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
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Philosophy, Theology and Moral Theology, St Athanasius College, 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 1200 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 (20 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Victim to Victor: The Appeal of Apocalyptic Hope
Religions 2020, 11(9), 455; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090455 - 05 Sep 2020
Viewed by 867
Abstract
Jewish apocalyptic literature emerged as a form of resistance literature during the intertestamental period. A product of marginalized communities, such literature is highly political, articulating the worldview of the politically oppressed and those who considered their religious freedoms to be under threat. As [...] Read more.
Jewish apocalyptic literature emerged as a form of resistance literature during the intertestamental period. A product of marginalized communities, such literature is highly political, articulating the worldview of the politically oppressed and those who considered their religious freedoms to be under threat. As resistance literature, apocalypses cathartically utilize vivid descriptions of violence and poetic symbols of hope to encourage those who identify as victims to maintain their resistance to political pressure or injustice. This paper explores the ways the Christian Book of Revelation builds on this tradition to envisage hope in the face of systemic evil, political oppression, and injustice. Neither the noun nor verb for hope appear in Revelation, yet its eschatological vision of vindication, victory, and shared rule in New Jerusalem for those who are oppressed has inspired many Christians to hope for a new world order with significant implications for the present. After considering the historical context of Revelation, this paper will examine the ways the apocalyptic imagination of Revelation continues to be invoked and (mis)used in contemporary Christianized political discourse. I argue that the Book of Revelation continues to appeal precisely because it offers a framework for believing that the victim will become the victor in the eschaton. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Responses to Apocalypse: Early Christianity and Extinction Rebellion
Religions 2020, 11(8), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080384 - 24 Jul 2020
Viewed by 923
Abstract
The Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has grown rapidly in the past two years. In popular media, XR has sometimes been described using religious terminology. XR has been compared to an eco-cult, a spiritual and cultural movement, and described as holding apocalyptic views. Despite [...] Read more.
The Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has grown rapidly in the past two years. In popular media, XR has sometimes been described using religious terminology. XR has been compared to an eco-cult, a spiritual and cultural movement, and described as holding apocalyptic views. Despite XR lacking the distinctive religiosity of new testament and early (pre-150ACE) Christianity, the movement resonates with the early Christian experience in several ways. (1) A characterization of events within the world as apocalyptic. (2) Both feel vulnerable to the apocalypse in specific ways, though each responds differently. (3) Both experience the apocalypse as a community and develop community strategies in response to the apocalypse. The paper sketches certain features of new testament Christianity and compares some of these to XR. The main difference between the two movements is that XR makes decisions to actively become vulnerable, whereas new testament Christianity was more often passively vulnerable. Elements of new testament Christianity provide a context for understanding XR as a response to an apocalypse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Beastly Boasts and Apocalyptic Affects: Reading Revelation in a Time of Trump and a Time of Plague
Religions 2020, 11(7), 346; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070346 - 10 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1106
Abstract
Waxing “biblical,” Donald Trump has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “plague.” In a different but related register, millions of Christians worldwide have interpreted the pandemic as one of the eschatological plagues prophesied in the Book of Revelation. This article appropriates the reading [...] Read more.
Waxing “biblical,” Donald Trump has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “plague.” In a different but related register, millions of Christians worldwide have interpreted the pandemic as one of the eschatological plagues prophesied in the Book of Revelation. This article appropriates the reading tactics of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, together with the resources of affect theory, to connect the Book of Revelation with both the Trump phenomenon and the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the article attempts to relate Revelation’s Beast to Trump (to unleash the Beast against Trump) non-eschatologically, in a non-representationalist reading strategy, and to analyze how Trump has manipulated the pandemic for his post-ideological ends. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Hoping against Hope: Dealing with Hopelessness in Ancient Times and Today
Religions 2020, 11(7), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070331 - 03 Jul 2020
Viewed by 863
Abstract
The hope of Abraham was “hope against hope,” the apostle Paul notes in a famous passage in his letter to the Romans 4:18. Such is the hope of the underdog, whose hope is not backed up by the powers that be, manifest by [...] Read more.
The hope of Abraham was “hope against hope,” the apostle Paul notes in a famous passage in his letter to the Romans 4:18. Such is the hope of the underdog, whose hope is not backed up by the powers that be, manifest by the prevalent empires of the day. Any discussion of hope in this context needs to deal with the limits of hope that have been expressed powerfully by Miguel De La Torre in his book Embracing Hopelessness (2017). As a result, the faith of Abraham that led to hope against hope cannot be blind faith, or what has sometimes been called “the power of positive thinking.” COVID-19 has once again reinforced this insight. Only when the challenges and the roadblocks to faith and hope are seen and embraced, and when false hope is exposed for what it is, can glimpses of real hope break through. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Melancholy, Narcissism and Hope in Truth
Religions 2020, 11(6), 312; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060312 - 24 Jun 2020
Viewed by 862
Abstract
The fate of a ‘correlational’ approach to truth, which defines contemporary epistemological theories of knowledge, is described as inescapable by Quentin Meillasoux. If Meillasoux is right, then we are far from being able to hope in truth, if we are to follow the [...] Read more.
The fate of a ‘correlational’ approach to truth, which defines contemporary epistemological theories of knowledge, is described as inescapable by Quentin Meillasoux. If Meillasoux is right, then we are far from being able to hope in truth, if we are to follow the philosopher, Andrea Bellantone’s identification of correlation with narcissism and melancholia in La métaphysique possible. In order to understand correlation as narcissism and melancholy, one needs to reconsider the ineluctability of a metaphysical perspective, which pivots around the ultimacy of both being or reality, and the disclosive power of mind. According to Bellantone, human existence is faced with the overwhelming, superabundant and inexhaustible circumstance of being and its multiplicity. In the face of this multiple donation, one cannot avoid offering a joyous response, an appropriate counter-gift. As to what this gift is to be, this depends upon one’s intuitive and interpretative understanding of the import of being as such. Although this question is unanswerable, one cannot avoid it. Even a single being presents a saturated presence to one: a stone does not disclose all of itself, or all of its infinitely ramifying connections with other entities. A metaphysical answer to reality, a certain ‘taking’ of the real, even though one must ceaselessly modify this taking, is unavoidable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Kierkegaard in the Anthropocene: Hope, Philosophy, and the Climate Crisis
Religions 2020, 11(6), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060279 - 07 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1002
Abstract
What is the role of hope in the climate crisis? What type of hope does this crisis demand? How can we sustain hope, in order to resist falling into fatalistic despair or paralyzing fear, whilst always guarding against hope giving way to happy [...] Read more.
What is the role of hope in the climate crisis? What type of hope does this crisis demand? How can we sustain hope, in order to resist falling into fatalistic despair or paralyzing fear, whilst always guarding against hope giving way to happy complacency? This essay considers these urgent questions through a novel encounter between the Christian philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard, and recent eco-critical and empirical research on the affectivity of climate change mobilization. I begin by outlining the scope and aims of this essay (1st section), before introducing some affective dimensions of the climate crisis (2nd section), particularly the place of hope. Next, I examine Kierkegaard’s account of hope, and explore the extent to which it corresponds to the type of hope needed in the climate crisis (3rd section). Here, I show that Kierkegaardian hope is a therapeutic practice which subverts the eco-anxiety and sense of helplessness that can otherwise prevent individuals from engaging in positive climate action. Finally, I compare Kierkegaard’s theologically grounded hope with the hope held by climate change activists without religious faith (4th section). Participating in collective climate action anchors the individual’s hopes in a larger, collective hope, which I suggest is sustainable in ways that are partially analogous to the therapeutic functions of Kierkegaard’s Christian hope. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1437
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
Viewed by 718
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
Viewed by 626
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
Viewed by 1451
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 3 | Viewed by 1450
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
Viewed by 762
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 | Viewed by 1066
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
Viewed by 919
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
Viewed by 890
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 946
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1104
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
Viewed by 1854
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
Viewed by 1372
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
Viewed by 1690
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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