Many people, stressed by the election and the seeming endless stream of beloved-celebrity deaths were happy to see the backside of 2016. And yet, 2017 doesn’t seem to be offering much joy. Religion Dispatches, though, is offering Ten Tendrils of Hope for 2017; an article by Peter Laarman with concrete foundations for hopeful action.
In years past I have sometimes been tasked by RD with working up a year-end list of religion-implicated stories that were either missed or botched in the mainstream media. This year the looming Trumpocalypse renders this kind of parsing exercise somewhat de trop.
On the other hand, “Ten Reasons To Shoot Ourselves in the Face” struck me and the editors as slightly too dramatic, whereas “Ten Reasons to Rejoice” rang false in what we must acknowledge is a very grim time. I propose “tendrils of hope” as an apt formulation. Tendrils are living things, and they are often much stronger than they look. Readers are urged to quarrel with this list or make up their own list. The point is to keep hope alive.
You can check them out for yourself, but they include:
4. Contested faith, second instance. Let’s not forget Pope Francis’s continuing emphasis on forgiveness & restoration. Yes, I know: these hints and gestures are baby steps at best. But they remain significant in the context of a ginormous institution that was self-asphyxiating for so many decades. Plus Francis is slowly but surely reshaping the College of Cardinals—the ultimate “electoral college” from a Catholic point of view.
5. No peace without justice. There is no sign of diminishing energy, and in fact there is strengthening determination everywhere, to move forward on all the critical issues raised by #BlackLivesMatter.
6. Spirit of Standing Rock. The powerful Native American spirituality shining through at Standing Rock has not only given strength to the anti-pipeline protest in North Dakota but has also prompted long-overdue repentance on the part of some Christians. As well, the significance of American military veterans showing up in numbers offers another marker of the very important conscientization now going on among the veterans of America’s more recent imperial adventures.
7. Prayerful Democrats. It can’t be bad to see sober reflection among the leading national Democrats about having lost their way. Finally there’s some recognition that they can’t cater to the whims and wishes of the 1 percent and still expect to pass muster as the “party of the people.” We can also take heart from the evident determination of the progressive states, led by California, to defend immigrant communities and to push forward on climate change mitigation in the teeth of Trump’s wrecking crew.
Image: photo by Ann Fontaine