“And Now Abides Faith, Hope and Love”  — Does Anyone Really Give a Damn!

Faith-Hope-LoveI like to think my major theme as a blogger is “Social and Political Commentary and Satire.”  However, I often talk about justice, equality, respect, diversity, values and a whole range of subjects that can come across as religious, theological or at least speaking of morals from a high bully pulpit.  Many times, my writing of these subjects has helped to clarify in my own mind what they mean to me and what relevance they have or could have in my life.  (Listen to the Song “Lullaby” by SIA as you read my blog this week. The lyrics are wonderful as is her voice).

If you attend some church or temple or synagogue or mosque, you have probably been told more times than you can count how important virtues, morals, grace, ethics, and values really are.  If so, my blogs may seem repetitious and like preaching to the choir.  You know everything I have to say.  Why is he telling me these things? Who does he think he is?  My answer is simply this:

“I am a former atheist, now agnostic, taking a look at some presumptions given by others on how best to live our lives.”  Any value or insights I can offer on these subjects comes from looking at them through (I Hope) a different lens.  I reject most orthodoxy and usually identify with the radical elements of theory and reality.  My goal is to bring more mindfulness to the world and I think we can only do that by discussing subjects that we think we understand or in many cases that we are certain we understand.  My subjects for my next three blogs fit this description very well.

For the next three weeks starting today, I would like to look at the three most often described theological virtues in the world.  I suddenly realized that I don’t know what they mean.  It seems they should be more prominent in my life but often I only pay lip service to them.  Probably like many people, I hear the words but do not know the meanings.  Or I read the meanings but do not assimilate the importance in my actions and daily activities.

The three theological virtues I am referring to include:

What do these three virtues mean to an agnostic?  What do they mean to a world that grows less and less religious every day?  What do they mean if you are not religious but view yourself as spiritual?  Are they simply a remnant of Christian thinking or are they important for everyone?  Come along with me as I take a journey to investigate each of these virtues and see what if any relevance they might have for the world today.  By the way, if you think that these are common virtues and that everyone has Faith, Hope and Love, simply look at the newspaper today and see how many of these virtues are implicit or explicit in the actions of our leaders and “role models.”

I want to start with Hope:

Why you may ask start with Hope?  Answer:  I have often thought that Hope was a futile wasted effort.  A fiction placed on us by spiritual leaders and politicians to help keep us docile and obedient.

  • Hope you will win the lottery. Buy lottery tickets!
  • Hope you will get a better job. Vote for me!
  • Hope you will make it big. Go to the casino!
  • Hope your cancer will be cured. Pray to the lord and put your donations in the box!
  • Hope the world will be a safe place for you and your children. Pay your taxes!

Hope, in my mind has been a pacifier.  It keeps you running in the rat race and paying homage to those who want your Hope.  God wants your Hope. Your religion wants your Hope. Your country wants your Hope. Everyone wants a piece of your Hope.

  • “Let’s keep hoping things will be better.”
  • “Let’s vote for Hope.”
  • “Let’s run Hope for office.”
  • “Let’s have the audacity to Hope.”

“Once again Hitler reduced his demand to a formal profession of faith that would be binding upon me: ‘If you could at least Hope that we have not lost!  You must certainly be able to Hope … that would be enough to satisfy me.’   I did not answer.” 

Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer, R. Winston & C. Winston (trans.) (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971), 452–3.

It has been said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”  Perhaps Hope is the tranquilizer that our leaders (both political and spiritual) regularly inject us with to insure our compliance and submissiveness.

What good does Hope do if all around us things are going to hell? 

Do I sound skeptical?  Were you expecting a plethora of exhortations to Hope, Hope, and Hope some more?  We are hemorrhaging and they ask us to have Hope. Keep hoping until you bleed to death.  “Hope for the best” they keep saying.  Did you expect me to give you “Ten GOOD Reasons to Have Hope?”  “Never give us Hope.”

To rephrase Shakespeare:  I have taken here some liberty with his words.

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to praise Hope, not to bury her.”

statue of hopeDid you know that the three virtues are usually depicted as women?  Why do you think that is?

  • Faith – cross, pointing upward, staff and chalice, lamp, candle, hands together with fingers extended together
  • Hope – anchor, harp, flaming brand, palm, hands with fingers closed interdigitated
  • Love – flaming heart, with children, gathering fruit, hands crossed over heart

Actually, I tell you the truth.  I have come to praise the role of Hope and not to bury yours.  My caveat however will be evident in this dialogue.  It is simply this:

“Hope without action is futile.  Action without Hope is pointless.”  —- J. Persico

Yes, I quote myself.  Nevertheless, let us examine my quote in more detail.

“Hope without action is futile.”

A comment that I have used a great deal is “pray to the Lord but row for the shore.”  Intent without action is meaningless and hopeless.  The purpose of Hope is to give us something to strive for.  Hoping for success, happiness, wealth, good health or better politicians without being willing to work for these things is the ultimate in laziness, naiveté and stupidity.  Have you noticed that good things come to those who are willing to work for them?  Thomas Jefferson said: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” 

laziness_a834e2_1332585The concept of entitlement (much used to describe today’s workers) suggests that somehow our birthright or DNA entitles us to such things as money, good health, happiness and success.  However, the Founding Fathers did not say we were entitled to any of these things nor does Jesus in the New Testament suggest that we are.  The Declaration of Independence says we are “entitled” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It does not say anything about an education, health care, money or success.  It also uses the word “Pursuit” and not something stronger.  If you want happiness, you must pursue it.  This means you can Hope for happiness, but you must work for it.

The apostle James says:  “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”  James 2:14

James might just as well have substituted the word Hope for faith.  Hoping for salvation, nirvana, satori, enlightenment or any other spiritual awakening is useless if you do not take action on your Hopes and dreams.

“Action without Hope is pointless.”

energizer-bunnyHave you ever seen the energizer Bunny?  He or she is an example of action without Hope.  Hope kindles in us a possibility for better things.  It is a dream of something that transcends our daily existence and offers us the possibility of a better tomorrow.  Hopes and dreams are complimentary ideas. Few of us Hope for a worse reality than the one we may currently face.  We Hope for things that we do not have. We Hope for happiness. We Hope for good health for our loved ones.  We Hope for a world where people will be safe and secure.

Many people are busy everyday but they do not know why.  We multitask.  We shop till we drop.  We watch TV nonstop on the weekends.  We fight hours of daily traffic to get to our jobs.  We keep moving at work to insure we will seem busy and productive.  We tell everyone we know how busy we are.  We retire and we become busier than ever.  Once retired we are so busy we cannot figure out how we once had time for work.  We have NO TIME.  We even have had a song that immortalized this problem by the Guess Who:  No Time . One song I particularly like that also describes this problem is by Alabama called:  “I’m in a Hurry.”   The following are the lyrics for the song:

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why.

no timeDon’t know why
I have to drive so fast
My car has nothing to prove
It’s not new
But it’ll do 0 to 60 in 5.2

Can’t be late
I leave plenty of time
Shaking hands with the clock
I can’t stop
I’m on a roll and I’m ready to rock

I hear a voice
That say’s I’m running behind
I better pick up my pace
It’s a race
And there ain’t no room
For someone in second place.

As we rush pointlessly about our lives, the pointlessness of our endeavors suggests that we have really nothing to do of any potential importance but we rush anyway.  What some might say is that we rush to prevent our inevitable appointment with death.

“In Osho’s library, there is a book open at a page where Osho has written, in big letters, ‘The journey itself is the goal’. I used to pass that book every day, always busy with some object to be achieved. Certainly too busy to take the words in. Then one day, the meaning just hit me. Like a sledge hammer. I realized that I had spent my whole life obsessively active, always aiming for a goal, whether completion of some project, or finding a solution to some problem.”Anando

Hope is like the temper to the steel. The blade is no good unless it is tempered. We need Hope in our lives to point us to something more than just rushing around doing things.  Spending energy without focus or purpose is just what the Energizer Bunny is doing until he finally winds down.

My Conclusions:

quote-what-i-would-say-to-the-young-men-and-women-who-are-beset-by-hopelessness-and-doubt-is-that-they-abbe-pierre-145752It should be clear “I Hope” that I am not against Hope. I am for dreams and a better world. I am for looking to things as we would dream they could be and not as they are.  However, I am against idle dreaming without action to help bring about the fruition of our Hopes.  It has been said that you can measure a human by the breath of their dreams.  I think we can also measure someone by the breadth and depth of their Hopes.  Who among us simply wants to accept the reality that is and not have Hope for another world with more peace, justice, equality and happiness for everyone.

Time for Questions:

What are your biggest Hopes and dreams?  What Hopes have you had come true for you or your loved ones?  What do you do about your Hope to help make them a reality?  Do agree that Hopes and action must go together? Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you Hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”   ― Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone






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