Special Issue "Hope in Dark Times"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. John McDowell
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Guest Editor
Academic Dean and Professor of Philosophy, Theology and Moral Theology, St Athanasius College, 100 Park Road, Donvale, VIC3111, Australia
Interests: theology of hope, political theory, critical theory, modern German theology, German Idealism, theology of prayer, higher education, violence in popular culture, theology of Karl Barth

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Soon after the victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election a striking image appeared on a social media network. This was a photograph of a pavement advertisement board outside a bookshop. The board read: “Dystopian fiction now found in the political history section”. The end of history has not led to the clash of civilisations as much as the very conditions that may force one to ask with Nicholas Lash whether “a global conversation” is now even possible when non-agonistically disciplined relations become scarce and the ‘common’ of common interests or the common good is reduced to semantic nostalgia. A number of academic political analysists have developed Hannah Arendt’s notion of “dark times” in order to capture a sense of political conditions depictable in terms of concerns over the erasure of liberal democracy and the rise of an apocalyptic imagination.

In this special edition on Hope in Dark Times, papers are invited that help wrestle with these crucial questions for the times. Some areas the papers might explore include:

  • The apocalyptic imagination
  • Apocalyptic politics
  • Utopianism/dystopianism
  • The hopefulness of the eschatological imagination
  • Hope in consumer cultures
  • Hope and neo-imperialism
  • Hope in ‘religious’ traditions
  • Hope and common flourishing
  • Hope, terror and liberation
  • Hope’s relation to despair and optimism
  • Hope and the tragic imagination
  • Hope, hospitality and the neighbour

Prof. Dr. John McDowell
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Hope
  • eschtology
  • apocalyptic
  • shared flourishing
  • despair and optimism
  • utopianism and dystopianism
  • the tragic
  • terror
  • liberation
  • hospitality
  • neoliberalism
  • neo-imperialism

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Revolutionary Hope in Dark Times: Zizek on Faith in the Future
Religions 2020, 11(5), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050243 - 13 May 2020
Abstract
In this article, I interpret Zizek’s recent call to “abandon hope” and embrace the “courage of hopelessness,” as a provocation to articulate a new kind of utopia, rather than an endorsement of despair. On Zizek’s analysis, progressive hopes are currently directed towards fixing [...] Read more.
In this article, I interpret Zizek’s recent call to “abandon hope” and embrace the “courage of hopelessness,” as a provocation to articulate a new kind of utopia, rather than an endorsement of despair. On Zizek’s analysis, progressive hopes are currently directed towards fixing the existing situation, rather than accepting that the things that we hope will not happen are, in fact, about to happen—unless individuals, at last, summon the political resolution to act decisively. In a context of the “privatisation of hope,” however, where social despair has already been weaponised by the alt-Right, it is crucial to grasp Zizek’s intervention not as the expression of a tragic existential attitude of resignation to disaster, but as an effort to articulate the formal coordinates of a radical alternative. I interpret Zizek’s commentary, in the context of his overall theory of ideology, as an effort to articulate the “hope of the hopeless,” involving a kind of faith (in the future) without belief (in miracles), which requires the formulation of a new social principle that does not rely on the deceptive promise of a guaranteed positive outcome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
‘He Will Rescue Us Again’: Affliction and Hope in 2 Corinthians 1:8–11
Religions 2020, 11(5), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050222 - 01 May 2020
Abstract
Dark times can generate crippling despair all too easily. Resources for resistance to despair and for the discovery and articulation of hope are not always readily apparent. This essay considers Paul’s account of his own immersion in such a situation: An ‘affliction’ that [...] Read more.
Dark times can generate crippling despair all too easily. Resources for resistance to despair and for the discovery and articulation of hope are not always readily apparent. This essay considers Paul’s account of his own immersion in such a situation: An ‘affliction’ that left him ‘unbearably crushed’, ‘despairing of life itself’ (2 Cor 1:9), and under a ‘sentence of death’ (2 Cor 1:10). Making a speculative proposal about the nature of Paul’s experience, the essay goes on to argue that Paul identified two fundamental resources for hope. The first is a conviction about an eschatological act that undoes the sentence of death and effects the possibility of rescue or deliverance. The second is a form of human solidarity that generates potential reorientation to the reality of ‘rescue’. While the essay explores these ideas within the terms and framework of Paul’s rhetoric in 2 Corinthians, it will do so with one clear eye on the potential resources that Pauline theology offers those who live in inexplicably dark times today, not least by considering the potential resources for political optimism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Thoughtfulness and Hospitality: On Refusing Antagonistic Politics at the End of History
Religions 2020, 11(4), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040164 - 01 Apr 2020
Abstract
The paper is constructed around the issues involved for the critical interrogation of the instrumental rationality generating political thoughtlessness in the following claim: “Humanity is in crisis—and there is no exit from that crisis other than solidarity of humans”. [Zygmunt Bauman] To even [...] Read more.
The paper is constructed around the issues involved for the critical interrogation of the instrumental rationality generating political thoughtlessness in the following claim: “Humanity is in crisis—and there is no exit from that crisis other than solidarity of humans”. [Zygmunt Bauman] To even interrogate this as a crisis requires a depth-analysis of the hegemony of subject-formation, and this occurs in two markedly different ways. The first takes shape around a critical investigation of the neoliberalisation of subjectivity through Francis Fukuyama’s important text, The End of History and the Last Man. The second subjects the neoliberal post-political global subject to a competing antagonistic political construal in Samuel Huntington’s influential The Clash of Civilizations. The implication is of their importance to a genealogy of the range of contemporary political possibilities. The suggested repair takes the form of a particular gesture: a gesture towards subjecting the globally fractured subject takes shape within a theological configuration in terms of a Christic politics of neighbourliness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Lullaby: Births, Deaths and Narratives of Hope
Religions 2020, 11(3), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030138 - 18 Mar 2020
Abstract
Guided by the hopeful possibilities of birth, breath and beginning that Hannah Arendt and Luce Irigaray variously articulate, this paper examines the lullaby as an expressive form that emerges (in a variety of contexts as distinct as medieval Christendom and contemporary art) as [...] Read more.
Guided by the hopeful possibilities of birth, breath and beginning that Hannah Arendt and Luce Irigaray variously articulate, this paper examines the lullaby as an expressive form that emerges (in a variety of contexts as distinct as medieval Christendom and contemporary art) as narrative between natality and mortality. With narrative understood as praxis according to Arendt’s schema, and articulated in what Irigaray might designate as an interval between two different sexuate subjects, the lullaby (and the voice that sings it) is found to be a telling of what it is to be human, and a hopeful reminder of our capacity both for self-affection and -preservation, and for meeting and nurturing others in their difference. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
A Time for Hope in Dark Times
Religions 2020, 11(3), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030113 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This article explores the political importance of embracing a notion of hope in a time of growing authoritarianism across the globe. It defines hope as the ability to both mobilize what might be called a democratic imaginary and a notion of hope rooted [...] Read more.
This article explores the political importance of embracing a notion of hope in a time of growing authoritarianism across the globe. It defines hope as the ability to both mobilize what might be called a democratic imaginary and a notion of hope rooted in a realistic assessment of what it means to engage in forms of struggle for economic and social justice, both pedagogically and politically. We argue that hope is the bases for agency and that without hope, there is no agency of possibility of civic engagement and struggle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Cain and Abel: Re-Imagining the Immigration ‘Crisis’
Religions 2020, 11(3), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030112 - 06 Mar 2020
Abstract
This essay proposes to interpret the significance of the so-called immigration crisis in the light of the ancient story of Cain and Abel. Much more than a mere conflict between brothers, this essay will argue that the story of Cain and Abel presents [...] Read more.
This essay proposes to interpret the significance of the so-called immigration crisis in the light of the ancient story of Cain and Abel. Much more than a mere conflict between brothers, this essay will argue that the story of Cain and Abel presents two archetypal ways of dwelling in the world: the sedentary and the nomadic. As such, the story sheds a shocking new light on our present crisis, deeply problematizing the sedentary and revealing in an amazing tour de force, the hidden potentialities of the nomadic and the powerful rejuvenating force that comes with its inclusion and welcoming in the sedentary landscape that characterizes our Western societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Trump as Mirror for the Church: Death and Despair, Hope and Resurrection of the Church
Religions 2020, 11(3), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030107 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The election of Donald Trump inaugurated a wave of anxiety-bordering-on-despair among various peoples hoping for another, better world. This paper considers whether Trump deserves such acclaim in the sense that Trump is at best a symptom or cipher that can be approached by [...] Read more.
The election of Donald Trump inaugurated a wave of anxiety-bordering-on-despair among various peoples hoping for another, better world. This paper considers whether Trump deserves such acclaim in the sense that Trump is at best a symptom or cipher that can be approached by heeding Martin Luther’s observation that our politicians reflect who we are. To make this argument first I draw upon the work of Andrew Bacevich to suggest a certain continuity rather than apocalyptic break in recent American politics. Then I ask what the production of such politicians and politics says about American Christianity, which is far more frightening than the fleeting ascendancy of a mere Trump. In particular, using the National Study of Youth and Religion I suggest that the church in America suffers from a widespread failure of formation in the faith. What are we to make of this failure? Whence cometh hope? Building on Ephraim Radner’s interrogation of the divided church and on Jonathan Lear’s exploration of radical hope in the wake of cultural devastation, I will suggest both a theologically appropriate despair and also a hope for emergent forms and practices of faith capable of resisting the darkness of these times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Confession and Hope: Ekklesia’s Task in the Global Emergency
Religions 2020, 11(2), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020097 - 20 Feb 2020
Abstract
Humanity is currently faced with deadly dangers that could bring about the breakdown of civilization, and even the end of human life on earth in short order. The Marxist and Green thinker Rudolf Bahro spoke of a ‘logic of salvation’, which involved a [...] Read more.
Humanity is currently faced with deadly dangers that could bring about the breakdown of civilization, and even the end of human life on earth in short order. The Marxist and Green thinker Rudolf Bahro spoke of a ‘logic of salvation’, which involved a return to the idea of God. Ekklesia arose as a witness to such a logic of salvation. It can be understood as a social movement, that sketches out a prefigurative politics that can then be realised. The contemporary church needs to recover this understanding, adopting climate change as a confessional issue that defines its common life. This could be part of a practical logic of salvation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Fodder for Despair, Masquerading as Hope: Diagnosing the Postures of Hope(lessness) at the End of Life
Religions 2019, 10(12), 651; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120651 - 27 Nov 2019
Abstract
Hope is needed for persons confronting the limits of human life, antagonised by the threats of death. It is needed also for those health and medical professionals constrained by the institution of medicine, determined by market metaphors and instrumental reasoning. Yet, despair can [...] Read more.
Hope is needed for persons confronting the limits of human life, antagonised by the threats of death. It is needed also for those health and medical professionals constrained by the institution of medicine, determined by market metaphors and instrumental reasoning. Yet, despair can masquerade as hope for such persons when functional hoping for particular outcomes or aims proves futile and aimless. The following will examine such masquerades, while giving attention to particular expressions of autonomy, which persist as fodder for despair in our late modern milieu. The late classical account of Hercules and his death, as well as contemporary reasons for soliciting medical assistance in dying, will focus on the diagnostics of despair, while a Christian account practicing presence, and of hope as a concrete posture enfleshed by habits of patience, among other virtues, will point toward counter-narratives that might sustain persons in times of crisis and enable persons’ flourishing as human beings, even unto death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
A Process Theology of Hope: The Counter Apocalyptic Vision of Catherine Keller
Religions 2019, 10(10), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100584 - 18 Oct 2019
Abstract
Christianity continues to decline in the traditional west, yet is at the same time experiencing significant growth in the majority world. Research indicates that by 2060 the portion of those who identify as non-religious will decline significantly across the globe. Christianity in the [...] Read more.
Christianity continues to decline in the traditional west, yet is at the same time experiencing significant growth in the majority world. Research indicates that by 2060 the portion of those who identify as non-religious will decline significantly across the globe. Christianity in the future will largely be dominated by an apocalyptic eschatology that has the potential to disengage Christians from our current planetary crisis. Catherine Keller has developed a counter-apocalyptic vision that challenges traditional eschatology in its potential to disconnect faith from the planet’s most urgent challenges. Keller attacks a key facet of apocalyptic eschatology that enshrines an omnipotent deity. Her approach is evaluated within the broader process-relational theology from which she has emerged, particularly that influenced by Whitehead. It is argued that her eschatological alternative is best placed to offer a vision that enables Christians to take the earth seriously, to generate a chastened and realistic hope, grounded in a process relational ontology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Hope in Exile: In Conversation with Ezekiel
Religions 2019, 10(8), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080476 - 14 Aug 2019
Abstract
The question of hope in dark times, though topical, is not new. The Babylonian Exile (597/587–539 BCE) is commonly recognised as perhaps the most profound, yet also most fruitful crisis in biblical (Old Testament) times. It involved the total breakdown of all religious [...] Read more.
The question of hope in dark times, though topical, is not new. The Babylonian Exile (597/587–539 BCE) is commonly recognised as perhaps the most profound, yet also most fruitful crisis in biblical (Old Testament) times. It involved the total breakdown of all religious and political structures and institutions that previously had provided meaning and protection, yet it led to significant theological progress, laying the foundations for both Judaism and Christianity. Today the metaphor of exile is sometimes used with reference to the present; however, the connection is usually not further explored. This article examines a biblical exilic voice, the book of Ezekiel, which offers an initial prophetic response to the theological, political and identity crisis of the early Babylonian Exile. While resisting both optimism and despair, Ezekiel arrives at an original, if peculiar, imagination of hope, founded solely on theological conviction. The article outlines this process by discussing select texts of the book as examples, and opens it up to conversation with the present. The logic of Ezekiel’s theocentric hope is bound to ultimately remain foreign to modern thinking. However, while it cannot be directly transferred into our times, the article aims to demonstrate that theological reflection on Ezekiel still yields valuable and transferable impulses for thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
The Book of Revelation: Hope in Dark Times
Religions 2019, 10(4), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040239 - 31 Mar 2019
Abstract
Contemporary analysis of the world that produced the Book of Revelation suggests that Patmos was not a penal settlement, and there is little evidence that Domitian systematically persecuted Christians. The Emperor Cult was widely practiced, but Christians were not being persecuted for lack [...] Read more.
Contemporary analysis of the world that produced the Book of Revelation suggests that Patmos was not a penal settlement, and there is little evidence that Domitian systematically persecuted Christians. The Emperor Cult was widely practiced, but Christians were not being persecuted for lack of participation. The document makes much of God’s victory in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the slain and standing Lamb (Rev 5:6). The “saints” were not persecuted Asian Christians but, under the influence of the Book of Daniel, John’s presentation of those from Israel’s sacred history who lived by the Word of God and accepted the messianic witness of the prophets (8:3–4; 11:18; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:20, 24; 19:8; 20:6, 9). They already have life, the application of the saving effects of the slain and risen lamb “from the foundation of the world” (13:8). John addresses late first-century Asian Christians, presenting the model of these “saints,” offering them hope as they are tempted by the allure of the Greco-Roman world and its mores. He invites them into the life and light of the New Jerusalem, the Christian church (22:1–5). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Not One World but Two. The Future in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature
Religions 2019, 10(4), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040233 - 28 Mar 2019
Abstract
The Jewish apocalyptic literature that first appears in the Hellenistic period and continues into the Common Era developed a radically novel view of the future. As formulated in the apocalypse of 4 Ezra about the end of the first century CE, the Most [...] Read more.
The Jewish apocalyptic literature that first appears in the Hellenistic period and continues into the Common Era developed a radically novel view of the future. As formulated in the apocalypse of 4 Ezra about the end of the first century CE, the Most High created not one world but two. This world must be utterly destroyed and replaced by a new creation. This view of the future is inherited in the New Testament, most strikingly in the Book of Revelation. It would have enormous but ambivalent implications for western history. On the one hand, it threatened to undermine the importance of working for a better life in this world. On the other hand, it offered hope to those who would otherwise have no hope at all. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
“‘You Shall Love the Alien as Yourself’: Hope, Hospitality, and Love of the Stranger in the Teachings of Jesus”
Religions 2019, 10(3), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030220 - 22 Mar 2019
Abstract
The Trump administration’s controversial immigration policy has provoked significant opposition, including against a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government over Trump’s insistence on a “wall,” but the most outrage was generated by the “zero-tolerance policy” for refugees and asylum seekers that resulted [...] Read more.
The Trump administration’s controversial immigration policy has provoked significant opposition, including against a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government over Trump’s insistence on a “wall,” but the most outrage was generated by the “zero-tolerance policy” for refugees and asylum seekers that resulted in the forced separation of thousands of children from their parents. This essay evaluates the current U.S. policy in light of the life and teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament Gospels, beginning with the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13–15; cf. Deuteronomy 10:19–20) but focusing primarily on Jesus’s teachings on hospitality—including the love of neighbor and the stranger—for those people with their “backs against the wall,” in the words of Howard Thurman. Key passages include the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:26–37), the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31–46), and the Great Dinner (Luke 14:15–24). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
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