I am watching the first season of Sandman on Netflix and I am taken aback by the powerful message about the importance of hope. Where in the end of episode for “No hope in hell”, the main character Morpheus, dream of the endless beats Lucifer Morningstar by invoking hope as the ultimate power. In the following episode we see the antagonist John experiment with reality claiming to create a better world by having the patrons of a little diner only speak truth and act out the truth in their hearts. This quickly degenerates into a gruesome hell-like scenario where the patrons quickly acts out their deepest darkest desires which includes debauchery and murder.
One of the characters cry out “How is this a better world?”, “It’s one without lies” John answers. When Morpheus enters he gently corrects John and explains that this is humanity without dreams, without hope.
“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.” (Romans 8:24–25 NET)
The unasked question by Lucifer Morningstar; the question that critics and atheists hurl at the foolishly believing masses is, how can something unseen, something we cannot measure or substantiate, something only hoped for and believed in, something only dreamed of be considered be so potent or powerful. How can such intangible values as faith, hope or love create a better world?
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NET)
The power of it comes disguised as weakness, the power comes in the call of the divine, the unknown, unseen vocative (evocative, provocative) reality of the divine. John D Caputo Writes: “The call comes packing only a vocative power—not power pure and simple, but the powerless power of a provocation or a summons, a soliciting, seductive power—but it does not have an army to lend it support, and nothing stops us from turning a deaf ear to it. It lacks the sheer brawn to coerce or to translate what it calls for into fact. It must make do with the power of powerlessness, not the power of pure strength.” (Caputo, 2022:L362)
Without hope, without dreams, we perish. The power of the divine is not in whatever absurd reality you find yourself in but rather in the call. The power is not in what is, rather it lies in what could be. Or as Jack Caputo would have it in the “great perhaps”.
Eros is calling, love is calling. Life is calling!
According to Marc Gafni’s beautiful book: A return to Eros – The radical experience of being fully alive, “Eros is the outrageous love, which moves the sun and the stars, which is the very heart of existence itself.” (Gafni et al. 2022:L425). The wild and throbbing heart of reality, of the divine is calling you. Gafni goes on to tell us to love and live outrageously. While that may ring true for some, one may wonder where the power resides to be able to live and love in such a way. The answer of course is hidden in the weakness of the divine, the subtle but enduring call.
Others may object that if we were to follow Eros, follow our desires we would to degenerate into debauchery and violence like Johns diner in Neil Gaiman’s harrowing tale the Sandman. Again the answer lies within the beauty of the vocative. Our hopes and dreams of a better world, a world of beauty and love. The call of Eros is not a call to instant gratification and depravity. It is the call of love. The love that is patient and kind, does not envy, does not brag and that is not puffed up. The love that is not self serving, is not easily angered, does not rejoice in injustice but rejoices in truth. The love that bears all things, believes all things hopes all things and endures all things. (1 Cor 13.4-7)
We are everyday, in each moment called upwards and onward by the great perhaps, what could be. We are called, like the prophets, to outrageously live out a alternate reality in the midst of the present one!
Will you answer the call?