No, I’m not saying America is dying a slow death because of our weakened economy and fractious political process. Two pieces over at The Atlantic remind me that hope is a Christian virtue with relevance in these tough times as well as throughout the Christian life.
At the end of life, hope is important–not in the way it’s often talked about in terms of hope for a cure. But rather, hope in eternal life with God, the resurrection, and the re-creation of all things–including the elimination of disease–is important as we turn our attention from this life to the next.
In the political realm, hope allows us to overcome the despair that so easily enters when the government or the political system fails to deliver on the promises offered by those seeking public office. In the cover story at The Atlantic James Fallows writes about all the reasons why there is reason to believe that America–despite its current troubles–will continue its 400-year history of success as a society.
Interestingly, he discusses the Puritan use of the jeremiad, a “tradition of harsh warnings that reveal a faith that America can be better than it is.” It’s a tradition that continues today. In the jeremiad, we’re warned that we’re this close to damnation, but God will save us if we do the right thing. It’s condemnation followed by hope for redemption.
Megan McArdle, also in The Atlantic, writes about “America’s perpetual almost decline.” There are always doomsayers. Yet their worst predictions never come through. Despite the problems, “Democracy is springing up like mushrooms everywhere you look, poverty is steadily decreasing, though perhaps not as fast as we’d like, and wars are killing fewer and fewer humans each decade. The world is a pretty good place to live, and getting steadily better for almost everyone. As flawed as the human race is, we seem to be a lot better than the doomsayers think at muddling through.”
So whatever our troubles are, we have reason to hope. And if not in earthly things, than in the one who can make all things right.