I was listening to a podcast of an interview with Jurgen Moltmann at “Homebrewed Christianity” (Click HERE if you want to hear it).
Trip Fuller asked, “How do you maintain hope in the face of despair…?”
Moltmann responded, “As a protest.”
I like that.
- We see a world immersed in various evils, pains and sufferings.
- We see well-entrenched structures driven by and empowered by human ambition and selfishness that seem likely to perpetuate these plagues into the foreseeable future.
- We are able to imagine a situation where humans are able to live and interact in harmony with others, with creation, and with God.
- We cling to that imagined potential situation, and call that clinging “hope.”
The first three statements appear to be pretty self-evident. The first two simply state the way things pretty much are. The third statement describes how most of us think. Most of us are able to imagine something different than the way things are.
But the leap from statement 3 to statement 4 is huge. To go from something we imagine and then embrace it as relevant and meaningful in our present situation is not at all an obvious response. I can imagine that not all clouds are made up of microdroplets of water, but that some are made of cotton candy. That imagination can go further and I can value that imagined world and decide that it is preferable to the world we are now in. However, to embrace that vision and act on it would be strange and foolish.
For that imagined future to justify a hope worth clinging to, it must have at least two things (and maybe more):
- Justification of the hope to be realized.
- The hope is worthy of, and worth, the sacrifice it places on the person.
For me, the loving sacrifice of Christ, and His victory over death, demonstrate the benevolence of God and the firstfruits of the satisfaction of hope.
This sort of hope is active, not passive. It stands up to the culture and its flawed structures and lives according to this hope as a continuing act of countercultural protest.
This hope then is not only active in protest, but is also creative. After all, a positive protest seeks to act out the transformative change it envisions.
It has been said that “Necessity is the mother of invention,” but few things are all that necessary. Alfred North Whitehead argued that “the basis of invention is science, and science is almost wholly the outgrowth of pleasurable intellectual curiosity.” However, Whitehead lived at the height of scientism/positivism. Few inventions have any direct roots in the scientific method… except as a creative act to create a test, or a creative act to benefit from a natural discovery.
It might, however, be argued that “Protest is the mother of invention.” The scuba aqualung (developed by Jacques Yves Cousteau and Émile Gagnan) was not really a necessity; neither was it science. It was a protest against the natural constraints of the human body underwater.
True Christian faith should give us an active hope, which should, in turn, lead us to a creative protest aiming to create what we desire (regardless of whether we actually have the capability to turn hope into reality).