Hoping Against Hope

“World history is a cemetery of broken hopes”

Paul Tillich

I made it three minutes into Tyra’s interview with folks from Westboro Baptist this morning before I had to turn over to something a little more uplifting.

Paul Tillich usually helps.

Here is a link to one of his sermons that I read at http://www.religion-online.org

The Right to Hope – Paul Tillich

Tillich a was a person of his time, therefore we’ll have to forgive him his use of gender-specific language.  With that in mind, here are a few inspiring quips:

But there are many things and events in which we can see a reason for genuine hope, namely, the seed-like presence of that which is hoped for. In the seed of a tree, stem and leaves are already present, and this gives us the right to sow the seed in hope for the fruit. We have no assurance that it will develop. But our hope is genuine. There is a presence, a beginning of what is hoped for. And so it is with the child and our hope for his maturing; we hope, because maturing has already begun, but we don’t know how far it will go. We hope for the fulfillment of our work, often against hope, because it is already in us as vision and driving force. We hope for a lasting love, because we feel the power of this love present. But it is hope, not certainty…

Is there a right to hope for mankind as a whole? There is one idea which has grasped the imagination of Western man, but which has already lost its power because of the horrors which have happened in our century; it is the idea of progress toward the fulfillment of the age-old hopes of man. This is still a half-conscious, half-unconscious belief of many people today. It is often the only hope they have, and its breakdown is a profound shock for them. Is progress a justified hope for man? In some respects it is, because man has received the power to control nature almost without limits and there is daily progress in science and in technical production. But the question is: Does this progress justify the hope for a stage of fulfillment? Certainly. Progress is a justified hope in all moments in which we work for a task and hope that something better and new will replace old goods and old evils. But whenever one evil is conquered, another appears, using the new which is good to support a new evil. The goal of mankind is not progress toward a final stage of perfection; it is the creation of what is possible for man in each particular state of history; and it is the struggle against the forces of evil, old ones and new ones, which arise in each period in a different way…

The hope of mankind lies in the here and now, whenever the eternal appears in time and history. This hope is justified; for there is always a presence and a beginning of what is seriously hoped for.

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