I was invited to post as part of the Hope blog relay by my friend and colleague Matt Cromwell - the Church-State Guy. If you knew our story, you wouldn't think hope would be a big part of our lives. Our first son, Elijah James Blum, our hero, our little star, our heart, died last August. He was 8 months old, had spent most of his little life in the hospital, and the doctors were never really sure what happened.
And now with our second son, Edward Zander Blum (aka Commander Zander, aka the Little E.Z., aka Zander Clause, aka Zand the Man), was born under duress and, although full term, was only 4 lbs. Our lives are back in the hospital - named Zion, of all places.
From where do we get our hope? How can we sing in a foreign land? I would love to say from the Bible or from our church community. But my hope comes from a man accused of being an atheist and a Communist (he did join the Communist Party of the USA!) I get it from the broader community of hope from the past. My hope inspiration is W. E. B. Du Bois, the most prominent African American leader and activist before Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are some quotes from prayers that Du Bois wrote for his students as a professor. He lived through much worse than we do (and he even lost his first son).
- “Help us to hope that the seeming Shadow of this Death is to our human blindness but the exceeding brightness of a newer greater life.”
- “It is never too late to mend. Nothing is so bad that good may not be put into it and make it better and save it from utter loss.”
- “Give us then light, more light, O God, that we may see and learn and know and we may no longer be with them that sit in darkness.”
Passing the Baton
Now I pass the baton to several of my friends - scholars who inspire me with their scholarly insights, their personal passion, and their friendship.
- Stephen Prothero, professor of religion at Boston University and perhaps the finest public intellectual voice on religion in the United States today.
- Amy DeRogatis, a professor at Michigan State University whose blog about her own family adventures gave us hope
- Celucien Joseph, Phd, writer, scholar, and hope provider
- Darren Grem, a new professor at Ole Miss whose sense of humor and intellectual brilliance I have enjoyed so much recently
- Michael J. Altman, another fine new mind
- John Fea, a tremendous scholar of American religion whose love for empathy, honesty, and Bruce Springsteen gives us hope that more historians could be like him.