Optimistic/Pessimistic/Possibilistic | The Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson, Rector

01.28.22 | Community, International, Pulpit Posts, Uncategorized, World

In a recent article for the New York Times titled Dear People of 2022: What Would You Ask Your Future Self?, author Matthew Thompson wrote about the work of doctor and public speaker Hans Rosling. During his life, Dr. Rosling gave a series of TED talks in which he challenged the narrative that our world was on a hopeless trajectory to destruction. He focused on highlighting progress, and his work was very controversial. Some experts were drawn to his conclusions, others accused him of cherry-picking data and massaging its presentation.

Although Dr. Rosling has been dead for five years, his message continues to be relevant—especially during this time of ongoing pandemic, political division and environmental instability. Although many called him an optimist during his career, he rejected both optimism and pessimism as ineffective responses to reality. “I’m not an optimist,” he wrote. “That makes me sound naïve. I’m a very serious ‘possibilist.’”

In response to Dr. Rosling’s focus on progress and possibility, the NYT article challenged readers to reflect on these questions:

  •  What do you expect will change in your community over the next year?
  •  What changes are you hoping for?
  •  What changes do you fear?
  •  How do you feel about potential change (optimistic, pessimistic, or possibilistic)?

These questions are resonant for us, as we prepare to gather for our Annual Parish Meeting on Sunday. Although Dr. Rosling did not offer his insights through a theological lens, the realities of hope, fear, and the inevitability of change are woven throughout both our Scripture and our congregational life. We discuss business at the Annual Meeting, of course, and it is also a time to reflect intentionally on where we are and where God is calling us to be.

Please join us. You can hear my Rector’s address during the 11 am service (live and livestreamed). The meeting itself will convene on Zoom at 2 pm, where election results will be announced, and reports offered on various aspects of our common life. I look forward to our time together, and to sharing ideas about how God is calling us to be “faithful possibilists” here at Church of the Holy Apostles.

Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson

Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson


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