In her 2008 book, The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle (1934-2015) noted some parallels between our present era of tumultuous societal change and similar periods–such as the Great Reformation (aka the Protestant Reformation). Tickle noted that the Reformation, from the late 1400s to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia (which ended the Thirty Years War) overlapped the time when the bubonic plague ravaged Europe.
The first recorded outbreak of the bubonic plague was in China in 224 BCE, but the outbreak most familiar to us occurred in Europe in the mid-14th century. Between 1347 and 1352, one-third to one-half of Europe died from the plague–25 million people. The plague (aka “black death”) ended with the Great Plague of Moscow (1771-1772). In four centuries, 75 million Europeans died from the plague. The worldwide toll is unknown.
Tickle noted: “The result of such devastation and human vulnerability was–and inevitably always is–a generalized reconsideration of the efficacy of the Church and …. religion in general…. Whether the recurrence of pandemics simultaneously with the recurrence of ecclesial upheavals is pure coincidence or whether, as some would have it, there is some other connection is for a later and more adequately informed time to determine. At the moment, all that can be said is that there is a co-occurrence between history’s pandemics and our times of re-formation.” (Tickle had in mind the HIV-AIDS pandemic.)
Now we have a better understanding of causation and mitigation. That’s not fake news. That’s good news!