Hope Against Hope course to start at UUSD May 2

April 17, 2019

The Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware and Dr. Len Bowman will conduct a three-session course titled Hope Against Hope from 7:30 to 9 p.m., Thursdays, May 2, 9 and 16, at UUSD, 30486 Lewes-Georgetown Highway, Lewes. The series is open to the public.

Much of behavior and judgment is influenced by how the future is envisioned. At the core of that sense of the future is hope. Unfortunately, the influence of hope is often unconscious and uncritical. Hope also has different forms, which lead to very different and often conflicting behavior and judgment. A key to resolving such conflicts may lie in understanding the different forms of hope, and reaching beyond their opposition to a deeper hope, a “hope beyond hope.”

This series limits itself to the dominant forms of hope – visions of the future – expressed in the Bible. Prominent is apocalyptic hope, which expects a cataclysmic end of the world followed by a new heaven and new earth, purified of evil. Less prominent but more pervasive is what can be called cosmic hope, which optimistically understands human history as moving slowly but inexorably toward universal reconciliation and peace.

But the occupational hazard of apocalyptic hope is a tendency toward harsh judgment and frequent disappointment. The occupational hazard of cosmic hope is naïve optimism and inevitable pessimism.

These forms of hope miss the mark. Deeper than and transcending them is a hope beyond hope that trusts in the future but does not ignore risks and dangers, and does not make specific demands, for it affirms the future in a way that transcends particular expectations.

Session one will examine apocalyptic hope and the attitudes associated with it. Session two will examine cosmic hope and attitudes associated with it. Session three, after noting how each of these forms of hope is likely to be judged by the other, will probe biblical hints for a deeper, higher form of hope.

Bowman has taught philosophy and religion for more than 40 years, and he currently teaches in the master of liberal arts program of Johns Hopkins University. Bowman’s undergraduate major is philosophy. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Detroit and a PhD in religion and literature from Fordham University.

A one-time $10 donation is requested for the three-week course. Preregistration is not required. Proceeds will support UUSD’s mission to nurture spiritual growth, embrace diversity, work for justice, and strive for a loving world. For directions and information about UUSD, go to For further information, contact Dr. Bowman at