Is anything unprecedented anymore?

In describing the Covid-19 pandemic, the one word that has been particularly troubling is “unprecedented.” In terms of scope, scale, and speed, the Covid-19 pandemic was unprecedented, and since March 2020, it brought many new issues for theological schools and seminaries, such as lockdowns, testing protocols, and changing health guidelines. A sour economy, turbulent politics, and racial justice issues also have played out concurrently with the pandemic.

What’s troubling is that the word unprecedented has seemed to have lost its power. Three years removed from the start of the pandemic, we still seem to be living in unprecedented times. Several leaders have told us that they quit using the word unprecedented because it seems a string of events had made the word almost meaningless.

Nevertheless, the word still seems fitting. In theological education, the pandemic exacerbated the stress on schools that were already dealing with difficult enrollment and financial issues, along with a changing religious landscape, among other things.

What’s “unprecedented” for you? What are the major issues? Is it a single issue, or a series? We’d like your thoughts for a future story about these times. Email; share your thoughts, or schedule time for a conversation.

Is anything unprecedented anymore?
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