Hope for 2024
Taking the long view on the longest night
This has been a particularly long year, in a string of long and difficult years.
I’ve shared time and again the handful of personal crises I faced in 2023 which curtailed my ability to participate in online discourse, record podcasts, or write posts here.
But thankfully, these past few months have permitted me to regain some equilibrium and work toward finishing my manuscript, which will hopefully be in the hands of readers as a book in the fall of 2024.
And I’m going into the end of this year with both gratitude and hope.
I am not the most ebullient person; in fact, when I get deep in my head and feelings, I can be downright dour.
Much of my work over the last several years has focused on sad, heavy things: the work of grieving prior beliefs and perspectives, the steady creep of Christofascism, and so on. It’s a heavy burden that I have chosen and chosen again.
I also choose hope.
This is not the time to go into content plans for the upcoming year, though I will be happy to discuss those soon.
At the beginning of this year, I started an series called The Comfort of Fictional Religions. One entry focused on a philosophy from the current run of X-Men called The Spark, developed in-story by the character Nightcrawler, and written by Si Spurrier.
Nightcrawler is a beloved X-Men character, and one reason among many is that he is deeply spiritual & religious. In one storyline, he becomes a priest; he wrestled with his demonic visage (and potential demonic lineage); in another story, he died and went to Christian heaven.
In the most recent status quo, the mutants founded their own nation called Krakoa, and invited mutants from all across the world to seek refuge and belonging there. Nightcrawler took up the task of trying to formulate a religion or philosophy for this new nation, made up of people from all around the globe.
It was no easy task, and as the article above details, Nightcrawler develops a philosophy he calls The Spark.
But that’s not the end of the story. Later, Nightcrawler is attacked and forced to do horrendous things against his will. Further, a mystical character takes a portion of his soul and forges it into a mystical weapon called the Hopesword.
Even if superhero comics aren’t your bag, stay with me.
There is something profound about the concept of hope being fashioned into a sword.
In the sequence below, a villain known as Mother Righteous who weaponizes a simple form of faith to indenture people to her and to ultimately reap the power that comes from their faith, had taken the Hopesword that was forged from Nightcrawler’s soul. But Nightcrawler’s allies return his soul and his hope to him.
Because even if this was not the metaphor that Nightcrawler would have chosen, his hope has been turned into something sharp, that when called for can be used as a weapon.
But it’s not a gun or any other long-range weapon. To strike with hope, you have to get in close.
Nightcrawler developed a philosophy and others tried to weaponize it. But he reclaimed his hope.
Sometimes hope has to be wielded like this to keep despair at bay.
So yes, I choose hope. And this metaphor has helped me do so.
I hope you choose hope, too. In the longest nights and amidst difficult times.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Substackers Against Nazis
A week ago, Marisa Kabas organized the following request from Substack users to Substack leadership, calling on them to defund the blatantly neo-Nazi publications that publish on this platform. Read it below.
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