The unifying element of these 17 essays is hope, which Father Hating perceives as one of the great existential themes of the '70's. The great enemy of Christianity, he says, and of human happiness, is pessimism; and he goes on to demonstrate that hope is the foundation without which authentic Christianity cannot exist -- and the basis on which faith and love are erected and the focal point of the sacraments. Haring's message, essentially, is that there is no such thing as a ""hopeless case."" Not even the Church can condemn one to hopelessness (although some representatives of the Church do try). It is true, however, that Haring's hope is often of a restricted nature; for while his applications are progressive, his principles are not. Thus, the ""hope"" of the prostitute is reform and marriage; of homosexuals, successful therapy and marriage. Hating may be right. The hopeless case may not exist. But what comes closest to it is the theologian who believes that hope, for man in the '70's, consists in the anticipation of conformity.