Hope: A User’s Manual

Eerdmans. Aug. 2022. 160p. ISBN 9780802882318. pap. $16.99. SPIRITUALITY
In her latest book, pastor Dana (God, Improv, and the Art of Living; Sabbath in the Suburbs) challenges readers to exercise hope in this anxious era. She proposes that hope is neither certainty about the future nor a warm feeling; it’s a practiced orientation grounded in the stories people tell and live out in their bodies. Filled with personal anecdotes and a diverse set of conversation partners, this book seeks to be honest about the world’s challenges (climate change, racism, gun violence, etc.) without giving into despair or nihilism. The author succeeds in doing so by not pitting hope against rage, lamentation, and doubt. Anger is the appropriate response to injustice, but anger needs the orientation of hope—which says the world could be better—in order to strive for justice. The book’s chapters are satisfyingly short, able to be read in any order, and include practical exercises.
VERDICT Written for believers of faith and non-believers too (Dana is careful not to distinguish between the two), this book is recommended for readers wanting a sympathetic voice to guide them through these confusing and isolating times.
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