Posted by: gcarkner | September 7, 2012

Embedded in Hope

Good Research is Embedded in Hope, in Anticipation of Discovery

Where is hope in this third stage of Capitalism called Postmodernity (Fred Jameson)? Where are we in this journey?  Are we lost, jaded or commodified in a sea of globalization, overwhelmed by an identity crisis, imploded into a consumer society? I first went to grad school to gain some knowledge and to transcend the sea of experience, to carve out time for reflection, to ‘make sense of it all’. I discovered the powerful theme of hope.

Hope, an active theme of Graduate Christian Union in a previous year, is claimed as one of three great virtues of all time alongside faith and love in I Corinthians 13. It must be important and perhaps we can reclaim it for ourselves and our research. Leisure specialist Joseph Pieper thought so in one of his University of Waterloo Pascal Lectures. He saw it as a deep and vital thematic in our human condition. Glenn Tinder spoke of hope here at UBC in GFCF Murrin Lectures several years ago and wrote a book on the subject. We cannot live, love and research without hope. Hope builds the horizon in our imagination; it is a research necessity

Glenn Tinder

Something good within us longs for, anticipates something new or better or more just, a solution to current problems, a better way to live together on out blue green planet. This is the lifeblood of university investigation. We are tapping into the concept of promise. The theme of promise, which historically includes promise of Messiah, runs through the length and breadth of the biblical narrative. We had a rich experience of walking through the great covenant themes in the Bible with Old Testament scholar Carl Armerding (former Regent President) back in January 2010. It was electric, a literal feast of insight! European Theologian Jurgen Moltmann (A Passion for God’s Reign) leads us to understand that the fragmented, displaced, homeless self can be retrieved, re-imagined and recovered in the context of God’s stronger and larger purposes for humankind; eschatological (future) hope opens powerful new horizons of meaning.

On a narrative band, promise beckons from the past, from ahead, the not-yet, the future hope of glory with God, the eternal horizon, and from above—the called-upward (Ingolf Dalforth) to realize the heavenward trajectory or draw of life. It pushes out the edges of our identity, remaps our possibilities beyond an immanent frame (Charles Taylor) and enriches our moral and spiritual imagination. God’s future and ascendant promise is embedded in our world if we seek it out and allow it to capture us; it has impact and can reshape our social reality both now and in the future. If only we had eyes to see this hope and the courage to explore it.

Jesus of Nazareth is at the heart of that story of redemptive hope and fulfilled promise, resurrection determination. Dietriche Bonhoeffer boldly talks about Jesus as God’s emphatic affirmative, his ‘Yes’ to life. This future hope can be brought into our discipleship in the present as part of our current horizon of meaning (Darrell Johnson’s Discipleship on the Edge).  We stand in the company of a God who has in the past and will in the future deliver on his promises. Hebrews 11: 1 records the sentiment: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

To borrow a sentiment/perspective from C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce, we need to think of love as harder than granite and weightier than the earth, and hope as tougher than steel, faith as heuristic discovery of self, grace as stronger than death, in order to get the full impact of promise. Hope is deep ecology for the Christian vision of life. We are privileged to access the graces of hope, faith and love. Do you see the value in examining rigorously this precious resource, to search out the riches of God’s Yes? This is both an artistic and scientific impulse and ought to encourage us in our hard work ahead this academic year. We ought to capture some of this in our study of Romans this fall in GCU.

Gord Carkner

GCU Staff: gcarkner@shaw.ca
See Joseph Pieper, Hope and History; The Four Cardinal Virtues

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