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Episode Summary

Miroslav Volf considers the link between hope and fear.

Miroslav Volf on hope, part 1. The ancient observation that hope is linked to fear and how the Stoics simply gave up hoping; Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul"; the difference between hope and expectation or optimism.

Show Notes

  • “Perhaps, we just need to say it. This is not exactly a hopeful time”
  • “But hope is for the no exit scenario. Hope is for the life teetering on the edge”
  • Fear is more characteristic of our time than hope is
  • Optimism in the late 60s gave way to increasing pessimism in 21st century
  • Theologies of hopelessness are on the rise
  • How Covid has shaped our fear
  • Even before the pandemic, we feared more than we hoped
  • Dystopian movies and literature: we fear the loss of our culture
  • “Fear and hope seem like exclusive experiences, and that’s not entirely wrong, but it isn’t right either”
  • Seneca writes: “Cease to hope and you will cease to fear…. Each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future”
  • To give up on hope is to give up on any form of meaningful life
  • How our humanity is tied to our hope
  • “In fearing, we are still hoping”
  • “The challenge is not to retain hope, but to conquer fear. Not all fear, but the kind of fear that paralyses us”
  • How do we distinguish between hope and mere expectation?
  • “Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul/ And sings the tune without the words/ And never stops at all/ And sweetest in the Gale is heard/ And soar must be the storm/ That could abash the little bird/ That kept so many warm/ I've heard it in the chillest land/ And on the strangest sea/ And yet never an extremity,/ It asked a crumb of me” – Emily Dickenson
  • “In hope, a future good, which isn't yet, somehow already is”
  • Luther – "just as love transforms the lover into the beloved, so hope changes the one who hopes into what is hoped for."
  • The present is pregnant with the future
  • But hope does not come from what is happening in the present, it is something entirely new
  • Hope lives apart from reason
  • Hope and God belong together
  • “The God who creates out of nothing, the God who makes the dead alive, that God justifies hope that is otherwise unreasonable”

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