A Hope in the Unseen

by

Ron Suskind

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Bishop Long is the head of Scripture Cathedral, the Pentecostal church that Barbara and Cedric belong to. He is a central figure in their lives, as they attend services at the church twice a week at minimum, until Cedric leaves for college. He is a complicated figure in the story, because he seems to prey on the poor and downtrodden, preaching that they should literally give their last precious dollar to Scripture Cathedral, with the vague promise that it will return to them tenfold; in contrast to his parishioners, who are mired in poverty, Bishop Long himself lives in a nice house in the suburbs and owns two Cadillacs. He provides necessary moral support to the Jennings while Cedric is young, but Cedric begins to outgrow the church after his first year at Brown and respectfully asks for Long’s permission to leave the church. While Bishop Long’s brand of religion—focused on complete and total faith in God to solve all of one’s problems—is no longer relevant to Cedric’s life, Bishop Long’s teachings on faith and morality are still a central part of the boy’s consciousness.

Bishop Long Quotes in A Hope in the Unseen

The A Hope in the Unseen quotes below are all either spoken by Bishop Long or refer to Bishop Long. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Broadway Books edition of A Hope in the Unseen published in 1998.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Faith is taking the last $10 from your checking account and saying, ‘God, I give this to you, because I have nothing but faith, I live on faith, and I know in my heart that you’ll bring it back to me in ways too grand and too many for me to even imagine.’”

Related Characters: Bishop Long (speaker), Cedric’s Mother / Barbara Jennings
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

“You’re low, you’re tired, you’re fighting, you’re waiting for your vision to become reality—you feel you can’t wait anymore! […] Say ‘I’ll be fine tonight ‘cause Jesus is with me.’ SAY IT! SAY IT!”

Related Characters: Bishop Long (speaker), Cedric Jennings
Related Symbols: The SAT
Page Number: 75-76
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

The problem stems from a conundrum he’s thought through a thousand times. Worldly success—the kind of genuine, respect-in-the-community, house-in-the-suburbs achievement that he finds among his neighbors in Mitchelville—has never fit well inside the doors of Scripture. And going to college is a first step on that path away from here.

Related Characters: Bishop Long (speaker), Cedric Jennings
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Cedric, ushered here mostly by adrenaline and faith, realizes he’s now facing a living, breathing, credentialed counterpart to his revered Bishop. Nothing theoretical about it. Around here, nothing is exempt from dissembling questions and critical examination—not even religion itself. He can see Bishop’s one eye, looking through him, and hear the words, “The only true answers lie with God.”

Related Characters: Cedric Jennings, Bishop Long
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Quotes

“I still believe in God, that Jesus is my personal savior, and my friend, and my guide, but I just don’t feel as tied to the church so much anymore. I like coming and all, but, at the same time, I feel like I’m ready to venture out.”

Related Characters: Cedric Jennings (speaker), Bishop Long
Page Number: 358
Explanation and Analysis:
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A Hope in the Unseen PDF

Bishop Long Character Timeline in A Hope in the Unseen

The timeline below shows where the character Bishop Long appears in A Hope in the Unseen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Don’t Let Them Hurt Your Children
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...as ten percent of her meager wages. As she sits down for the service, Bishop Long makes his appeal for donations by claiming that giving one’s last dollar to God is... (full context)
Chapter 3: Rise and Shine
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...the women in front of him look back at him to admire his voice. Bishop Long, who is leading the service, begins to talk about struggle, and it strikes a chord... (full context)
Chapter 5: To Him Who Endureth
Anger Theme Icon
...be like there. She gives her son some general advice of the kind that Bishop Long would offer, and he brushes it off. (full context)
Chapter 6: The Pretender
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...Cathedral is an oasis of air conditioning, and many of the services are full. Bishop Long has a hard time controlling the pride he feels in the size of his congregation... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Long begins his sermon by reaching out to the women of his congregation, whom he thinks... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Bishop Long knows that he belongs with the poor and downtrodden, and that he owes his career... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Long finishes his sermon with a call to contribute $20 to the church—in fact, he asks... (full context)
Chapter 7: Goodbye to Yesterday
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Anger Theme Icon
...D.C. towards New England, they begin to talk about school breaks. Barbara explains that Bishop Long will be sending money so that Cedric can come home for Thanksgiving, and he responds... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
Academic Support Systems Theme Icon
...philosophy. He feels internally conflicted about the religious studies course, because he can feel Bishop Long’s eyes on him, reminding him that the only true answers come from God. (full context)
Chapter 8: Fierce Intimacies
Class vs. Wealth Theme Icon
Anger Theme Icon
...often backed up by violence, Cedric also had daily support from his mother and Bishop Long, as well as the constant reminder of the negative consequences of those actions, in the... (full context)
Chapter 9: Bill Payers on Parade
Race, Racism, and Identity Theme Icon
...which gives his mother a mission for the day. She also tells him that Bishop Long would like Cedric to call him, which is something she has arranged out of fear—Cedric... (full context)
Chapter 11: Back Home
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...believes she was taken over by the Holy Spirit. She got on stage with Bishop Long, and something came over her, though Cedric is skeptical about whether or not the Holy... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...to help him. When the service is over, they begin to talk about what Bishop Long said about looking presentable when coming to church, and before long they are screaming at... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...worrying about showing off, Cedric begins to think about conversations he has had with Bishop Long about the sin of pride. He wonders where the line is between using one’s gifts... (full context)
Chapter 14: Meeting the Man
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
A few weeks later, Cedric dresses and goes to church to speak with Bishop Long. They talk about Barbara first, and Bishop Long tells Cedric that she must rely on... (full context)
Religion and Hope Theme Icon
...sleeping in. He does not want to separate from the church entirely, and wants Bishop Long to understand that he will be attending every once in a while. Before the service... (full context)