Religion, Spirituality & Hope

Deep Dive Toolkit

There is a global and persistent belief in hope even in the face of tremendous obstacles and tragedy and this is reflected in many religious frameworks. Many religions connect people through shared beliefs in a better future and messages of hope and possibility are often woven into scriptures and religious practices.

Through the readings, videos, and interactive activities below, you can dive deeper into the connection between religion and hope as well as the role that such a connection should play as we look to tackle complex global issues.

“Candles” photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash
“Lotus” photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Religion & the Politics of Hope

QUICK STUDY
Longer Readings & Further Resources
  • Mindful Politics: A Buddhist Guide to Making the World a Better Place by Melvin McLeod
  • Hope in a Democratic Age: Philosophy, Religion, and Political Theory by Alan Mittleman
  • A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century by John A. Buehrens and Rebecca Ann Parker 
  • COVID-19, Religion and Belief Webinar Series
DICUSSION QUESTIONS
  • What is the role of hope in politics?
  • Do you think shared visions of hope have the power to unite humanity in achieving common goals?
  • Is there a difference between having a hopeful mindset versus a practical mindset when envisioning the future?
  • Do you think hope is an exclusively religious or secular concept?
  • Are there multiple purposes for hope?
  • Do you think there should be a connection between religion and politics?

Spirituality, Hope & Humanity

QUICK STUDY
LONGER READING
  • Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey by Jane Goodall
  • The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross by Jon Meacham
  • The History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong
  • The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
  • The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • How important is hope in your life?
  • What does spirituality mean to you?
  • Do you consider yourself a spiritual or religious person? If so, is hope an important aspect of your spirituality and/or religion?
  • What do you consider your purpose in life?
  • Do you think hope is a scientific concept, a spiritual concept or both?
  • Do you think spirituality and science are mutually exclusive?

Mindfulness, Suffering & Hope

READINGS ON SUFFERING AND HOPE
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World By Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
  • The Interrelation of Faith and Hope by Dr. Shannon Kincaid and Dr. Philip Pecorino
MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION

Mindfulness and meditation have origins in both hinduism and buddhism. The first record of meditation dates back to 1500 BCE in India. Around this time, these practices also developed in China and Japan, and became central aspects of buddhist spiritual practice in 500-600 BCE. Although used by many to cultivate spiritual awareness, mindful exercises today do not necessarily have a spiritual component to them and many consider mindfulness to be a critical component of wellness, just like eating healthy foods or exercising. For example, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed a mindfulness program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to treat anxiety and cultivate calmness.

Activities

  • Click here to find more mindfulness exercises that are suitable for teens and young adults.
  • Here are two YouTube videos that guide you through a body scan — a mindfulness exercise that allows you to relax and connect with your physical senses:
  • Here are two YouTube videos that guide you through Yoga Nidra meditation — also called yogic sleep, this practice helps guide you to a consciousness between waking and sleeping:

Learn more about Buddhism, Hinduism, and mindfulness

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • How do you find hope and joy during difficult times?
  • Do you practice hopefulness or mindfulness in your day to day life?
  • Try one of the mindfulness exercises above and answer the following questions:
    • If you have not practiced mindfulness before, how did it feel?
    • If you regularly practice mindfulness and meditation, why do you do so?

Further Reading

FICTION BOOKS

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Dancing on the Edge of the World: Jewish Stories of Faith, Inspiration, and Love by Miriyam Glazer

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

POEMS & SERMONS

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo

Always We Hope by Lao Tzu

Thirst: Poems by Mary Oliver

I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy Renderings of Hafiz

Inter-relationship by Thich Nhat Hanh

A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life by Santideva

Sermon: Buddhist Perspectives on Hope and Faith by Beth Robins Roth

A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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