Greg Zanis died this week. You don’t know him, nor have you seen him; but it is highly likely you have seen his handiwork. 26,000 crosses to commemorate the deaths of people killed by gun fire. He started in 1996, and for more than 20 years he traveled the country—Columbine, Sandy Hook, Charleston AME church, El Paso Walmart, everywhere a person had been cut down in these random acts of violence. Zanis was a retired carpenter who started this project when his father-in-law was gunned down. A Greek Orthodox Christian by faith, Zanis added crescents for Muslims and Stars of David for Jews. He was 69 years old—cause of death? Cancer.
There are other deaths. Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard. A founding inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he lived on both sides of many boundaries: religion and secularity, gay and straight, white and black. He was 87. And at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan—39 people have died and another 74 are infected with the Coronavirus. In Michigan, from one Catholic convent, 11 deaths—Coronavirus—among nuns committed to education and the care of the sick and poor. Finally, Ravi Zacharias, famed and influential preacher and apologist, in the last stages of life—cancer.
Liberty University does not need any more bad news, but here it is—the entire philosophy department notified by a letter of their termination and the closing of the department. Is there any discipline more central to a liberal arts education than philosophy? Liberty has dealt with declining enrollments in recent years; last year they greatly reduced the size of their divinity school faculty. Liberty and all colleges and universities are facing a new threat to their flourishing—coronavirus!
Washington, that is-the state of Washington. The epicenter of the rising dilemma about singing! Yes, singing. The Skagit Valley Chorale held a rehearsal in March, observing all the standard protocols of protection. It did not work. 45 of the 60 attendees contracted the virus and two died. So now, choir masters in schools and churches everywhere are debating—is it safe to sing? Or is it a threat to safety. Speaking and singing creates what is called an aerosol cloud of moisture around the face, with singing six times more powerful and perhaps deadly than speaking. And the louder you sing, the larger and more potent the cloud. This is the reason Germany has banned singing; and churches everywhere in these United States are thinking—when we regather, do we want to sing?
Nicholas Proffitt, age 42, has been charged with federal hate crimes. On April 24, early in the morning, Proffitt busted a window at the Camp Girardeau Islamic Center, stepped through the broken glass, poured a liquid accelerant everywhere, and lit a match. The building went up in flames, although eleven people inside escaped safely. Proffitt had already served three years for destruction of property at this same structure, and the state of Missouri already has him indicted for hate crimes. Mr. Proffitt is in a heap of trouble.