We can wait no longer. Martin Luther King’s Letter to White Church Leaders

In 1960, Martin Luther King was imprisoned after leading a civil rights march. His dream seemed a long way off. Criticised by white church leaders, he responded with his famous “Letter from an Alabama Jail”, which included this section:

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.

Faced with injustices like these, it would be understandable if King had become stuck in “the abyss of despair”. His letter oozes a compassion for the suffering of his fellow African-Americans and a smouldering anger at the injustices heaped upon them. But his movement aroused violent opposition. Even the white church, which he had hoped would side with his cause, opposed what he was doing. At times the challenge must have seemed too big, the forces of oppression too powerful, and the future fated to be an endless rerun of the past.

But to his compassion and anger King added hope. He was convinced that his dream was in fact God’s dream; that God too had

One small voice can start a revolution

In 2004 Victor Yushchenko stood for the presidency of the Ukraine. Vehemently opposed by the ruling party Yushchenko’s face was disfigured and he almost lost his life when he was mysteriously poisoned. This was not enough to deter him from standing for the presidency.

On the day of the election Yushchenko was comfortably in the lead. The ruling party, not to be denied, tampered with the results. The state-run television station reported “ladies and gentlemen, we announce that the challenger Victor Yushchenko has been decisively defeated.”

In the lower right-hand corner of the screen a woman by the name of Natalia Dmitruk was providing a translation service for the deaf community. As the news presenter regurgitated the lies of the regime, Natalia Dmitruk refused to translate them. “I’m addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine” she signed. “They are lying and I’m ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our president.”

The deaf community sprang into gear. They text messaged their friends about the fraudulent result and as news spread of Dmitruk’s act of defiance increasing numbers of journalists were inspired to likewise tell the truth. Over the coming weeks the “Orange Revolution” occurred as a million people wearing orange made their way to the capital city of Kiev demanding a new election. The government was forced to meet their demands, a new election was held and Victor Yushchenko became president.

Philip Yancey writes

“When I heard the story behind the orange revolution, the image of a small screen of truth in the corner of the big screen became for me an ideal picture of the church. You see we as a church do not control the big screen. (When we do, we usually mess it up.) Go to any magazine rack or turn on the television and you see a consistent message. What matters is how beautiful you are, how much money or power you have. Similarly, though the world includes many poor people, they rarely make the magazine covers or the news shows. Instead we focus on the superrich, names like Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey.… Our society is hardly unique. Throughout history nations have always glorified winners, not losers. Then, like the sign language translator in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, along comes a person named Jesus who says in effect, Don’t believe the big screen – they’re lying. It’s the poor who are blessed, not the rich. Mourners are blessed too, as well as those who hunger and thirst, and the persecuted. Those who go through life thinking they’re on top end up on the bottom. And those who go through life feeling they’re on the bottom end up on the top. After all, what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his soul?

Source: Philip Yancey, What Good Is God, pages 184-186

You’re Not Forgotten

During the Second World War the US Army was forced to retreat from the Philippines. Some of their soldiers were left behind, and became prisoners of the Japanese. The men called themselves “ghosts”, souls unseen by their nation, and on the infamous Bataan Death March were forced to walk over 70 miles, knowing that those who were slow or weak would be bayoneted by their captors or die from dysentery and lack of water. Those who made it through the march spent the next three years in a hellish prisoner-of-war camp. By early 1945, 513 men were still alive at the Cabanatuan prison camp, but they were giving up hope. The US Army was on its way back, but the POW’s had heard the frightening news that prisoners were being executed as the Japanese retreated from the advancing U.S. Army.

Their wavering hope was however met by one of the most magnificent rescues of wartime history. In an astonishing feat 120 US Army soldiers and 200 Filipino guerrillas outflanked 8000 Japanese soldiers to rescue the POW’s.

Alvie Robbins was one of the rescuers. He describes how he found a prisoner muttering in a darkened corner of his barracks, tears coursing down his face.

“I thought we’d been forgotten,” the prisoner said.

“No, you’re not forgotten,” Robbins said softly. “You’re heroes. We’ve come for you.”

Often in life we can start to give up hope, to feel that God has forgotten us, abandoned us to dark and hurtful experiences, but the cross of Christ reminds us, “No, you’re not forgotten” and the resurrection gives us the assurance that some day we too will see our rescuer face to face and be liberated from the distresses of this life. When he returns we too will hear him say, “I’ve come for you.”

Source: The story of the Death March and Alvie Robbins is found in Hampton Sides, Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission

Where’s the Pony

There were once two identical twins. They were alike in every way but one. One was a hope-filled optimist who only ever saw the bright side of life. The other was a dark pessimist, who only ever saw the down side in every situation.

The parents were so worried about the extremes of optimism and pessimism in their boys they took them to the Doctor. He suggested a plan. “On their next birthday give the pessimist a shiny new bike, but give the optimist only a pile of manure.”

It seemed a fairly extreme thing to do. After all the parents had always treated heir boys equally. But in this instance they decided to try to Doctor’s advice. So when the twins birthday came round they gave the pessimist the most expensive, top of the range, racing bike a child has ever owned. When he saw the bike his first words were, “I’ll probably crash and break my leg.”

To the optimist they gave a carefully wrapped box of manure. He opened it, looked puzzled for a moment, then ran outside screaming, “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s just gotta be a pony around here somewhere!”

Source Unknown.

When Life Tumbles In

In 1927 the wife of Scottish preacher Arthur Gossip died suddenly. When he returned to the pulpit he preached a sermon titled “When Life Tumbles In, What Then?” In that sermon Gossip compared life to watching  a plane pass through the sky during wartime. There you are, lying on your back watching a plane fly gracefully across a brilliant sunlit blue sky when all of a sudden it is blown apart by gunfire and falls to earth a tumbling, tangled mess of metal. Only on this occasion the gunfire was the tragically unexpected death of his beloved wife.

Gossip went on to explain that he didn’t understand this life, but what he did know was that during this darkest period of his life he needed his faith more than ever. “You people in the sunshine may believe the faith, but we in the shadow must believe it. We have nothing else.” Without his faith there was no hope.

Source: Reported in Hans, God on the Witness Stand (Baker 1987). Hans sourced the sermon from Arthur Gossip, The Hero in Thy Soul (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930)

Tony Bullimore

In January 1997 British yachtsman Tony Bullimore was sailing solo deep in the Southern Ocean. A gale was raging. The waves, reaching the height of a five story building, rushed on him with a sound like roaring thunder. As his yacht plummeted down the face of a wave it hit something submerged in the water and turned upside down.

Tony, who had been sheltering in the two metre by three metre cockpit found it had become his prison. As giant waves buffeted the boat, water poured in and out a broken window, knee high at one end, waist high at the other, the air temperature was down to 2 degrees Celsius, and it was pitch black – the sun couldn’t penetrate the upturned yacht.

Twelve times Bullimore left the cockpit in a vain attempt to release his liferaft. Meeting with no success he took refuge in his little cabin. Sitting inside the cold inky darkness Bullimore had few rations – some chocolate and  a device for making fresh water from salty sea. His fingers became frostbitten and Bullimore thought that he was going to die. The odds of being rescued seemed impossibly small.

Four four long days Tony survived, until late Wednesday night when a RAFF plane located him and dropped an electronic probe next to his yacht. Bullimore could hear the faint pings, and with hope rising in his heart, started tapping on the hull to communicate to whoever was listening that he was alive. Early the next morning the HMAS Adelaide drew alongside, and some sailors were dispatched to bang on the hull. Tony heard the banging, took a deep breath, and swam out through the wreckage of his yacht to meet them.

How did he feel at that moment? Bullimore says “When I looked over at the Adelaide, I could only get the tremendous ecstasy that I was looking at life, I was actually looking at a picture of what life was about. It was heaven, absolute heaven. I really, really never thought I would reach that far. I was starting to look back over my life and was starting to think, `Well, I’ve had a good life, I’ve done most of the things I had wanted to do’ I think if I was picking words to describe it, it would be a miracle. An absolute miracle.”

Reflecting on the experience later Bullimore told reporters “…Now that I’m getting a bit old there is one thing, and I don’t mind telling the world, I’ve become more human. In these last six days I’m a different person. I won’t be so rude to people, not that I was, but I’ll be much more of a gentleman and, equally, I’ll listen to people a lot more. And as a dear old friend of mine, David Matherson, said when he had a heart attack – and I’ve never had a heart attack, I’ve got a strong heart, I hope I still have – he said that when he got over it and opened his window in his bedroom and he peered out and smelt the fresh air and all the rest of it, he said: `God it was like being born all over again, life was great!’ Well that’s how I feel now, like being born all over again.”

Tony Bullimore learned the power of hope. It was hope of being rescued that drove him to survive and it was the fulfilment of hope that brought him such joy and a new perspective on life. In the same way the gospel promises hope to all of us, and particularly to those of us who find life tough going. A time will come when the Rescuer will arrive and release the world from the pain and suffering. And it’s that hope that drives us forward.

Bullimore reflects a common outlook among those who’ve had a brush with death. In almost religious language he says it’s like being born all over again, a fresh start at life, and one he will make a better fist of. The death and resurrection of Jesus likewise brings us a fresh appreciation of life, a fresh start and a new way of living.

Source: Scott Higgins. Bullimore quotes taken from The Sunday Age January 1997.

Three Psychaitrists

Vienna, Europe, the period leading up to WW2. Three Jewish psychiatrists, two learned masters in the field, one the young apprentice.

The first master is a man named Sigmund Freud. He has spent years studying people, striving to understand what makes us tick. He’s reached the conclusion that the most basic drive in human beings is the drive for pleasure. It’s our need for pleasure that explains why we do what we do, how we live.

The second master is Alfred Adler. He too has spent years studying human behaviour. His studies have led him to disagree with Sigmund Freud. Adler is convinced the bottom line explanation for human behaviour is power. All of us grow up feeling inferior and powerless. Life is a drive to gain control, to feel we are important.

The third man is a young up-and-coming psychiatrist by the name of Victor Frankl. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his mentors. But before his career gains any momentum WW2 starts. The Nazis invade and its dangerous for Jews. Freud and Adler are world renowned scholars and so manage to escape before Hitler invades. Frankl is not so lucky. He is arrested and thrown into a Nazi concentration camp for four long years.

After the war is over Frankl is released from the concentration camp and resumes his career. He reflects upon his time as a prisoner. He noticed something quite strange – the people who survived were not always the ones you’d expect. Many who were physically strong wasted away and died while others who were much more weak physically grew strong and survived. Why? What was it that enabled them to hang on through a living hell?

Frankl reflected on the theories of his mentors. Freud’s pleasure principle couldn’t explain it. For four desperate and terrible years the men in that camp knew only pain, suffering and degradation. Pleasure was not a word in their vocabulary. It wasn’t pleasure that kept them going.

What then of Adler’s theory about power being the basic human need? That didn’t fare well either. Frankl and his fellow Jews were completely powerless during their time in the concentration camps. Each day they stared down the barrel of a loaded gun, were treated like animals, felt jackboots on their faces. They had no power and no prospect of power.

Victor Frankl came up with his own theory. The difference between those who survived and those who perished was hope. Those who survived never gave up their belief that their lives had meaning, that despite everything going on around them it would one day end and they would live meaningful, purposeful lives. What is the basic human drive? The one thing that gives life value? The ability to live with a sense of meaning. Not pleasure. Not power. Meaning.

Source: Based on a talk given by Australian speaker Michael Frost

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best modern films made. Set in 1940’s America it tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a gentle, quietly spoken banker who is falsely convicted of his wife’s murder and sent to prison. The prison is governed by the harsh and uncompromising Warden Norton. Life inside is even harsher. Red, a life prisoner who befriends Andy, puts it like this:

“The first night’s the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing s__t they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell… and those bars slam home…that’s when you know it’s for real. A whole life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.”

And so Andy is subjected to the harsh realities of prison life, including repeated sexual abuse at the hands of some guards.

Yet he’s also very intelligent. Andy is co-opted by the warden to handle his accounts, including monies gained through corrupt and illegal activities. He develops careful and elaborate schemes to launder the money. And in return Andy is able to get some concessions for himself and the other prisoners – a library and basic educational services, a gramophone, beer while on a prison chain gang. These concessions are like little tastes of heaven. When Red hears an Italian opera on Andy’s gramophone  he says:

“I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”

Unlike the other prisoner Andy retains a sense of hope, hope that life can be more than the hellhole of prison, hope that he can one day be released and live again. When he hears Red playing his harmonica Andy comments

“Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget. Forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s a – there’s a – there’s something inside that’s yours, that they can’t touch.”

Then one day, two decades after he enters prison, Andy is gone. It turns out that for those two decades hope has driven him on as he has painstakingly carved out a tunnel, hidden behind a Rita Hayworth poster on his wall. No one knew about it, but with his tunnel complete Andy crawls though the earth, through the stinkhole of the sewer to freedom. He’s liberated and free.

Andy now goes to the bank that held the false accounts he’s set up for the warden. Nobody has ever met the fictitious account holder, Peter Stevens, before. But Andy has been preparing for this for a long time. He has the required ID’s and the matching signature. Andy becomes Peter Stevens and withdraws all the warden’s corrupt money. And then he anonymously reveals Norton’s corruption to see Norton’s harsh fist removed from the prison.

But one thing remains. Andy’s good friend Red. Red is finally parolled but struggles to cope with the changed world outside. He longs to return to the world he knows – prison. He thinks of ways to break his parole, when he remembers a conversation he once had with Andy, a secret hiding place in the wall of a windblown field. Red goes there, finds a box with an envelope in it that says “Red” on the outside. Red opens the envelope and reads a letter from Andy:

“Dear Red. If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I’ll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.”

Red does remember the town they’d spoken of, and has in his hand $1000 Andy left for him. He sets off to find his friend, telling us

“I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain…I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

Red does make it. The film closes with Red and Andy reunited by the sea. And the message rings loud and clear: “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

Information Please

A man tells the story about a special friend he made while just a boy. When quite young, Paul’s father had one of the first telephones in their neighbourhood. Paul was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when his mother talked to it.

Then Paul discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person – her name was “Information, Please” and there was nothing she did not know.

“Information, Please” could supply anybody’s number and the correct time. Paul’s first personal experience with this genie-in the-bottle came one day while his mother was visiting a neighbour. Amusing himself at the tool bench in the basement, Paul hacked his finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn’t seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. He walked around the house sucking his throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.

The telephone!

Quickly, Paul ran for the foot stool in the parlour and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, he unhooked the receiver in the parlour and held it to his ear. “Information, Please,” he said into the mouthpiece just above his head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into Paul’s ear.

“Information.”

“I hurt my finger,” Paul wailed into the phone.

“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.

“Nobody’s home but me” Paul blubbered.

“Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,” he replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

“Can you open your icebox?” she asked. He said he could. “Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice.

After that, Paul called “Information, Please” for everything. He asked her for help with his geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped him with his maths. She told Paul that his pet chipmunk, which he had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts. Then, there was the time Petey, the pet canary died. Paul called and told her the sad story.

She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child, but Paul was inconsolable. He asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed his deep concern, for she said quietly, “Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.” Somehow he felt better. .

When Paul was nine years old, his family moved across the country to Boston. Paul missed his friend very much. “Information, Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home, and he somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.

As he grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left him. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity Paul would recall the serene sense of security he had then. He appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on his way west to college, Paul’s plane put down in Seattle. He had about half an hour or so between planes. He spent 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what he was doing, Paul dialled his hometown operator and said, “Information, Please.”

Miraculously, he heard the small, clear voice he knew so well, “Information.”

He hadn’t planned this but he heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.” Paul laughed. “So it’s really still you,” he said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time.”

“I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls.” Paul told her how often he had thought of her over the years and asked if he could call her again when he came back to visit his sister.

“Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later Paul was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, “Information.” He asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” She asked.

“Yes, a very old friend,” Paul answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally has been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before he could hang up she said, “Wait a minute. Is this Paul?”

“Yes,” Paul replied.

“Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.” The note said, “Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.”

 

Application: Listening – Information Please gave Paul one of the most precious yet simple gifts a person can give, the gift of listening.

Application: Hope, Death, Heaven. “There are other world’s to sing in”. Beyond death lies the hope of a new life.

Application: Community, Friendship. This story reminds us that we need each other. Information Please and Paul both had their lives enriched in powerful yet simple ways by the gift of their friendship with one another.

Application: Children. We adults often make the mistake of dismissing the concerns of small children. Yet coping with the death of a budgie or telling someone that you’ve hurt your finger are the things that are important to a small child. Sally reminds us of the importance of being attentive to the needs of children, not expecting them to function as mini adults but nurturing their journey as children.

 

Source: Unknown.

Amistad

The movie Amistad tells the story of a group of African slaves who seize control of their slave-ship and demand to be returned to their homeland. The captain instead takes them to an American seaport where they are imprisoned.

As they await the judge’s verdict one of the men, Yamba, sits in a corner of the prison cell thumbing through the pages of a bible.

Cinque, the leader of the group, looks over and says, “You don’t have to pretend to be interested in that. Nobody’s watching but me.”

After a brief moment Yamba looks up. “I’m not pretending. I’m beginning to understand it” he says. He cannot read the writing – English is foreign to him – but he can make sense of the pictures. When Cinque comes over to see for himself Yamba explains the story in their native language. “Their people have suffered more than ours” he says. Showing Cinque a picture of Jews being attacked by lions, he continues, “Their lives were full of suffering.”

Then Yamba flips the page and points to a picture of the baby Jesus, crowned with a halo of light, “Then he was born and everything changed.”

Cinque asks, “Who is he?”

Yamba replies that he doesn’t know, but that the child must be special. He moves through the pictures of Jesus.  He points to a picture of Jesus riding on a donkey, praised by onlookers. A golden orb forms a halo around Jesus.  “Everywhere he goes” says Yamba, “he is followed by the sun.”

Picture after picture the same theme emerges.  Light surrounds Jesus as he heals people with his hands, as he protects an outcast woman, as he embraces children.

But this is not the end of the story. “Something happened” says Yamba. “He was captured, accused of some crime.”

Cinque shakes his head back and forth and insists, “He must have done something.”

Yamba says, “Why? What did we do?… Do you want to see how they killed him?”

Yamba is now getting very emotional. Cinque reminds him, “This is just a story, Yamba.”

Yamba shakes his head in protest. This man’s death was real. “But look” he says. “That’s not the end of it. His people took his body down from…” Yamba pauses and draws a cross in the air.

“They took him into a cave. They wrapped him in cloth, like we do. They thought he was dead, but he appeared before his people again…and he spoke to them. Then, finally, he rose into the sky.”

“This is where the soul goes when you die here. This is where we’re going when they kill us.” Stroking a picture that depicts heaven, Yamba concludes, “It doesn’t look so bad.”

 

1984. A Future Without Hope?

George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four was written in the aftermath of WW2, a time when Hitler had been defeated and the Soviet Union was on the rise. Orwell imagines what the world would be like under the control of authoritarian regimes. In this world “Big Brother” controls everything – where people live, what they do, where they work, what they say, even how they think. “thought crime”, to think thoughts that are against the ideology of the Party, is a heinous wrong.

The central character in Orwell’s book is a man named Winston. He works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history so that it fits with Big Brother’s view of the world. But he despises what he does and the regime that makes him do it. Winston begins rebelling against the “Big Brother”, small but deliberate acts of defiance. He finds an alcove in his house where the cameras of Big Brother cannot observe him, he begins an illicit affair with a woman named Julia, and in his own thoughts he questions the way the world is. As each small act of rebellion occurs the likelihood Winston will be caught increases.

the tension rises until the fateful moment when Winston’s resistance is exposed. He is sent to prison to be “rehabilitated”. This means breaking him emotionally and physically and then turning him once more into a party drone. His interrogator is a man named O’Brien. He wants to convince Winston that resistance is futile, that the arty will never be defeated, that the present will stretch unending into the future. At one point O’Brien chillingly says to Winston: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” It’s a depressing image. The future no more than a repeat of the past.

To this the gospel screams a loud “NO!” . It declares that death, disease and distress will will not be the last word, that the risen Christ will return to restore the universe too goodness and justice. This is the Christian hope.