Friday, January 11, 2008

The Bible is not a guide to optimism. It is a guide to hope.

Patton Dodd is the author of “My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion.” Therese Borchard recently did an interview with him for her blog, Beyond Blue, which you can read here ...

Patton writes:

Optimism doesn't let you acknowledge what's wrong with your life; it encourages you to lie to yourself, and over the course of the years, to live in willful blindness to your real problems. Optimism tells you to be positive no matter the circumstances—which, if you can't keep it up, is a recipe for depression.

Hope lets you be honest about the circumstances, and still urges you to look toward something better. The testimony of the Apostle Paul, Augustine, John Calvin, Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Day, and many other Christian saints attests to the power of hope. Hope is part of the longstanding tradition of the Christian faith because it allows you to admit the condition of your life, warts and all, and trust that God can recreate that condition. That's the story that we're invited to participate in: God is at work renewing all things. Some of his work is now, and some of it is eventual, but we're called to have hope and join in that work. That—as I learned in those years of spiritual searching—is what it means to believe. Faith is found not in getting your best life now, but in having hope.

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