Greedy Individualism

Our greedy individualism is the chief reason why we have become so allergic to the utterly biblical motif of the wrath of God manifesting in catastrophic events. Our whole rhetoric against “blaming the victim” even when the inevitable consequences of socially irresponsible behavior befall us keeps us tongue-tied when in fact theological interpretation of disaster matters immensely – and not for the cheesy purpose of defending God (theodicy). Now it is true that as an individual I do not get coronavirus because God is picking me out for special punishment; God is not Zeus casting thunderbolts upon the individuals who offend him or displease him. We have it on no less authority than Jesus according to whom the heavenly Father causes his rain to fall upon the just and the unjust like, who rebuked those who asked who sinned that one should be born blind. But the truth is, precisely as individuals, we do not exist solely or simply as individuals, but we flourish or decline individually as members bound organically to one another in the common body of creatures made for community. The vicious contagion of coronavirus is a negative witness to the ineradicable social bond of us earthlings; it speaks painfully against the widespread American delusion that I am an island, a sovereign self who makes his own destiny, who can and must live alone, for me, myself and I.

Rev. Dr. Paul Hinlicky

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