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Annual Session 2020

July 27 to August 2, 2020

Hood College - Frederick, Maryland

Courage, Faith and Hope to Love Across our Differences

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. In such an event, courage is the authentic form taken by love.” Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1965 (Image Classic, p. 206)
In the present moment, people around the world face profound challenges. We are confronted daily with every sort of fear, hatred, and violence, manifest in racism, sexism and misogyny, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia – the list is long. Our fears -- of unending wars, ceaseless poverty, and catastrophic climate change -- threaten to paralyze us or to leave us bewildered and confused about what it means to be bringing about and living in the beloved community in these times.

At the same time, deep political and social divisions impair our ability to address these challenges, and we struggle to see how to bridge those divisions. Still, we are called to love our neighbor, with no exceptions. That takes courage to reach out to those with differing views, faith in our ability to achieve mutual understanding, and hope for a future in which we work together to address the problems besetting us.

Is it possible to love an oppressor who causes harm to others? How can we stand with others with different experiences and points of view? Like us, they may hold dear their yearnings, and hold tightly their values. How can we find common ground?

All over the world, individuals and communities are making tremendous strides confronting and solving intractable problems. We are surrounded with new, fresh, and radical opportunities to learn from each other, to address ongoing challenges and crises, and especially, to see what love might do.

Possible related queries

  • How do we move past the fears that paralyze us to engage the challenges we face?
  • How do I love my neighbor?
  • How do we move beyond our divisions and find common ground for moving forward?
  • How do we find the courage to pursue equality?
  • How do we love responsibly?

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