A Theology of Hope

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee “Violence!” and thou wilt not save?
Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise…..”

Habakkuk 1:2-3;

Religious people are not immune to frustration in the face of the evil they encounter around them. Some prayers are like an angry accusation of God: “How can you let those things happen?”
But then there is the other side of the coin, the realization, that while evil, injustice and suffering exist, they are not the last word spoken.

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.
Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith

Habakkuk 2:2-4

Some people say, that this hope is futile and that religion is a recipe for the afterlife (which they don’t believe in) and fails in providing help against the evils of this life.
I happen to disagree.
I believe that hope is a necessary ingredient for any form of effective activity.
Why would you do anything if you had no hope for success?
Hope is a stimulant, and hope even can be a physical force in your body, strengthening your immune system protecting your physical well-being and even increasing your chances of recovery from serious physical illnesses. Let’s not even speak about the influence hope has on psychosomatic factors.
Christian theology is based on hope, but also on a realistic down to earth observation of human nature and the world around us.
Human beings are fallible. Although we have been created as social beings our selfish desires often turn us into anti-social individuals who are hell-bent into destroying the communities we need for our very survival.
Our religion tells us that positive changes do not come from attempts of violently overthrowing the structures of our societies but they come from within the human heart, the heart that embraces the ethics of love. And then those changes will spread outwards.
Love in the religious sense is the one described in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind … love doesn’t seek it’s own…”

That’s nothing but a weakness some people say, a mushy feeling, unable to effect anything in hard reality.
Well, my observation is different:
In the past war could be justified by claiming national interests in the lands to be conquered. But later on the populations of nations would no longer go along with such arguments.
Then the war-mongers were speaking to national pride or racial superiority complexes. This doesn’t work any more either.
In more recent decades war-fervor could be raised by fear-mongering, calling the designated enemy a lethal threat to the security of a nation’s people. This doesn’t seem to work any longer and so the war-mongers have given up on these arguments for the moment.
Instead now the war-mongers proclaim wars to be fought for humanitarian reasons in the name of R2P, the right to protect.
But the ability of the main-line media to deceive people has taken a down-turn since the rise of the internet and alternative news. The war-mongers messages will no longer be accepted without questions.
And so war is no longer popular for any reason at all, and truth is becoming more and more fashionable. There are also more and more whistleblowers from within the most criminal and oppressive systems, not only Snowdon and Manning, but many others as well, like John Perkins, “the economic hitman” for instance. And more and more people see them as heroes.
What inspires those whistleblowers to go against their own personal interests and risk their lives and liberty is a sense of ethics, ethics which in a religious environment would be called love, the love that doesn’t seek its own.
In light of these recent developments hope for change is not unreasonable at all.
Eventually there will come a time when even within the police, the military, part of the political and economic elites and yes, even within the mainline media most people will stop cooperating with the evils of war and oppression.
And then this economic system based upon on corruption and deception on every level and on a monetary system that is designed to monopolize global wealth into the hands of an untrustworthy elite, this system will no longer be sustainable. Change is a natural evolutionary process, and it will come.

Now a few words to the idea, that monotheistic religions operate on the principle of fear.
In mainline Christianity and Islam emphasis is based mainly on hope and responsibility for one’s actions.
In Catholic Christian theology “the enemy” is not the other person, there is no national enemy, no race-enemy, no class-enemy, the enemy is the devil and his minions.
The devil is not the equal and opposing partner of God in crime, but the non-physical force which drives people to destructive behavior against the self or others, mostly through the powers of persuasion.
The devil is not a powerful creator but a spiteful creature, who turned away from the universal and absolute creator.
No practicing Catholic believes he or she or their loved ones are destined for hell, for we believe in God’s mercy and the power of forgiveness. Hell seems to be far more a principle of comfort not one of fear, symbolizing the ultimate justice for those who bring so much suffering unto others.
God is love and light, the law of creation, of building up and of cooperation.
Satan is destruction, hatred, disorder, the tearing down of what has been built and chaos.
Some esoteric religions believe that the force of chaos is a necessary, equal and good counterbalance to the force of order, since out of this chaos a new world arises.
I disbelieve that. My observations have shown me that out of chaos comes more chaos, destruction brings more destruction and hate brings more hate. The vicious cycle can only be broken by love.
The universe was not created out of chaos, but scientists listening to the residue of the big-bang have made the observation that from the very first moment there was no randomness but the beginning of order.
The principle of God’s creation is order not chaos. The principle of all life on earth is cooperation not competition or fight or war. Cooperation in religious terms is called love.  The Holy Spirit  is, according to the Christian faith, the Love of God and also the Giver of life.

3 thoughts on “A Theology of Hope

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