Past is Present: Pandemics and The Promise of Christianity

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a painful reminder that pandemic disease is not a thing of the past. Indeed, it will likely haunt humanity for the foreseeable future. And significantly, the history of Christianity is inextricably tied to pandemics, including those that ushered in the Church of late antiquity and the Church in colonial Latin America. The Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus is all about self-sacrifice and charity—principles that were operationalized in both the Old World and New. But the Church is a human institution that has struggled to “keep the faith." Its successes and failures alike can offer us valuable lessons going forward in our own time of coronavirus.

About the Speaker
Daniel Reff is an anthropologist and ethnohistorian who has studied how infectious diseases and pandemics contributed to the embrace of Christianity in contexts as different as late-antique Europe, colonial Mexico, and 16th-century Japan. He is emeritus professor at The Ohio State University.


About the Image
A 2020 photo showing the burial of coronavirus victims, juxtaposed with 16th-century images of indigenous Mexicans suffering from the "cocoliztli" plague
 

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Thursday, March 4 at 7:00pm to 8:30pm

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