Magazine article The Christian Century

Reason for Hope

Magazine article The Christian Century

Reason for Hope

Article excerpt

A FRIEND OF MINE recently announced that he had lost hope for the human race. The news each day was so consistently and relentlessly depressing, he said, that he was certain that the human project had run its course. We might flail about for a few more centuries, but the end of civilization was in sight.

A study published in Science magazine last summer announced that global warming is approaching a tipping point after which no reversal will be possible. Marine life will perish, more and more species will become extinct, coastal areas will flood regularly, and there will be more violent weather more often.

Meanwhile ISIS has released a video showing its militants destroying priceless historical artifacts in the Mosul Museum in northern Iraq. This act of cultural genocide reminds me of reports of the sack of Rome in 410 CE. In The Sack of Rome, a painting by Joseph-Noel Sylvestre, two naked Visigoth warriors are climbing a Roman statue and placing a rope around its neck in order to pull it to the ground and destroy it. St. Jerome wrote, "If Rome can perish, what can be safe?"

My analogy may be as hyperbolic as my friend's announcement. Yet there are days when I find myself thinking a lot about his conclusion that there is no hope. …

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