"I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor, selfish grief
Could be dropped, like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again."
We turned a new page last night. 2013--is gone. Where did it go? Outside my house the firecrackers were popping. The fireworks filled the sky. Inside--the old round ball at Times Square slowly made its way down into a screaming crowd of a million people. And so it begins. A new page. A new chapter. What if it could be a whole new book?
God knows we need a page and a chapter without the smudges of this past year. I am told by the Southern Poverty Law Center that hate groups have risen 800% since president Obama was elected. They multiplied in number this year.Congress has voted--how many times to kill the Affordable Care Act? Almost fifty times. Maybe insanity really is doing the same old monotonous defeats over and over and over again. Thanks to our pious cost-savings millions have lost unemployment insurance and food stamps on January 1 thanks to the generosity of Congress. Yep--we' ve got to shut down those safety nets where the poor, unemployed and impoverished will quit driving Mercedes and eating streaks while the rest of us hard-working people are driving Hondas and munching on hamburger. I read somewhere that if people slowly descended from Mars and looked around they would surmise that rich people don't have any money.
The Common good. Liberty and justice for all. We the people. Whatever happened to all of that? Maybe--just maybe this new year we might be kinder and gentler and not so mean-spirited with one another. I'm talking about Democrats and Republicans. Martin Marty, very wise historian has written that in the Christmas wars about Jesus or no Jesus in the public square--that both sides are wrong. The whining doesn't help.
Name calling doesn't help. Hate certainly does not help. Marty says the problem is not the triumph of Christianity over atheism or vice versa. He says the problem is power pure and simple. We could say this about every sticky social issue we face. Somebody, must win and somebody must lose. And that, I do believe, is destructive for the human family.
So back to the blank pages. Douglas Mendenhall journalist in Residence at Abilene (Tx) Christian University has this splendid column I won't to share with everybody who'll read it. It's about our cantankerous, contentious bickering. And how he hopes we do better in 2014. I join him in this prayer and hope. Read it for yourself and do what you can hope for all of us possible. And--a Happy New Year for us all.