From Pandemic to Renewal – Chris Rice

From Pandemic to Renewal: Practices for a World Shaken by Crisis by Chris Rice
Published by IVP on May 23, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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The pandemic changed the world on a global scale. Not only was it devastating in terms of loss of life, it also revealed deep layers of anxiety and brokenness throughout society. Mental exhaustion, economic disparities, and escalating divisions now mark our times.
But award-winning author Chris Rice sees the challenges of our day as a historic opportunity for renewal and fresh growth. As he examines eight interrelated crises exposed by the pandemic era, he provides pathways for followers of Christ to bring transformation and healing to their lives and communities. Covering topics ranging from a burnout society and a dangerous bipolar world order to our own divided selves, Rice helps readers to understand this emerging world that will reshape our lives for decades to come.
Drawing from his work across divides domestically and around the world, and writing with vulnerability and honesty about his own failings, he sets forth transformative practices that can move us toward social healing and spiritual renewal.

COVID changed everything. It didn’t just expose the vulnerability of humanity despite all our technologies or the inadequacies of some health care and governmental systems, it disrupted us in our very souls. From the perspective of a pastor, we saw many people leave the church for periods of lockdown and discover that their churchgoing was a ritual they did not miss. It exposed economic injustices. It deepened political divisions. It increased our experience of loneliness. It was devastating. But amid all that, hope emerges. In From Pandemic to Renewal, Chris Rice takes a look around at the devastated landscape and sees the potential for renewal.

The pandemic didn’t cause many of the problems in our society; rather, it simply exposed them to the light. From Pandemic to Renewal focuses on eight of those problems and discusses how we can move forward from this devastation in way that enables us to move forward and be better than we were before. The eight challenges Rice focuses on are: frantic anxiety, rising disparity, surging polarization, political mediocrity, American blinders, public validation, unprecedented dangers, and a longing for hope. Each of these chapters could easily be their own book, which means that Rice’s challenge is to summarize each of these themes concisely and offer the beginnings of a solution.

Because of the book’s structure, From Pandemic to Renewal can only offer the start of a conversation. But what it can do is provide a signpost toward the right direction and hope that we can all get there. Rice provides pathways for followers of Christ to bring transformation and healing to their lives and communities, emphasizing social healing and spiritual renewal. The narrative is also enriched by Rice’s personal vulnerabilities and experiences and showcase the global and personal realities of going through this collective trauma. Rice also brings in biblical examples of dealing with each challenge, showing readers that what we face may be new to us but they are the challenges that humanity has been faced with for millennia.

In the end, From Pandemic to Renewal is a solid book that, above all, offers hope. Its structure keeps it from being quite as deep or thorough as I might have liked. However, by addressing so many topics, Rice is able to offer a more holistic and comprehensive perspective that enables people to see themselves wherever they are most affected while gaining a perspective on others for whom the pandemic has affected differently. For example, my biggest concern in the wake of COVID might be the rising economic disparity. You may feel more concerned or affected by anxiety. By taking all of these issues together, Rice is able to explore their intersectionality and bring folks from different perspectives and experiences together. From Pandemic to Renewal’s insights and practical advice make it a valuable resource for those looking to understand and respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic era.