At a dinner in honor of a prominent guest, I was seated next to a woman who works for CBS.The tsunami had just struck off the coast of Sumatra with all its destructive force, and we were talking about the magnitude of desolation, the plight of the victims and the insanity of the event. She knew I was a theologian, so she broached the question of God. “Where was God?” she asked bluntly.
It was a few weeks after the election, and the question came at the conclusion of a report I had made to the university trustees. “We have been hearing a lot about red states and blue states, the role of religion in the election, and a lot of other things about religion in public life. There seems to be a lot of division.
Give yourself a treat and put Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope under your Christmas tree. Moltmann published the book in German 40 years ago. After it was translated into English three years later (1967), he became an instant theological celebrity in the U.S. The book even made it to the front page of the New York Times.
The holidays are here, with their intricate blessings and woes. There are presents to buy, visits to plan, cards to send and meals to prepare, at least for those who are so inclined. Those who are not may spend as much time resisting the blandishments of the season as others spend giving in to them, but either way few escape the Holiday Time Machine.
When Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, was asked what he would write to his 14-year-old self, he said: “Dear Justin, You are rarely good at anything, a fact you know well and worry about. But don’t worry—it does not measure who you are. Keep on dreaming of great things, but learn to live in the present so that you take steps to accomplish them. Above all, more important than anything, don’t wait until you are older to find out about Jesus Christ and his love for you. He is not just a name at chapel, but a person you can know. Christmas is not a fairy story, but the compelling opening of the greatest drama in history, with you as one of millions of players. Life will often be tough, but you will find more love than you can imagine now. With my love to you, Justin” (The Spectator, December 14).