I’m all tangled up, but not in Christmas lights. In information and misinformation. In wondering how my Christian faith intersects with the point of a needle. A vaccination needle.
The COVID-19 vaccine hovers on the world’s horizon, a Messiah-reminiscent shaft of hope piercing our long pandemic night. But like all previous vaccinations, it brings controversy, questions, rumours and dark perspectives.
“Too fast,” say some. “Do you know what’s IN that? No way I’m getting that needle. People have died from it already!”
I heard enough to make me ponder whether to take the vaccine. Is it safe? Is it ethical? A morning spent reading online medical journals satisfied me there was little to fear. But a few days later, I discussed the vaccination with someone holding the opposite opinion. I did more searching and found research on the other side that seemed equally credible.
Puzzled, I shot some of the information over to my daughter, Amanda. She has a long-held passion for medical research. In high school, before easy access to the internet, she haunted the library, researching anything she could find related to her own chronic conditions; so much that our doctors learned from her. I respect that she delves into information and articles from varying perspectives.
“What do you think of this?” I asked explaining my questions. “It’s troubling to me that we can’t know everything and thus can’t be certain of anything, except that we are confused,” I told her.
“LOL,” she texted back, which I think means “Loads of laughter,” or something similar. “Laugh out loud?” maybe.
The Bible tells us that our bodies are temples in which God’s spirit dwells, and that what we put in there matters. I wanted solid answers. I wanted a clear perspective. I wanted black and white. I wanted to know who to believe.
She responded with what I’ve told countless people myself: “We make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time.”
“Absolutely,” I texted back. “But I know I’m sometimes guilty of burying my head in the sand in order to live by a more convenient or acceptable (to me) set of facts. When someone knowledgeable and trustworthy challenges me, perhaps I need to dig a little deeper into the uncomfortable information.”
“Sometimes the contrasting information out there has been twisted and manipulated,” she responded, “using facts and studies supporting one’s chosen opinion and ignoring others that don’t.”
She’s right, and people on both sides of many issues do that. (Consider politics.) And so, the problem of separating solid information from misinformation remains. We dance with mystery, this side of Heaven, and few people I know enjoy the tango.
I will wrestle through this question, through prayer and as solid a body of information I can access. As Amanda reminded me, I’ll make the best decision I can. Nevertheless, I could still get it wrong.
God doesn’t expect us to know everything, as much as we may wish to. How reassuring that we can leave all our wonders and tangles in the hands of the only one who does.