Read This Book

Hope: A User’s Manual by MaryAnn McKibben Dana

“Love is awful. It’s awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. It makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life. It makes you selfish. It makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair, makes you cruel, makes you say and do things you never thought you would do. It’s all any of us want, and it’s hell when we get there. So no wonder it’s something we don’t want to do on our own. I was taught if we’re born with love then life is about choosing the right place to put it. People talk about that a lot, feeling right, when it feels right it’s easy. But I’m not sure that’s true. It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do. Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope. I think what they mean is, when you find somebody that you love, it feels like hope.” Wedding homily by The Hot Priest on Fleabag

It might seem strange to recommend a book and begin by quoting another author’s writing. And yet in these days, strange is the not-so-new normal. A Texas dad was forced to wrestle an alligator on his daughter’s first day of school so that she could safely leave the house. Champion Brewery in Virginia has a new beer (new in 2021) that was created to pair with Duke’s Mayonnaise. (Why?) “Wegner’s” and “crudite” are trending on Twitter. Progressive Democrats are pulling for Conservative Republicans.

Along comes MaryAnn’s consistent wisdom in her new book Hope: A User’s Manual. Who among us couldn’t use more hope?

This is not a perky, look-on-the-bright-side book. This is a devotional book for thinking people who want and need to hash things out for the sake of sanity. Imagine starting the fall season with a group of spiritually shaken friends pondering a way forward together in an uncertain world where white nationalism is picking up speed and What We’ve Always Done/Believed is shifting. This is your book.

For those of us who’ve read Moltmann and de la Torres, it’s clarifying. For those of us who feel like “the present is collapsing” around us, it’s encouraging. For those of us who feel stuck, it’s emancipating. For those who feel overwhelmed, it’s permission-giving.

If you’d like to get together for a Zoom group to be blessed by this book together on Wednesday nights in September (5-6 PM Eastern Time) please email me at jan.edmiston@presbyofcharlotte.org. Hope is indeed about love and we need more of it.

2 responses to “Read This Book

  1. Our pastor is finishing up the summer and heading towards a new season by preaching on hope. He says, “we all need hope to make it through these times.”

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  2. It sounds intriguing enough that I expect Amazon is only a few clicks away. I’m thinking that this resonates a bit with something I twigged on from a previous post of yours – the use of “serious” as a modifying adjective for Christian; one that I’m spending much thought with and thinking that it is so appropriate – especially compared to so many others that are overused. And I must add this – the book will no doubt be a find – but I want to know where one goes to learn how to mix the creamer into the coffee like the pic shows!

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