I’ve been thinking this week about the importance of hope for a community, and the necessity of community to sustain hope. A community must be compelled by a hopeful vision in order to flourish. And when hope diminishes for individuals, the sustaining power of the community can restore that hopeful vision.
This is beautifully depicted in The Book of the Dun Cow. After Chauntecleer has exhausted himself, defeating Cockatrice in their climactic battle, the leader of the coop realizes that a far greater threat remains.
But it is entirely possible to win against the enemy, it is possible even to kill the enemy, and still to be defeated by the battle.
Chauntecleer had not lost his life to Cockatrice , but he’d lost something infinitely more dear. He had lost hope. And with it went the Rooster’s faith. And without faith he no longer had a sense of the truth.
I won’t spoil the novel’s conclusion, but it’s a lovely portrayal of just this redemptive dynamic. Along with a few others, like Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, this novel is one of a few must-reads for pastors and church leaders.