Please enjoy these blogposts, written between 2011 and 2015. Another blog is on the way.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

#1: The Menace of Christian Hope

I've been gone. This is what I've been thinking about.

In the Protestant churches I’ve frequented, all falling into the category of "progressive," hope is a litmus test. You must have it. I would go so far as to say that in these churches the Ten Commandments are really eleven. The last is thou shalt not fail to hope.

"That's what they want, for us to lose hope," the widow of a famous left-leaning theologian once said to me--they meaning the oppressors of the world, the powers and principalities. "If we give up hope, they win."

If you "come out" in these churches as lacking hope, your fellow congregants will greet you with pitying smiles.

In a sermon I heard just a few weeks ago, the preacher insisted that every generation has feared that the world was about to end, yet it never has.

I don’t see the connection between the world not having ended so far and what is happening to the planet now, which ever more plainly points to its becoming uninhabitable for our species--and many others species--soon.

We will have to face the water flowing into our towns and cities, the beginning of great die-offs, the vegetables we have conscientiously planted expiring in the heat whether we hope or not. Not hoping may allow us to face these things with less confusion, to return to the stardust we came from in peace. Not hoping may allow us to discover what is sacred in our one and only life, the one we’re living right now.

According to the Pew Forum, seventy-eight percent of the American public identifies itself as Christian. Perhaps half (my estimate) anticipate a Second Coming. Some are even trying to hurry it along, supporting Israel’s militant wing, for example, in the belief that it may initiate the Battle of Armageddon.

Counting on a “new heaven and new earth” (Rev. 20:1), they see little reason to cherish the earth they live on now. Why address the danger, why try to mitigate it, when the cavalry is coming to whisk them away? Hope for a better world thus becomes denial that this troubled world is even important.

On the most basic level, why face any unpleasantness on the ground if one is sure that another, eternal life awaits in the sky?

Even progressive Christians, who read the Bible less literally, find it impossible to believe that their god of love could allow humanity and its fellow creatures to perish. Not to believe in hope is for them not to believe in God, or really, in anything at all.