(CNN)In the age of social distancing, faith leaders are using the internet to find other ways to keep important religious traditions. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks with Reverend Jennifer Bailey about finding and keeping faith in the midst of loss and change.
Keeping Faith in a Pandemic: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for April 10
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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: This month, many people all over the world are celebrating religious holidays.
It's supposed to be a time for communities to gather and celebrate together in houses of worship or at home -- but because of social distancing, people have to find other ways to keep those traditions.
Some religious leaders have adapted to this by using video calls to hold services, but this is a time of loss and suffering as well -- when people look to their faith as a touchstone. And I wondered if that virtual connection was still enough.
So in this episode, I invited Rev. Jennifer Bailey to talk about how faith leaders are leading their communities. And to help us answer this question: Does your faith change in a pandemic?
I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent. This is "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction."
Gupta: Rev. Bailey is an associate minister for the Greater Bethel AME Church in Nashville, Tennessee. She founded an organization called the Faith Matters Network, and is ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Gupta: Reverend Bailey, thank you so much for joining us. I want to talk a little bit about what's been going on in the world. What has your life been like with Covid-19?
Rev. Jennifer Bailey: One of the things that I've been trained up in as a clergy person is accompanying people through the best and worst moments of their lives. And in this season, where we're not able to physically be present with one another in the same ways, figuring out new ways to be present.
I'm a millennial. And so figuring out that my phone can be used for something other than email or texting has been a revelation for me. So, picking up the phone and having weekly calls with my grandma and others has been a really beautiful invitation back into connection and community for me.
Gupta: What do you tell people, for example, your friends, who may call you and they're leaning on you. How do you approach those conversations?
Bailey: As I have been offering pastoral care and support for friends, I think the first thing that I offer them is the affirmation that they are doing the best they can. I also tell them that it's okay to be angry at God. If my God's not big enough to hold my questions or hold my anger in this season, I don't know if I have much use for that God -- and I say that as a clergy woman, right, who very much believes that God is real. And so I think there is a tendency sometimes to pivot towards this sort of blind optimism or theology that is more akin to positive psychology than it is true, true theology in my own mind's eyes, and that there's a distinction between blind optimism and hope. And that hope is, at least in the Christian faith of which I'm a part of, born out of a suffering.
I find great hope in my ancestors, both in my tradition and in, you know, as someone who's African American, seeing the ways in which the church mothers of my church have made a way out of no way for a long time and find solace in that.
Gupta: That's beautiful. It is a month of significant religious tradition: Easter and Passover. Ramadan is later this month as well. Typically, you know, people think about these traditions as being gatherings of people coming together -- families, friends connecting. Real human touch. And at the same time, given this pandemic that we're all, everyone in the world, is living under, that is not advised at this point to come together. How do you approach that then? Because that connection is such a part of the tradition. Is something going be lost because of that?
Bailey: I think the first thing that we do is acknowledge and lament the fact that we can't be together, right? That that is an important part of any ritual practices that are happening in the season. I'm also an odd duck who is a Christian clergy person that's married to a practicing Jew.
And so ... last night we had a virtual Seder with my husband's family, and it was imperfect. You know, his parents had some issues adjusting the iPads to get the angle right and the sound right.
And there was laughter, right, as we were saying the blessings and we're telling the Passover story. There was laughter through the imperfection. And so I think that there is a beautiful way in which even as we adapt these traditions to be virtual, or for the first time, maybe folks are experiencing some of these things alone, that there is space for joy.
There is a distinction between joy and happiness, like you can put the word "un" in front of happiness and it means something very different, but you can't say "unjoy" and so that there is something revolutionary about joy, even in the mess of Zoom Seders that don't go perfectly well.
Even as we lament in this season, the inability to be able to touch hands or see one another in person or give each other hugs or laugh around the same Seder table, I think there are also these opportunities for great joy -- these opportunities to innova