Paul Poulton on the global pandemic

Paul Poulton
Paul Poulton

In the UK, our Prime Minister, colloquially (and affectionately), known as "Boris," informed us that in view of the coronavirus and social-distancing, he was laying down some severe measures to protect us all. "People may only leave home to exercise once a day" was one of them.

Not too far from where I live 20 or so people gathered for a barbecue, so the police went in to disperse the people, in doing so they turned over the barbecue. Sausages everywhere!

Boris is intending to enforce the new rules.

We are in the initial stages of learning to lead a simpler life: grateful for friends, appreciating the exercise we can take and thankful for our daily bread.

Slowing down is certainly not unwelcome for many of us. Transportation has halted much of its polluting discharge and the planet we live on has a chance to catch its breath.

Who would have thought that a tiny group of molecules could ground fleets of planes worldwide?

We read in the book of Exodus that Moses and his brother Aaron performed several divine signs before Pharaoh in an attempt to obtain the release of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Pharaoh called for his magicians who seemed to replicate the signs of Moses, which worked well for the magicians until Moses called lice from the ground to afflict Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Lice were creatures too delicate to be easily caught and then manipulated by sleight-of-hand. The magicians did their best but failed, concluding that, "This is the finger of a god."

I'm grateful that one of Boris' exceptions for leaving the house was "exercise." I've been taking mine in the early evening, a number of other runners I see greet me from a safe distance.

Venus is also out - the brightest object in the night-time sky, excepting the moon. Runners and walkers alike cannot fail to notice the bright planet as the early evening dark blue sky fades into sheer black and Venus sparkles like a hefty diamond on a jeweller's black cloth.

The Sumerian female deity Inanna, some four thousand years ago, was compared to the bright planet Venus, who we know in Roman mythology was the goddess of love, she was the Greek "Aphrodite." These other names for Inanna reveal her stunning beauty and sensuality. Inanna seems to be characterised as a youthful female, not as a maternal mature woman or faithful wife. She understands her power and uses it to her full advantage.

In the Mesopotamian story "The Epic of Gilgamesh" Ishtar (Inanna) attempts to seduce Gilgamesh, but he, being aware of her history as a sexual predator, reminds Ishtar how her former lovers have met with various calamities once she had discarded them, and he does not want to be among their number. Venus has been characterised as a menace.

Me being brought up as a good Christian boy means I don't adhere to "reading the stars" or any other superstition. Furthermore, I don't believe, as some people did in the 1600s, that flu was believed to be caused by the influence of the planets and stars. Flu is short for influenza, meaning "influence." But I can't deny that an air of menace seems to be in the world at present.

We have been afflicted with a virus. The man Job, in the Bible, was also afflicted, but boundaries were put in place so that his affliction could only go so far and no further. Job acted with righteousness and came through his difficulties. If we obey the rules of social distancing that our leaders have put in place, our affliction will only go so far. If obedience is our guide we will be better placed to combat the virus. But if we ignore the advice of medical advisers we risk harm to ourselves and those "at risk" around us. "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity" (Proverbs 11:3).

Stay safe, keep well CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.