How and Where?

by Elias Blum

How to get through the day, seeing the destruction, greed, injustice and inhumanity that surrounds us?

How to avoid either collapsing in despair under the weight of it all, or carelessly shrugging it off and saying, ‘not my problem’?

How to keep the pressing walls of despair and defeat away?

How to live in the world as it is, while living for the world as it should be?

How to find the glimmers and cracks of light breaking through the engulfing darkness, and to magnify them into blazing torches?

How to be a source of hope and encouragement, when any rational calculation would see the situation as hopeless?

Where is grace, in the midst of the Greek debt crisis?

Where is restoration, in the life of those who have been imprisoned to feed the corporate prison industry, or tortured for their dissent to the harsh logic of power?

Where is healing in the life of those who have been poisoned by fracking chemicals?

Where is peace, in the countries torn apart by war?

Where is joy, in those who suffer the pains and indignation of poverty, so that profits of the financial markets are undisturbed?

Where is love, in a capitalist system that treats human beings only as ‘factors of production’ or ‘units of consumption’, and never as whole people?

Where is resurrection, to give new life to all this terrible decay, and to bring wholeness out of corruption?

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If someone came to you and asked those questions, how would you answer them? What sort of advice or answers could you give?

I’m not seeking a resolution to the problem of evil – I think I’m quite content, in principle, with a view that we have to be God’s agents in the grand project of redeeming and restoring the world (thanks, N. T., for sorting that one out!).

But I don’t know what this means practically, in the jagged line between a loosely-defined but tightly-held faith that is at root deeply optimistic and a psychological tendency to anxiety, despair and pessimism.

Hope, truly, is a virtue. Perhaps hope is what is needed to see the ‘where’ and to answer the ‘how’.

If God really did raise Christ from the dead, is that in itself a sufficient reason to live hopefully, and thereby to be empowered to work constructively for the betterment of the human condition, even when all seems hopeless?

Is that the answer to the fracking, the bombing, the usury, the violence, the exploitation, the corruption, and the destruction? Not that ‘we all go to heaven’, but that ‘God has put the world right, is putting the world right, and will put the world right’, and that in that ontological reality all we need to do is to find our allotted corner and do what we can to improve it, confident that in the end all will be well? Is that it? Is that sufficiently convincing?

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