Religion After Pandemic CHAT

THANKS FOR COMING TODAY! I’ve been busy all day prepping a talk about how gratitude relocates us in time and in our bodies — that talk fits in the larger discussion of pandemic dislocation (which is really another name for “pandemic trauma”).

Take a breath. Settle in. Let’s be present for one another.

Just a reminder of the four dislocations I shared in the essay, below so you don’t have to click back to the original.

We’ve been dislocated in four major ways:

1) Temporal dislocation

We’ve lost our sense of time as it existed before the pandemic. How often have you thought: What day is this? What time is it? Did I miss an event? What month is it? That’s temporal dislocation.

2) Historical dislocation

We’ve lost our sense of where we are in the larger story of both our own lives and our communal stories. History has been disrupted. Where are we? Where are we going? The growth of conspiracy theories, the intensity of social media, political and religious “deconstructions” – these are signs of a culture seeking a meaningful story to frame their lives because older stories have failed. That’s historical dislocation.

3) Physical dislocation

We’ve lost our sense of embodiment with others and geographical location. For millions, technology has moved “physicality” into cyber-space and most of us have no idea what to do with this virtual sense of location. Without our familiar sense of being bodily in specific spaces, things like gardening, baking, sewing, and painting have emerged as ways of feeling the ground and the work of our hands. We’ve striven to maintain some sort of embodiment even amid isolation. But the disconnection between our bodies, places, and other bodies has been profound. That’s physical dislocation. 

4) Relational dislocation

We’ve lost our daily habits of interactions with other humans, the expression of emotions together in community. Have you worried you won’t know how to respond when you can be with your friends without distance, with no masks? How it will feel to be in large groups again? How will work or school feel back in person, with others at the next desk or waiting on customers face-to-face, or in the first in-person meeting? What happens when the plexiglass comes down, the mask is off? That’s relational dislocation. 

With these dislocations in mind, the task comes into focus. Surely, religious communities need to be about the work of relocation – finding what has been lost, repairing what has been broken, and re-grounding people into their own lives and communities.