In commenting about Hope, Patrick Mason writes: “The three great Christian virtues are faith, hope, and charity. The first and the third receive significant attention, but hope—like many middle children—sometimes gets lost in the shuffle” (Planted, 123). Mason is right. How often do we examine this important virtue/quality/gift/fruit? In this episode, Patrick Mason, Brian Hauglid, Bridget Jack Jeffries, and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon try to remedy this neglect, diving into various facets of Hope: what it is, how it is gained and allowed to flourish, and its various guises within religious as well as secular systems of thought. The panel also examines specifics of Christian Hope—including its sense that for believers, in the end they know Christ and justice and mercy and all virtues will emerge triumphant—and in what ways this sensibility can serve both wonderful motivations to action and, at times, personal complacency. Jeffries also helps Latter-day Saints come to better understand differences and complements between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity on this as well as a few other theological subjects. Each panelist also shares about personal trials in their lives and where their sense of hope finds its firmest footing.
Please listen to this terrific discussion, and then join in through the commenting system below!
Patrick Q. Mason, Planted: Faith and Belonging in an Age of Doubt (Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, 2015)
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This was a great episode with a wonderful panel, thanks again for another important discussion. I’m so glad that Brian shared the example about his daughter who has left the church, and how she looks at hope. I really resonated with that perspective.
I love hope and I feel like I’m a hopeful and positive person, this is part of my nature, and I think of it as a gift. Throughout my faith journey of the past few years, after losing belief in the truth claims of the church, I’ve tried really hard to find things in common with the Mormon community because the church has been such an important and influencing element to my life. Its hard to do this, and I’m grateful for these discussions because every little bit of connection to a more expansive view of things helps.
On hope, I find that many people that I speak with about my faith journey, expect me to have hope in specific ideals. You should hope that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or hope that the BoM is true, or hope that the priesthood keys are real, etc. To me, these kinds of hopes are frankly a waste of my time and I don’t want to even try to hope for these things. My beliefs have changed, I don’t believe the same way anymore. I don’t even think that hoping that God exists and is somehow pulling strings in our lives to make everything work out is a hope worth holding onto.
Hope_for_things is the online name I choose when I first started on my faith journey, and it still resonates with me. But this hope for things is not for Mormonism’s or even Christianity’s truth claims to be fundamentally true. I don’t care anymore about religious truth claims. I care about people. I hope that we can love our fellow man. I hope that the human spirit can conquer the devastation and hate and racism we see so frequently in society. I hope that we can overcome the challenges. I hope that we can see the beauty of creation and the ways that life is urging us to get up again and try harder next time. I hope that we can love ourselves, realize we are beautiful, that we are amazing and we are enough. I hope that we can forgive each other, I hope that we can give grace to one another. I hope that we can stop and listen and appreciate all the wonderful things we have in this beautiful universe. I hope that we can remember our generations past and the sacrifices they made for us. I hope that we can make sacrifices to build a better future. I hope for so many things!
I just no longer tie all these things to the lens of the religious symbols of the past. I respect those that do, but for me the religious symbols carry some of the baggage that reminds me of the negative elements of religion that I was personally focused on too much, and that I have decided to leave behind as part of my journey. Maybe these symbols will become meaningful to me at some future time, and if they do I welcome that, but for now I’m comfortable with the path I’m on.
Could someone please provide the citation for the excellent William James quote, the second half of which Dan had mostly memorized? Thanks!
Thanks for asking, David! I’d meant to put it up in reponse to Patrick asking for the citation during the conversation but then forgot! Here is the full quote and where it’s from:
For my own part, I do not know what the sweat and blood of this life mean, if they mean anything short of this. If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which we may withdraw at will. But it feels like a real fight–as if there were something really wild in the universe which we, with all our idealties and faithfulness, are needed to redeem.”
–William James, “Is Life Worth Living?” The Search for Meaning in Life: Readings in Philosophy, ed. Robert F. Davidson (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1962): 61
While I’m providing the info for the William James quotation asked for, here is the other one I mentioned on the episode but only paraphrased:
Suppose that the world’s author put the case to you before creation, saying: “I am going to make a world not certain to be saved, a world the perfection of which shall be conditional merely, the condition being that each several agent does its own level best. I offer you the chance of taking part in such a world. Its safety, you see, is unwarranted. It is a real adventure, with real danger, yet it may win through. It is a social scheme of cooperative work genuinely to be done. Will you join the procession? Will you trust yourself and trust the other agents enough to face the risk?”
–William James, Pragmatism (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1991), 127.
Dan, Based on what you said about God not being able to control. It has elements of a process theology, but it made me think of a book I read recently. Have you heard of the book “The Uncontrolling Love of God” by Thomas Jay Oord? Based on what you said I think you would find it interesting. The basic summation of his book is that God cannot unilaterally control anything because his primary nature is love cannot coerce. So God has maximal power that a being whose primary attribute is Love can have. He only persuades and influences through spiritual means. Might be interesting to you.
Here is the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01959VKI2/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
Also there is a website with short essays by some people that this idea resonates with: https://uncontrollinglove.com/
And there is a facebook group:
I nearly died laughing when Bridget talked about trying to buy her husband’s garments! Thanks for that!
Put me down as someone who would eagerly buy Bridget Jeck Jeffries’ book. I’ve been dying to read it since I heard the topic a year or so ago. Please make this available!