Many Sightings of Hope

This essay, by Martin E. Marty, was originally posted on January 2, 2017 on “Sightings: Religion in Public Life” by The Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion

For more than a year I engaged in the visual and oral analog to “fasting.” Fasters discipline themselves not to eat. I chose not to comment on the election campaigns. A digital word-search will find no mention in 50 Monday Sightings of any presidential candidate or party. The choice was an implicit protest against or retreat from the grossness, waste, distortion, and distraction in what elections have become. Now the bad year of 2016 is past, and it is time to join everyone else in the sighting-and-commentary professions and to re-emerge actively.

What struck me all year was the sense and sight of extreme despair on many fronts, accompanied by some new notices of the meaning and potential of hope. The headline of a column by fellow Chicagoan Neil Steinberg was “The Necessity of Hope.” The column began with a quotation from Michelle Obama: “Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.” It ended: “Hopelessness is not an option. Hope is a tool, a hammer. Never let it go. You’re going to need it.”

This paralleled the long holiday essay in The Economist on “The agony of hope,” which focused on President Obama, who had written at book length on “hope,” and who kept embodying and exemplifying it against all odds, as the story recalled. The article traces the President’s career and evidences of his outlook through his bad recent year, in which he had no choice but to act and speak. Conclusion: he had to do the best he could. “Sometimes it was all he could do. The possibilities seem shrunken. After its collision with history, so might hope itself.”

You’ll want to keep reading…

Prayers to begin, but what is to follow?

2016-04 Lahore

April 4, 2016 [ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Around 200 Christians, Muslims and Hindus gathered yesterday (Sunday) at the site of last weekend’s horrific Easter Day bomb attack for a united act of solidarity and sympathy for the victims of the attack.

This weekend’s gathering at the Gulshan-e Iqbal Park began with a peaceful demonstration at 5.40 pm – the exact moment that last week’s blast occurred.

[…] Candles were lit and Christian, Muslim and Hindu religious leaders – including the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah, joined hands as they prayed for the victims and their families.

Amongst the 200 people present were representatives from the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Louisiana and the presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Church of Pakistan is a United Church. In addition to being a province of the Anglican Communion it is also a member of the World Council of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council. See: http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2016/04/multi-faith-vigil-for-lahore-easter-bomb-victims.aspx on Anglican News Service

As the article goes on read how the Archbishop of Canterbury was confronted with words asking for more than platitudes, no matter how compassionate. The Archbishop’s unnamed friend was asking for involvement.

What do you hear the Spirit saying?

Photo Credit: Diocese of Raiwind on Anglican News Service