Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Reclaiming Hope (from Obama)

by Cally Carswell 

Tags: Spirituality, faith, hope, theology, Barack Obama, economic crisis, Religion Dispatches,

In an essay for Religion Dispatches, Daniel Schultz argues that Barack Obama’s political hope-mongering is too shallow for our troubled times, and less useful than a theological approach to hope, which would concentrate on “imagining a new way altogether” rather than “fixing what already exists.” While lacking in specifics on what that new way might look like, Schultz calls on “progressive believers” to take back “‘hope’ as a theological category” in a way politicians can’t:

For what goes unstated in Obama’s vision of hope, indeed in all the visions of hope that spill from the mouths of politicians, is the shocking, unsettling idea that perhaps we can’t. Not alone, anyway. The things we hope for the most in our lives—our health, our wealth, our security, our happiness—cannot always be reached or worked or fought for. They are the gifts of a good and gracious God. And hope—real, honest, gritty hope—consists not in the Pollyannish belief that these things can be realized if only we try hard enough, but in the hard-nosed assertion that God purposes them for the good of all people. Hope results in the immoderate belief that any and all barriers to the realization of that purpose must be torn down now. Moreover, it results in the troubling assertion that our end goal is to do the tearing down.

… Hope, finally, is also the quiet assurance that God always gets what she wants in the end. What economic downturn can stand against that?

Source: Religion Dispatches