The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JUNE  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Worlds Apart:
The Audacity of Hope

by JC Bowman

"What do you want on your tombstone?" That is the question the television pitchman asks hawking the popular frozen pizza. In life, that is a question to ask as well. What do you want on your tombstone? What legacy will you leave the world? Will you be remembered? And if so, how?

I have always said I will be successful when I stand alone before God and I hear the words at the end of my days: "well done my good and faithful servant." I want my life to have meaning. But applause from the masses pale in comparison to applause from God. Living apart from the world makes meaning in life an impossible challenge. Isn't that what we desire to find meaning in life? The Old Italian proverb finché c'è vita c'è speranza is a reminder. It means as long as there is life there is hope. I am convinced that one of the major reasons Barack Obama is having his message resonate with so many people has been his message of hope to people. In fact, taking his message from the 2004 Democratic Convention, he has built a serious campaign for President of the United States in 2008 upon the theme of hope. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. As a nation, and as individuals, we need to hear those kinds of messages from people in power. As human beings, we need hope. Even false hope is better than none.

There is a time for negativity and facing the realities of living in a complex world, but we must balance that with hope for a better future. If we fail to do that the black clouds of darkness will surround us giving us no comfort, and worse will rob us of our future. It is true that while there's life there's hope. I would also argue that where there is hope there is life. Where there is no hope, there is no life. Former Beatle John Lennon gave his final interview on Dec. 8, 1980. Reflecting on life, he said "The whole map's changed and we're going into an unknown future, but we're still all here, and while there's life, there's hope." That very night, Mark David Chapman pumped four bullets from a .38-caliber pistol into Lennon. And for John Lennon all hope was gone and life was over.

Which brings us back full circle, what legacy will you leave the world? How will you be remembered? Last month, I raised a question that angered a few readers. In discussing the refurbished building at the old Office Max location

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator. Is a freelance public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN. Prior to this, he was Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University.  He served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.



site of the T. L. Lowery Ministry Center, I asked a question: Does it honor God or does it honor man? Can we do both? My intent was not to belittle any person. I was actually asking a much deeper question, which fits into this month's topic as well. What is our purpose on earth? My father-in-law would say the correct answer is to glorify God. He is a much wiser man than I am. The point I want to make is that we should let all of our actions glorify God. That is a task we all fall short of accomplishing, and perhaps I more than most. I can still embrace hope to accomplish that task for I am very much still alive and my epitaph has not been written on my tombstone.

I am touched by humanity and it impacts me in a powerful, supernatural way. I emphasize with the plight of those less fortunate than myself and I seek to do what I can. I have never felt the call to the mission field, but I have always felt part of a global mission. I am proud of our nation's role in the world stage. I do believe we live in the greatest country in the world. If that is arrogant, then let me be considered arrogant. Blame it on my distant French ancestry. But the greatness of our country does not come from our wealth, it comes from our people. There are no other people in the world like Americans. We put the word passion in compassion. And we are the most compassionate people on the face of the earth. I think our compassion does glorify God and I think it also brings hope to mankind. Our nation has a wonderful Christian heritage, and I pray we never lose it. Our greatness is rooted in our goodness.

In times of trouble we know where to turn, to the giver of life and the giver of hope. Marianne Williamson put it in her book Everyday Grace: "... The fact remains that there are things we cannot know. Whatever is happening is simply happening. And, from a spiritual perspective, anything negative that happens has only one purpose: to foster compassion in the human heart. Anything can fuel the fires of compassion if our hearts are open wide enough. As it is written in the Bible, "What man has intended for evil, God intends for good." Even the most horrific situations can increase within us our capacity to love." Think of natural disasters, terrorist attacks

or simple acts of daily kindness you will find people of faith extending their hands to help others.
If this article seems overly religious I do not apologize. I am not ashamed of my faith. My faith is not a crutch nor is it a stick. I don't need to hide behind it or use it to beat people into the Kingdom with it. I don't need a monument to it. While I think many different religions teach elements of truth, I have found complete truth in my Christian faith. In a world where you are defined by material possessions, educational attainment, sex or even the color of your skin, it is overwhelming to know we all come to the Cross as equals. Jesus does not care about man made categories that define us. In general, denominational differences are dividers across the Christian landscape. However, I embrace the diversity of differences and worship. It is simply about a relationship for me. Not a barrier, but a richness to explore within my faith to experience His grace. It is far too easy to forget how level the ground is around the cross. Jars of Clay put their realization of undeserving grace in the song "Worlds Apart" singing:

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me
Did You really have to die for me?
All I am for all You are
What I need and what I believe are worlds apart

If you want to experience the audacity of hope, begin by putting faith in something greater than yourself. If you are worried about what will be written on your tombstone start by leaving a legacy grounded in compassion for others. If you want to change the world, touch the lives of those around you. If you want to be really remembered and hear the words "well done my good and faithful servant" start paying more attention to the words written in red and give the hope of Christ to others. It is the only gift that bridges two worlds. Christ gives eternal hope to even the most downtrodden even when there does not appear to be any hope.

--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
He can be reached by email at:

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