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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The first two paragraphs of Christian Apologetics

Is there hope for the universe? There certainly is hope in the universe given the presence of hopers—we who think and speak in the future tense, who invest ourselves in that distinctively human tense through anticipation, imagination, rumination, and speculation (both informed and reckless).[1] But is there any hope for the universe and its intrepid hopers? One is hard-pressed to find a larger, more significant question than this imperious query concerning the cosmos. For all our cynicism, we are—at the end of the day—inescapably creatures of hope. We look forward; we yearn for something more, something better—anything to give meaning, value, and substance to our short lives. Even when our hopes for family, friends, country, and ourselves are satisfied—by a happy reunion, an election that goes our way, a job promotion, a negative biopsy—larger hopes (and fears) still loom.

Yet we strive after the future. Even when we reflect back on our lives, our species, and our planet, we wonder… What does it mean? What will endure? Is history progressing toward a goal or merely staggering along? What of the present instant, the ongoing now of my unfolding—or unraveling—life? From here and now we look back and we strain ahead. But what is possible for me to hope, to know, and to do? As we explore the tenses of life, we often fear that our hopes are empty, hollow, mere specters without a home, that in the end it is hopelessness that will rule the day and our destiny. For the possibility of despair is always close at the elbow of hope, acting as a debating partner if not a heckler. Can one agree with the biblical philosopher that “love is as strong as death” (Song of Songs 8:6)? Or will death have the last laugh on us all?



[1] George Steiner has reflected on the significance of the human use of the future tense, “the grammar of hope,” in Real Presences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), p. 56.

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