Hoping One’s Way to Meaning

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(Presentation for the service on Sunday 20th  November, 2011 by Eric Stevenson.)

Our  mission therefore is so to live in hope that life, being finely tuned, will always be recognisable and valued and demonstrable among us. We are inspired by the hope that it will always be possible for us and our friends to passionately foster an enhanced sense of reverence for and admiration of all life and to promote it and live it to the full.  Our challenge, despite the threat of depression and disillusionment is to spend ourselves in preserving, cultivating, loving  and celebrating it within ourselves and all of nature.

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Readings for Eric Stevenson’s “Hoping One’s Way To Meaning”

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Gordon Livingstone MD on Hope in “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart” Hachette Press, 2004
“As we contemplate the inevitable losses that we have had to integrate into our lives, the way we grieve, and the meaning that we assign to our experience determine how we face the future. The challenge is to remain hopeful.
Many people choose a religious basis for their hope.  The idea that we live under the guiding hand of a merciful God and are promised life everlasting is a great comfort that answers for many believers the universal question, and shortest poem of human existence: “I, why?”  Religion also provides a way of dealing with the uncertainty and apparent randomness of serious loss since it ascribes purpose to all human events and we are relieved of the burden of understanding by a simple acknowledgement that God’s ways are both inscrutable and ultimately benign.
Those like me, unable or unwilling to relinquish our scepticism about easy answers to large questions, are left with the difficult task of living with uncertainty.  Not for us is the comfort of religious formulations.  Instead we must struggle to establish some basis for meaning for our lives that does not depend on a belief in a system that requires continual worship of a deity that created us and gave us a set of instructions, which, if followed will defeat the death that is our common fate.“
Albert Schweitzer says, “Life in all its forms is sacred.  It is therefore to be revered and respected, not just in ourselves but in all living things.  This right thinking about life leads to reverence for life, which leads to responsibility for life, which equates with active love and devotion towards life.  That being so, my valuing of life becomes the ground for determining what is the best good. i.e. the best good is everything I do which contributes to the furtherance and fullest development of life in all its forms.
Michael Duffy in News Review SMH August 20/21, 2011, IN TRUTH WE’RE NATURAL BORN LIARS….If it were true religious belief is a product of evolution this could explain several features of modern life.  One is the apparent rise of mental illness, including depression.  David Tacey (in God’s and Diseases, Harper Collins} suggests the loss of religious belief is responsible for the rise in these problems.  …..We turn our backs on it (religious surrender) at our peril.  e.g the idea of the after life, so important in many religions.  If “the mind is unable to affirm any such life , we end up in a stalemate which is a source of neurosis in modern times.”  Duffy concludes, A crude secular version might go like this ; on the one hand our heads, thanks to modernity tell us there is no god,; on the other our hearts,thanks to evolution  insist we believe in god.   Some of us find no difficulty making a choice, and go with head or heart even if for some atheists the choice is a bleak one.  But others of us cannot make a choice.  .. Our minds tell us our heart is lying but the lie refuses to leave us.

Caroline Jones, “An Authentic Life”
“The choice is ours.  If we want to live life to the full, we must find some context for suffering and as constructive way to deal with it.  We need a reservoir of reason and courage to accompany us on our trials.  Whichever ….. philosophy of life we choose to be our guiding light needs to have the integrity to carry us through…..with a sense of hope.“