The last post covered my raw struggle. But life is not struggle. It is tension. We are crucified in the tension of struggle and hope. So what is hope? Hope is that it all ends in perfection. Utopia.
My fantastic wife Lee is an A-level English teacher at the local comprehensive school. The prescribed literature genre this year centre on dystopian literature, including Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
This made us talk about the merits or de-merits of dystopian literature for teenagers in a time of covid, climate change, teenage social media induced mental fatigue, massive national debt, house prices, uncertain job markets and brexit (each country will have their own list of horrors).
Surely young people need little reminder of the grim world they are inheriting from the previous generation. It seems almost cynical to rub their noses into this particular literature genre at this present time.
Although grim expectation may make the reader feel strangely happy that after all things could in fact get even worse. There seems to be infinite levels to descend into the abys, reference Zimbabwe, Somalia, Afghanistan, and many more modern bottom chasers.
The good news is that globally deep poverty is receding. My day job is all about this. The poorest of the poor are getting slightly wealthier. The desperate issues of disease and deprivation are on the improving tract, but slowly. We are in fact the richest generation ever to live on this planet. So why does it feel like we are descending into a deep mess of dystopia?
We are taught to pray ‘On earth, as it is in heaven’. This means that we are to lift our heads to will and desire towards some sort of utopia, a kingdom of heaven right here on earth. Descending city of God. A kingdom that is told us to be right now available and open for engagement.
Yet the constant battle is to get rid of the ‘angry god’ syndrome. The imaginary head tyrant that feeds of our shame. The one that picks at our imperfections, reminds us constantly of our shortcomings. That wants us to feel even more dreadfully sorry for our sins. The gloater of imperfection, the quick and severe judge who remembers everything for all eternity. One easily offended to walk away and leave us roasting in our dystopian state. A pernicious hider, challenge setter, tester, and torturer. The great searchlight that never blinks on our bumbling, klutzy, wilful floppers. It’s a misery that begets misery, perennially pregnant with demons. Hell now, why wait.
The echo chamber that amplifies this dystopian first and tightest of concentric circles of the inner foe is religion and most of its various manifest constructs of organisation making up the second of our oppressive circles. The third circle is the media, advertising, fashion, financers, celebrities, influencers, politicians and all the other chattering commentators exposing all our lack, fears and needs. And slowly we are choked by the python of dystopia, the snake of our demise and we choke, gasp and die.
When God comes out of the closet, and we find out that:
1. We are loved with proper highest quality love.
2. God likes nothing more than to hang out with us.
3. We are endowed with sacred seed.
Suddenly, utopia seems a remote possibility.
This is our hope. This hope is stronger than all the other contrarian existential evidence dystopian mirage.
God is. God rewards seekers.
This challenged me to say with this end in mind, let me work backwards to the present. What does utopia -1 look like, then utopia -2, etc. It was so much easier to step backwards step-by-step until it starts to feel like the current now.
Next, I reversed the list, flipped it on its head to start now and plot a roadmap forward. I know and fully realise that if you do this that your map will be quite different from mine. It is not being right that matters but the process of mapping out something to build our own faith-confidence (faithidence), express our hope, engage our holy creative imagination.
This map I use for meditation and conversation with God. Somehow it earths what otherwise can become very ethereal, makes blindly groping the elephant granular and personal. Whatever is good, think on this. Plot out a narrative of hope. Partake in a story with a happy ending. Build utopia. Then let us get together and share a happy throng. A mop of believers. A happy folk, hopeful in real utopia. Imagine such a movement. Waft this yeasty light omitting radiance in the present darkness… and to the pure all things start to be pure and following them is a train of goodness and mercy for all the days of the life left yet to explore. (Got a bit Disney in the end, but I hope you get the feeling).