Tag Archives: optimism

saved by love

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. — Reinhold Niebuhr

This is my third and final post in this series on Reinhold Niebuhr.  I began with saved by faith, and then yesterday was saved by hope. So it is fitting to conclude this morning with saved by love.

Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) was an American theologian, ethicist and professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than 30 years. Among his most influential books are Moral Man and Immoral Society and The Nature and Destiny of Man, the second of which Modern Library ranked one of the top 20 nonfiction books of the twentieth century.

Numerous politicians and activists such as Presidents Obama and Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr., Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Hubert Humphrey and John McCain have cited his influence on their thought. Arthur Schlesinger described Niebuhr as “the most influential American theologian of the 20th century” and Time Magazine posthumously called Niebuhr “the greatest Protestant theologian in America since Jonathan Edwards.

Niebuhr’s appeal comes from the way he confronts us with the uncompromising demands of the Christian faith and way of life. He holds up the Christian ideal as the dominating principle in dealing with social problems and then attempts to show the direction Christian action should take. He always connects faithfulness to action, thus keeping Christianity from being remote and unrelated to the way we live.

In genuine prophetic Christianity the moral qualities of the Christ are not only our hope, but our despair. Out of that despair arises a new hope centered in the revelation of God in Christ. Christian faith, is, in other words, a type of optimism which places ultimate confidence in the love of God and not the love of man. It insists, quite logically, that this ultimate hope becomes possible only to those who no longer place their confidence in purely human possibilities. Repentence is thus the gateway into the Kingdom of God.

Jordan Guernsey: loss of a hero

I am currently in Manila with Allen Renquist and Andrew Sullivan. We are here to to thank all our Stop Hunger Now Philippines friends and supporters and take part in the induction of the new Board of Trustees for the organization. We leave here on Sunday to go to Bangalore, India to help facilitate the opening of a new Stop Hunger Now office there.

What should be a totally positive trip has had a pall cast over it for us, especially me. While enroute to the Philippines we learned that Stop Hunger Now friend and supporter, Jordan Guernsey had lost his ongoing battle with cancer. This is a blow to all of us. Jordan was our friend. His life was too short.

What made the news of Jordan’s loss cut even deeper was that the last time Allen and I were in the Philippines Jordan was with us. We were responding to Super Typhoon Haiyan and Jordan was part of our team.

Jordan and I met at the Sundance Film Festival a couple years ago. I spoke at an EO Banquet and he was in the audience. After my presentation he and his lovely wife, Paola, came up to talk. Jordan’s enthusiasm, optimism, and love of life couldn’t be hid. It was immediately obvious the two of us were kindred spirits and reading from the same script.

His first words were, “You are the first speaker I have ever heard that really understands that we really can change the world.” That was Jordan. He had an unwavering belief in the power of living every day to the fullest, doing everything possible to make a real and positive difference in the world, and truly believed that by working together we can end hunger in our lifetime.

We were instant friends. Jordan immediately began supporting Stop Hunger Now, and was instrumental in opening our office in Salt Lake City. The entire time I knew him he was battling cancer, yet he never slowed down in his efforts to impact the needs he saw around him. Financially successful at an early age, Jordan realized the difference between success and significance.

Jordan’s optimism was infectious. His love and compassion were genuine. He understood that by working together we can achieve our shared vision of far better world. And even though his life was too brief by far, Jordan was a hero. He lived his life to the fullest, and he will be missed.