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God Talk

Yesterday I was asked by a group of children, out-of-the-blue and on video camera,

"Do you believe in an after-life?"

to which responded with, 

"I don't know."

End of discussion. It's funny because even with close family and most trusted friends, there is a hesitancy to engage in 'God Talk'. It's become a taboo, a reflection of our secularised culture. And yet in hindsight, I think when you are asked in such a straight-up non-judgemental way, it's liberating - you're left thinking,

"I wish I'd said more..."

Had I been feeling more confident - and particularly eloquent - I would have perhaps quoted Hay Quaker quoting Doug Muder:
"At times like these it is important to remember the difference between hope and optimism. Optimism is an expectation of the future, but hope is a way of experiencing the present. Optimism assures us that the oasis we see in the distance is not a mirage, but hope simply inspires us to keep going. Optimism promises specific outcomes, but hope just says that striving is worthwhile, that whether or not good things will happen, creating opportunity is a good thing in itself.
Optimism often lies, but hope never fails. Optimism argues with the predictions of cynicism and bitterness, and is often proved wrong. Hope rejects cynicism and bitterness as unhelpful, and is perennially proved right.

Hope cares for the eggs without counting the chickens that might come from them. Hope plants as wisely as it can, knowing that the rains and the harvest are uncertain. Hope is—right here and right now, whatever may happen in the future—a better way to live."
If I'd had two trees, a shovel, a small plot of land - and a watering can? - I might have even gone one step further.

I think people of the West today, living in the kind of material luxury our ancestors would have viewed as heaven, yet also existing in societies blighted by depressed and disaffection, do need to pose the bigger questions. We are conditioned into viewing idealistic people as somehow odd - as naive fantasists. Yet I think we all have that quiet nagging sense of something bigger and a need for hopeful answers - no matter what shape they may take. We just tend not to say so.

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