Post-election thoughts

I was invited to share a reading for a campus gathering in Red Square last Wednesday in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election results. I found myself recalling a passage from Václav Havel (1936 – 2011) — writer, philosopher, political dissident, and statesman. For his efforts, Havel spent a considerable amount of time in prison. Ironically, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, he went on to serve his country as the last president of Czechoslovakia (1989-92) and then as the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). In a book titled, Disturbing the Peace, (I love that title!) written before the fall of the Soviet Union when his country was still ruled by the Communist Party, he describes what he calls the “politics of hope”:

“Hope is a state of mind, not a state of the world. Either we have hope within us or we don’t. Hope is not a prognostication—it’s an orientation of the spirit. You can’t delegate that to anyone else.

Hope in this deep and powerful sense is not the same as joy when things are going well, or the willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something to succeed.

Hope is definitely NOT the same as optimism. It’s not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

It is hope, above all, that gives us strength to live and to continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now. In the face of this absurdity, life is too precious a thing to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily, without meaning, without love, and, finally, without hope.”

I’m interested in learning where you turn for sources of hope. You can email me at In the meantime, a blessed Thanksgiving to you! We at PLU are grateful for your partnership! jpr

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Is PLU Lutheran Enough?

PLU's Lutheran identity is an ongoing conversation topic both on and off campus. In its efforts to become a university that better reflects its surrounding community, is PLU losing its Lutheran identity? Has the ``L`` become silent? Here's a response.