Lesson 10: Summary

hope Many work for peace, justice, and love. Karen asked if Christian faith offered optimism that is worth the time and effort. I think she was expressing the frustration a lot of us are experiencing. We felt we were overcoming our past shortcomings. We had elected a Black American president. We had a viable woman candidate for the office. Then the bottom fell out and deep, mean-spirited divisions split our communities.

Right from the start we changed optimism to hope. As Sister Rita wrote: “Years ago, I heard a retreat master who compared hope and optimism.  Optimism is when we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is when we see only darkness and cling to faith that light is still shining, even when we cannot see it.”

The Bible offers hope, not optimism. In almost all of the scriptures, God addresses people suffering in despair. It proclaims God’s grace as grounds for hope. God is present and working in the mess. His promises are trustworthy.

In our days, people respond to that grace in at least three ways. Some see it forgiving sin and granting entrance into a heaven after we die. There is no need to be frustrated with the state of the world for it is going to be destroyed.

The second choice is sometimes called the Benedict option after the famous monk who established communal monasticism. The idea is to separate yourself from a hopeless civilization by gathering with like-minded others in self-sustaining Christian communities.

My group thinks God calls us to the third option. Faith in God’s promises inspires us to witness in the midst of civil society. We are to provide a voice for God’s Word and to work with him in bringing about a peaceful, just, and loving community.

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  1. Kerry says:

    Thanks for this series, Fritz. My temptation is the Benedict option, but my conscience prods me in the direction of your third option.

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