A Reason for Hope: How Transcendent Hope Inspires Us to Do Good

How can hope inspire us to do good? Better yet, how can it inspire us to be good? C. Terry Warner, an author and emeritus professor of philosophy, shared a few ideas at this semester’s recent bi-annual Reason for Hope Conference, hosted by the Wheatley Institution.

He shared the story of the The Other Side Academy, a live-in school that boards adult criminals and substance abusers looking for a fresh start after they’ve hit rock bottom, to demonstrate the difference between short-term and long-term hope, and how recognition of those different kinds of hope, and feeling both, can truly change lives.

The academy’s residents often begin their two-year stay with a sense of hopelessness or of “imminent hope,” defined by Dr. Warner as short-term, passing hope. The residents usually become discouraged, and they doubt that they can change.  Dr. Warner compared their mindsets to those commonly held by many people: “Our mental constructs both enable and limit our experience. Our mentality is, in this sense, prejudicial.”

But, as other people invite residents of Other Side to do good things and to be better people, the residents acquire a sense of transcendent hope, with the idea that these invitations to do good in and of themselves disrupt and intrude on the residents’ negative mentalities. They begin to recognize that they can change, and they find increased confidence in themselves, the future, and others. The academy’s programs give residents work experience, and its strict rules teach them self-control, but its success depends on each resident’s commitment to change.

Dr. Warner said that anyone can change, but we can only do so if we’re motivated by a call to goodness that originates outside ourselves. That call to goodness interrupts our negative (and often cyclical) thinking, and then it plants a seed of transcendent hope in each of us. “Transcendent hope is a hope that goodness will prevail,” he said. For Dr. Warner, the gospel brings transcendent hope into his life. He specifically mentioned the light of Christ and its permeating influence on every person who has ever lived.

Dr. Warner concluded by referring to scriptures that discuss how all goodness is rooted in God and Christ. “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” (Moroni 7:13)

What is the Wheatley Institution?

The Wheatley Institution is an on-campus entity that enhances BYU’s scholarly reputation while enriching faculty and student experiences. It lifts society as it preserves and strengthens its core institutions.

What invites you to do good and be good?

Let us know in the comments below!

Econ Major Takes First Place in Wheatley Essay Contest, on the Religious Roots of Rights

“Religious freedom is the first freedom, not merely in order of mention in the Bill of Rights, but as the source of human rights and their best line of defense,” argued Jacob Fisher in an essay that won first-place winner in the Wheatley Institution‘s 10-Year Anniversary Essay Contest. “If we believe that our beloved democracy will simply persist without commitment to religious liberty, we are admiring the flower while killing the root.”

He continues:

Some voices question the validity of promoting religious liberty in modern America. Though it is prominently mentioned in the Bill of Rights, there are those who insist that religious freedom is a “redundant right” because its content, like religious speech and religious assembly, is already included in other enumerated rights. Far from being redundant, religious freedom is the root of all freedoms, because rights are a spiritual concept. Where does society obtain its knowledge of human rights? Do we find inalienable rights under the frontal lobe? Are they secreted by the liver? No. Rights are not a physical attribute of our bodies; any sense in which we believe human rights to be real must be a reflection of our spiritual understanding of human nature.

For limited government to work, personal behavior must be primarily governed by internal directives, rather than fear of legal enforcement. Religious institutions promote this voluntary right living. Those who support the project of limited government should be alarmed at America’s declining religiosity, because as religion recedes from public space, it leaves a gap that expansive State power is all too ready to fill.

Fisher, an undergraduate in the Department of Economics, wrote his essay, entitled “The Roots of Rights” in response to one of 10 prompts provided by the Wheatley Institution. His focus on rights forms part of a larger conversation within the college on a variety of rights, including civil, and the responsibilities and benefits that come with them.

The Wheatley Institution works to “enhance the academic climate and scholarly reputation of BYU, and to enrich faculty and student experiences, by contributing recognized scholarship that lifts society by preserving and strengthening its core institutions.”

How to Promote International Religious Freedom: an Event

For the faith community in the United States, religious freedom has become a growing concern. In an increasingly secular world, many fear that social trends and new policies will either infringe on their right to worship or force them to accommodate things that contradict their beliefs. These worries are not solely confined to America, though; they are worldwide. “About 74% of the world’s population are living in countries with serious restrictions on religious freedom, according to David Saperstein, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom. He will speak on this issue, and on the United States’ efforts to promote international religious freedom, at a lecture hosted by BYU’s Wheatley Institution, on November 17th.

780x400sapersteinThe lecture will be delivered on November 17th from 7:30-9:00 PM in the HBLL auditorium. at BYU. Ambassador Saperstein will speak on the importance of promoting religious freedom around the world, as well as combating religious persecution and discrimination in all of its forms–including genocide and other atrocities committed by groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Religious freedom has recently been a central focus of Brigham Young University and the church which owns it, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many devotionals, conference talks, and online articles have covered the issue in-depth and argued for an increase in the freedom of religious people to practice and live their beliefs.

These conversations have taken place outside of Mormonism as well. Many Christians have refused to serve homosexuals at their places of work, citing their religious beliefs as justification. This has resulted in several high-profile lawsuits, perhaps most notably the 2015 arrest of government employee Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling and a federal court order addressed to her.

In January 2015, President Barack Obama appointed David Saperstein to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Before that, Ambassador Saperstein served on the boards of numerous national organizations and was the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is a prolific writer and speaker, and holds degrees from Cornell, Hebrew Union College, and American University.