Posted by Mark Beckwith on December 01, 2010
And the Band Played On is the title of an important book written in the 1980's by Randy Shilts. A journalist, Shilts followed the developing AIDS epidemic -- and how the government and medical establishment intentionally ignored the spreading of a complicated virus and its inexorable and fatal outcome. "And the band played on." Much has changed in the three decades since the outbreak of HIV disease. There is better treatment. AIDS is no longer a death sentence (provided people have access to the treatment). But more people are infected. Today is World AIDS day. We remember those who have died from this disease, their families -and caregivers -- and the many self-organizing individuals and groups around the world who stepped in to help when the official entities wouldn't. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul gives blessing to God, "who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love." (1:3-4) What an extraordinary statement about the abundance of God's blessing. It covers everyone and everything. In all situations. But there is a tendency in us to ration that blessing. To limit it -- or to carefully direct it to the "worthy" places. A limited blessing was unofficial policy at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. It is less the case today, but prejudicial blessings still abound. Which meant -- and which means, that whole categories of people are thought -- in some quarters, to be expendable. Paul doesn't see it that way. Nor should we.