I more optimistic at 40 than I’ve been before…

I don’t usually like optimists.  I especially dislike a certain brand of Christian optimists.  You know these people. They reframe every negative with a positive.  They’ve arrived and you haven’t.  They have the car, the beautiful spouse, and the ear-to-ear smile to prove it.  And Jesus has given it all to them…

In college, I was a philosophy major.  In my sophomore year, the movie Dead Poet’s Society had many of us sneaking out late at night with flashlights and poetry, ready to lament the disappointments of love, authority, capitalism, religion, and more.  Me and my Bono-loving friends who were the good boys in church youth group left our posts at Joshua Tree to follow Bono and the band into the ‘Zoo’ of the complicated 1990’s. My cynicism and pessimism embraced the zeitgeist of that decade.

I went to seminary not so much to be a pastor as to find faith again.  God found me again in the summer of 1997 while I was studying in England.  I started reading Tom Wright.  And I discovered the mystics.  Both would help put my faith back together again.

St. John of the Cross taught me that there was a dark night of the soul, but that the purpose of the night was to prepare us for the dawn.  In St. John’s poetic and mystic Christian reflections, I found an honest expression of life’s frontier edges and shadow moments that made faith more believable.  In the great New Testament scholar Tom Wright, I found the expression of faith in narrative.  Wright told a Story, and it was a Story that was compelling.  I wanted to participate in it.  Ironically, St. John and Bishop Wright were both telling the Story, albeit in unique ways, of a night followed by a dawn, a death followed by a Resurrection.

I lived a majority of my Christian life stuck at Good Friday.  The optimism comes because Easter light has broken through.  In this decade, my hope is to live more and more into this Resurrection life.

~ by Chuck DeGroat on August 7, 2010.

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