Welcome to Surviving Faith, a blog on survivalism, feminism, and Scripture. Here, we prepare for the eschaton and everyday life. I’m glad you’re a part of our little fledgling community today.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to its knees. A few weeks ago, a tropical storm blew through New Haven, where I was living at the time, and felled trees and power lines. My house lost power for just under a week. Right after I left New Haven, a tornado hit. Now I’m in California and wildfires are blazing north of where I live. My dad and brother are part of the efforts to control these fires. My mother noted in passing the other day that California is overdue for a big earthquake. Right away, I looked for tables I could potentially roll under. As I write this post, Hurricane Laura is tearing through the south and desert locusts through African crops. Thanks to climate change, natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity.
Living through natural disasters has taught me the importance of preparing for them. As a disclaimer, I am not endorsing “prepping,” which is a multi-billion dollar industry that often involves spending large amounts of money on unnecessary bunkers and supplies. In learning about natural disaster response, what is needed is essentially some decent tools, supplies for 3-7 days, and knowledge.
And, as a person of faith, I would add this: Scripture. For Christians, Scripture grounds us in our faith in God. When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted, he responded to the tests of the devil with Scripture. To be without Scripture is to be completely defenseless, which is why the main strategies of the devil are to distort Scripture or get Christians to discard Scripture. I’m sure this seems all too familiar during a time when Scripture is weaponized against oppressed groups of people.
I’ll also add that I’m not suggesting that we are living in the End Times. Though I do believe Christ will come again someday to judge the living and the dead, that time has not come yet. Please read my friend Brook’s excellent blog post critiquing the recent rise in doomsday theology. All this said, I think we can prepare for that last day with ritual.
Ritual is essentially preparation for death and release into the unknown. When I learn a new survival skill, I practice it over and over, praying as I do so. I see survivalism as liturgy. My tools take on almost sacramental qualities and I retie knots like I recite creeds and prayers from memory every Sunday. When disaster strikes, I can approach the situation with a little more peace of mind because I rehearsed for it.
In crisis situations, I believe it is always community that saves us in the end. The kingdom of God is relational. Being better prepared for disaster not only helps you, but helps those around you who will benefit from your knowledge. With this in mind, I believe survivalism is feminist and even socialist as opposed to “survival of the fittest.” The anthropologist Margaret Mead said the first sign of civilization is a femur that has been broken and healed. If you break your leg in the wild, you cannot survive. If you live long enough for the bone to heal, that is evidence of community: people stayed with you when you fell, bound up the wound, and took care of you as you recovered.
This is my prayer: when disaster strikes, let us stay together long enough for what has been broken to heal. Let us be brought closer to the kingdom of God.