is

about to happen over the next 90 minutes

on the right hand of your screen you

will soon see a chat function which can

be used to provide additional

information and resources by our hosts

to supplement this discussion after

about an hour or so of madhuri a

conversation between our panelists we'll

take questions from you listening and if

you look at the bottom center of your

screen you'll see a Q&A button there

that you can use to type in your own

questions with 2,600 people on the line

we won't be able to get to all of them

but we'll take as many as we can and

then at the very end of our time

together you'll receive a survey we

would love to get your

feedback this is the first time that

Trinity forum and Baylor have done this

together so we would really covet and

welcome your suggestions on how we can

make this even more valuable to you in

the future our panelists tonight

represent a range of the faith

traditions including Catholic Protestant

Jewish and Muslim we are so glad to be

joined by each of them starting off with

Professor Robert George who is the

McCormack professor of jurisprudence and

the director of the James Madison

program in American ideals and

institutions at Princeton University as

well as the namesake of Baylor

University's Robert P George Institute

on faith ethics and public policy he's

also served as the chairman of the u.s.

Commission on International Religious

Freedom on the President's Council on

bioethics and the u.s. Commission on

civil rights he'll be joined by his good

friend dr. Cornel West who is the

professor of practice of public

philosophy at Harvard and professor

emeritus at Princeton University in

addition to teaching at Union

Theological Seminary Yale Harvard and

the University of Paris dr. West has

written more than 20 books and edited 13

including his classics race matters and

democracy matters and his memoir brother

West living and loving out loud we're

all so honored to be joined by dr. Hamza

Yusuf who is the president of his a tuna

College the first accredited Muslim

liberal arts university in the United

States and who was recently ranked by

the Muslim 500 as the 23rd most

influential Muslim nationwide

he's also the co-president of religions

for peace and an advocate for promoting

peace between Muslims and Christians

finally rounding out our panel will be

joined by Professor Danielle mark a

professor of politics and religion at

Villanova University a faculty member at

the Ryan Center for the Study of free

institutions in the public good who has

also served as the chairman of the u.s.

Commission on International Religious

Freedom robby cornell hamza and danielle

welcome so glad that's better


to begin with a fairly broad question

just to get us started Cobin 19 is

causing a lot of people to suffer right

now in all sorts of ways physical

illness financial loss food insecurity

loneliness and loss of purpose and so

much of the suffering at least P seems

so unjust so random or so pointless

so is there meaning and purpose

according to your faith tradition in

suffering and what are the resources

within your faith tradition to help

people cope with that suffering dr.

George why don't you start us off well

thank you so much

cherie not only for that question but

for moderating our conversation I'm

really grateful to Sheree for stepping

in no one does it better and it's really

harder does and so I was so delighted

when she accepted our invitation to a

serve as our moderator of course I want

to thank Baylor University president of

Bravo's brick house president Linda

Livingstone David Correy and the entire

staff the Washington DC team Molly Moore

for this and gosh I am so grateful to my

my great friends Cornel West

my dear brother Tom's a use of my dear

brother Daniel mark my star former

student who is now has embarked himself

on a very distinguished academic career

and has served as my successor actually

in chairman of the u.s. Commission on

International Religious Freedom this is

just a wonderful team of people to be

discussing this very important question

of the spiritual and moral dimensions of

the kovat 19 crisis and I'm grateful to

all of them to all of you for for

joining suffering the first

to say about it is we don't know why God

permits suffering we don't know why God

permits innocent people to suffer

innocent children poor people the

elderly afflicted in Scripture in the

Christian and Jewish traditions of

course sometimes suffering is associated

with God's will God causes suffering it

sometimes seems to say as punishment or

for instruction or as a blessing in

disguise theologians in my wing of the

Christian tradition in the Catholic

tradition have denied that God can

actually actively will suffering that's

incompatible with His infinite goodness

they instead say God permits suffering a

kind of willing we're talking about when

we talk about God's willing in this area

is permissive willing but why does God

permit it to happen that's a question we

cannot but ask but a question to which

we have no access to the answer if if if

someone says well this suffering that

we're experiencing now or in a war or in

an earthquake or other catastrophe is a

chastisement or a punishment from God as

Lincoln for example said of the Civil

War Lincoln said on more than one

occasion that the war came upon both the

north and south for the sin of slavery

if someone says that it's not something

that we can exclude nor is it something

though that we can claim to know rather

I think it falls to us to say how can we

meet the needs of our brothers and

sisters how can we serve those who are

suffering there is something there is an

answer to there's an answer to that for

each of us it's connected to what we in

the Catholic tradition call our

vocations and by vacations we don't

simply mean a religious vocation to the

priesthood or to be a

religious sister a nun we mean the

calling that every single human being

has by God calling from God himself to

serve to use the unique talents

abilities opportunities that each of us

has to serve our neighbors most

especially our neighbors in need our

neighbors who are suffering the final

thing I'll say about that is that in the

Christian tradition and you see this

most clearly in the witness of dr.

Martin Luther King there is the teaching

that unearned suffering undeserved

suffering is redemptive now this can

strike many years outside the Christian

tradition and even some within

Christianity as shocking people say well

that can't be true how can that be true

but in the Christian tradition our

understanding is that in our own

undeserved suffering we unite ourselves

by our acts of will our acts of faith

our acts of hope and of charity - the

redemptive suffering of Christ the

Christian story is about redemption

effected through Christ's willingness to

sacrifice himself to suffer and die on

the cross in atonement for sins and in

accepting our unearned or undeserved

suffering we unite ourselves with Jesus

in His redemptive mission that I believe

is what dr. King had in mind when he

stressed the redemptive nature of

suffering and that's something I think

that in the Christian tradition helps us

to understand what our own role is in it

we have no answer ultimately ultimately

to the question why does God permit it

and this of course is what gives rise to

that branch of theology called theodicy

it generates the so called problem of of

evil the question of whether God could

even exist how can an all good God exist

if they're suffering if he's all good

and all-powerful why doesn't he

eliminate the suffering their various

arguments that can be made I think some

persuasively for why

the reality of suffering should not

cause us to abandon our faith in God but

at the end of the day we don't really

have an answer to why God permits it but

we do have an answer to how we should

understand it and what we should do to

serve others who are suffering dr. West

even further thoughts well I just want

to thank my dear brother Robby for

getting us off a very good and high note

I want to salute you my dear sister

Sharif for your visionary and courageous

leadership of the Trinity forum

you've been added now year after year

and continue to bring together variety

of voices wrestling with very difficult

issues and of course sister Nancy and

Baylor on their facilitating our coming

and then of course by the hamsters but

then you're just always good to be in

conversation but I think you know

Beethoven raised the profound question

of how that we look at the world

unflinchingly and all of its suffering

and still must of the courage to love I

can love neighbor too most truth to love

beauty to love goodness

and they told herself had loved the

world in his own secular humanist way

and I think that's for me the

fundamental question I think brother

Robby is right we will never ever have a

rational coherent answer to the massive

forms of suffering including

the suffering taking place right now

Allah fellow human beings around the

world fellow citizens at the United

States having to do with this

coronavirus up so what do we do well you

do you do do justice you love mercy and

walk humbly with thy God you begin with

the spirit that brother Robby was

talking about of our financial ability

and our cue ability and the question

becomes how do we fortify ourselves to

be of service in solidarity to

bond to the suffering attempt to

alleviate as much of the suffering using

the best scientific weapon tree of

fallen human beings like ourselves and

yet viewing this as a way of bearing

witness to a love and to a mercy that we

associate me as a God that we serve a

set of stories about that God a

tradition that keeps a live reflection

and enactment of the love and mercy of

that love that God but knowing in the

end we don't have an answer to the why

question they'll say s key right about

this and brothers karamazov that there

is no human rational consistent coherent

answer to the why of suffering let alone

massive suffering and that way of

acknowledging how Shakespeare puts it is

it's above the question how do we

intervene in the world given the kind of

sources that are spiritual and moral

that we gain in light of the faith that

we have yes dr. Youcef dr. mark I want

to give you a chance to jump in here as

well thank you most compassionate I

would say that one of the most important

and fundamental aspects of religion that

it addresses the wise science addresses

the house but this really is the realm

of our religious traditions and the

Quran is I think very clear that

tribulation is part of life on earth and

there's a verse in the Quran that devout

Muslims recite every day which says

glory be to the one who created

everything in opposites and and one of

the ways that we know and appreciate

what we have is by experiencing the

opposite of what we have an Arab proverb

says that health is a crown on the

healthy that that only the sick can see

and so you know often we take blessings


for granted we don't really think about

what we have and it's it's the times of

tribulation that really causes us to to

remember what we had we're a very

complaining species we whine a lot we we

really forget to be grateful and and one

of the most important verses in the

entire Quran is that if if you're

grateful God will increase you in your

blessings but let the ingrates know that

blessings can be lost and chastisement

can be severe and the other thing that

in our tradition there's a there's a

person in the second chapter that says

God will test you with something of fear

and hunger and loss of wealth and

diminishment of lives so give glad

tidings to the people who are patient

who when they are afflicted they say we

belong to God and to God we return those

have mercy upon them and so when the

Prophet was asked about plagues he was

actually asked about plagues what were

they and he said that they are an

invasion of the unseen world upon you

and and then he said but there are mercy

for believers and I actually in these

days that that's because we've all got

more time than we usually have I mean my

brother who's a lawyer for the state of

California suddenly he said I've got two

hours every day because he was commuting

to San Francisco so a lot of people ar