Edited by Peter Admirand
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
This book is a collection of new chapters from some of the best and most provocative thinkers and scholars reflecting on the universal and accessible themes of loss and hope. The author sought new essays by survivors of genocide and state terror, social justice activists and scholars, and academics involved in interfaith dialogue and post conflict reconciliation processes. The opening essay is from a survivor of the Sobibor death camp during the Shoah. It is a testimony to my fervid belief that the voices of the survivors of such atrocities are essential to whenever seeking to formulate anything of worth, whether religious belief, theodicy, lasting love, or her, hope. Should we still hope, and is it ethical to hope amidst or after atrocities and genocidal ruptures? These are difficult questions that must be asked. Thus, part one, “Survivors and Victims ‘Perspectives on Loss and Hope” turns to survivors of mass atrocity and scholars working with such testimonies to seek their interpretations of the relationship of loss and hope. Here we have individuals and groups who have dealt with loss on a massive and often catastrophic scale. Having seen and experienced such horrors, they are in particularly unique positions to reflect upon such themes.
Such a section demands an acute awareness of how fragile so much of life can be and calls for a response that transcends any alienating difference within gender, class, religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, or other often nebulous identity-markers. Aware of the extent of such loss and the complicity or failure of hope in such atrocities, the section raises crucial but (often) unanswerable questions. Henry Wu has spent decades tirelessly promoting the need for the world to be aware and remember the victims of the laogai9reform through labor camps in China) of which he was imprisoned for 19 years. In this chapter he turns his attention to the role of Classicide in Communist China and the losses that have resulted from such false divisions and ideology. Wu’s calling for justice and memory is an explicit is an act of hope despite such searing loss.
Such awareness and experience of loss spur the need for partnership and dialogue because they expose the failures and gaps of much of our sanctions, laws, beliefs, and rhetoric. This Part Two “Interreligious Perspectives on Loss and Hope” builds upon the truths and challenges of survivors while laying foundation for the need to examine key areas within interreligious and secular viewpoints. Such views not only demand careful study and awareness of other positions and possibilities, but deep humility and cognizance of our need for dialogue, ongoing learning, and openness. These are qualities that not only provide solid grounds for hope but are also crucial in facing, responding to, and preserving through losses highlighted in Part One.
The aims of the work include the following:
”map signals of hope as they accompany the experience of loss and uncertainty amidst our postmodern, globalized context.
discuss loss and hope amidst genocide, interstate war and civil war or conflict.
highlight interdisciplinary connections, challenges and studies that analyze or reflect upon loss and hope.
examine loss and/or hope from an interfaith perspective to reveal points of contact and dissonance between and among religious and secular traditions.
reframe and accentuate some expressions of past and present loss that bear upon(any hope for) present and future meaning and to
provide rich and diverse reflections upon modes of belief, the human condition, and the search for meaning.”
These are notable aims and hopes even as one knows that the task is to contribute to the discussion and to encourage voices not represented here to join in the conversation. Loss and hope demands global, interreligious, and interdisciplinary perspectives. Boundaries and identities are mixed, hybrid and permeable.
This book gives hope to the human race as reading it, one is drawn into the love, perseverance and hope that the stories pivot around. Read it with love and then give it to another who has love as his/her core.