After a whirlwind week in Chicago, and some frantic planning for our upcoming Day of Interfaith Youth Service (REMINDER--Saturday, Nov. 7th--please see the flyer on the blog homepage, and RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org!), it feels strange to have spent this weekend in relative solitude, catching up on midterm papers and exam preparations. I've been looking over some of my old writings, and it's difficult to recognize the same person in those words. They seem so exquisitely crafted, elegant, opening to the heavens and receiving their waters. I am not so fluent in that language of heart any longer; I burn too much with the world's injustices, and those dark energies within of which they are reflections. At such times, prayer and surrender are my closest friends. I am more Catholic than I imagine.
How do we stimulate hope in our lives? This was a central question of a class I took last year called "Hope and Prophetic Politics: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, Jr." To hear them re-appropriate that prophetic narrative of love and justice, as emerging from the worst depths of the worst indignity and degradation, shining out in the thick of the traumatic and the catastrophic, challenged me deeply. Their hope was, as Cornel West would say, "a blues-inflected, jazz-saturated, tragicomic hope." I came to realize slowly that my own hope was grounded in a specific context: namely, that religiously motivated violence can end through interfaith cooperation for social justice; and moreover, that I myself represented the potential and the proof.
Our identities are fluid things, whether or not we consider ourselves religious. They constantly fall outside the rigid roles we are taught—these sad, meaningless assignations of societies and civilizations. Young people of our generation are forever on the borders of things; the question for us is: can we of multiple narratives, while acknowledging that they are not juxtaposed equally (for the legacies of white supremacy, patriarchy, and other power structures remain strong), still find them in mutual enrichment? Eboo Patel dares to say Yes, as does President Obama. My heart agrees. I understand the third chapter of the Bhagavad Gita better because I have read Kierkegaard's Works of Love, but I understand Kierkegaard precisely because I have studied the Bhagavad Gita.
These happy encounters are part of what gives me hope: the hope that our history is still being written, and is for us to redeem. Hope is unapologetic, once wrote a dear friend of mine. We should try to be more like hope.
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