2015 – Hope
I’ve never really had a “word for the year” or whatever that theme word concept is called. In fact, I only know about it from blogs. I’m not sure that I’ve ever met anyone who talked about using a mantra word for a year offline. Normally words fit better with goals and seasons that have little to do with calendar years.
Still. No, “still” isn’t my word, still is the interjection that I need to remind myself of the existence of hope this year. I’m not going to try to force myself to hope, I’m simply going to cultivate awareness and remembrance of hope when I am able.
In a wry moment of numbness the other day I realized that even thoughts of suicide can be an expression of hope. After all, there is no point in contemplating drastic measures without the hope that finally at least death will end the agony.
With a standard like that it’s rather impossible for me to fail at hope this year, no?
Hope is a funny thing- so insidiously personal. I realized recently that a friend thinks I don’t care if she fails at a certain goal when, in fact, the thought of her failing had never occurred to me since the goal is far below her objective ability. Yet she struggles without the hope that this goal could be blissfully achieved, and I wonder whether I am similarly blind.
Is there a chance that I could be far better at certain things in my life than I dare to believe, and that even if I do fail at certain initial steps I should laugh it off as a fluke? Rationally I know that is reasonably likely, but it is so much easier to see in the life of a much more talented friend. It feels like a ridiculously boisterous act of hope for me.
Here’s a poem for you. Do you know it?
Reasons to Believe in Jesus
Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.
Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)
Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)
And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )
Sartre speaks of the “passion of man,” not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.
From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are “traditional” alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.
If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.
by David Roemer
Was it a hopeful year? What’s the goal for this year?