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Hereford Times Article - 06/04/2020

This is my first article in the Hereford Times since I became Bishop of Hereford a couple of weeks ago. I’m very grateful for the many notes of welcome and good wishes that I have received since moving to Hereford.I am very much looking forward to eventually getting out and about as soon as social distancing permits.

So there’s no real challenge as to what to write for my first column. Coronavirus and its effect on all of our lives dominates our thinking. Unable to see each other, we are connecting virtually in ways we haven’t before. In times of anxiety like this we are on the look-out for words of comfort to make some sense of what’s going on. Social media is a great way of sharing. I have a rather eccentric relative who regularly sends me stuff they have found to protect me from the dreaded bug. This has included large quantities of vitamin C, lots of hot drinks, and self-diagnosis by holding my breath for 20 seconds. They all sounded plausible for a while, until you realise they are all nonsense. Others are more sinister: conspiracy theories also sadly abound online.

When life is complicated and hard, we are drawn to simple solutions. History and personal experience can teach us many things. But life is rarely simple. The way forward is never clear cut. The attraction of conspiracy theories is they give us the illusion of being in the know, and some feeling of control. Regaining control when everything is chaotic is very appealing.

Over the last few years we Christians have been the butt of silly conspiracy theories, casting doubt on fundamentals of Christian belief. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is a case in point. Despite his theories being debunked by all reputable historians, he still sold millions of books. Christians every Easter celebrate the actual truth of these things. For us, faith is staking our lives on the truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. There is ample evidence for their historical accuracy. When we talk of hope it’s not sunny optimism; it’s grounded in these events which have eternal significance. On Easter Sunday our cry will be, “He is risen!” God is with us in the midst of coronavirus and evil will never have the last word.I will be celebrating Easter along with millions of Christians worldwide this year, despite our church buildings being closed and despite the fear of coronavirus, I’m still joyful about the Easter message of hope.


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