The point I wish to make here is that I think it is probably a waste of time for Christians desparately to try and generate some grounds for hope in this world – but I would observe that many Christians (including myself) are prone to do this. I mean, we tend to use the wriggle-room of uncertainty about the future to insert some grossly improbable scenarios about what might happen – like tens of millions of people suddenly becoming Christian (at the last minute).
When the future of this world is evaluated as hope-less, this means it is unworthy of any specific hope; and it is wrong to push for (almost-certainly) futile hopes – when there are so many other things that need to be done, that we personally can do, and which have much better hopes of yielding fruit.
Hope for this world? And/or the next?
I disagree on the grounds that irrational hopes and efforts in service thereof are the best signs of love for the object toward which they’re directed. If parents don’t try to save a child at greater personal expense than economic utility would predict, we would rightly criticize them as inappropriately unloving and callous, and therefore unChristian. Or as Patrick said so well recently:
Personally I fail to see the hedonism in turning your children into Amazon warehouse workers whose working conditions are dictated by $7ph safety engineers. Personally I think this is horrifying. But hey… each to their own.
If we take this as true, that lack of the signs of love always indicate a lack of their cause (actual felt love), then love must produce the signs of it (proof by contrapositive).
Not irrational investment => Not love
Love => Irrational investment
The principle generalizes to kin, kith, nation, etc. in weaker forms, appropriate to the devotion we owe to such things (as compared to our own children). To be explicit, what I’m saying is if you don’t invest an irrational level of effort into the people you love, to the point that it hurts you deeply and personally to see them fall, then you are certainly a wicked person who’s going to Hell and still in need of salvation.
There is still much to be said about the Al-Anon concept of “detaching with love” (our loved ones are clearly addicts headed for a rock bottom and possibly death) but I think modern people need to start at the foundation, which is the loving part. You have to want to take care of other people before you start wanting to take care of yourself to take care of other people, because getting those backward means purity-spiraling into psychopathy and preaching about bootstraps to maximize your holier-than-thou passive upcummies stream. This is one of those paradoxes like “in order to live you have to give your life away to God”.
Otherwise I agree with the rest of Charlton’s post, which is very good.