Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wondering About Hope

The Syracuse Newspaper runs a column in the Saturday edition about what people believe. The past few weeks the articles have been written by people who were "areligious"; my read would be that they were more agnostic than atheistic but that is just my perspective. The essence of the two presentations is that this is all that there is so make the most of it. On the surface that sounds great -- live for today, make every moment count, etc.
I find myself wondering, however, why bother. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that if this is all there is we are most to be pitied ("If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all peple most to be pitied." 2 Corinthians 15:19). Life becomes a pathetic, accidental and somewhat pointless existence. The question "what am I here for?" has no context and therefore not even a sniff of an answer. I believe we are hard wired to seek meaning and purpose. Victor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning" found that survivors could see a future beyond their current circumstances. This "potential future" gave them hope and that hope helped them survive.
I'm not arguing for a dogmatic control focused "religion" (I can't imagine anything more antithetical to the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth). I am suggesting that a look to an eternal future is one way that people find hope. This hope not only allows them to survive life's difficulties it also gives them the courage to attempt taking on the structures, powers and inertia of human society that often grinds people to dust. I have read that during the days of the black plague the areas of Europe that were more "Christianized" had a lower death rate. The Christians saw a better future and were not afraid to risk. Because of this they took care of their dead (instead of leaving them in the streets). This extra care saved many lives.
"All these died in faith without having recieved the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. (Hebrews 11:13)"
What gives you hope?

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