As we are about to turn the calendar on another year, it's been quite a ride, leaving more questions than answers. The year began with a contentious start of a GOP presidential primary season, a growing struggle over life, conscience and religious liberty, and continued economic uncertainty. The year ended with Barack Obama re-elected for a second term, Congress divided roughly as it was before, and contentious battles over the looming "fiscal cliff", debt limits, and the overall vision of the economy.
The world continues to be on edge as old dictators in the Middle East give way to what may be even more extreme militant Islamist regimes. The attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya resulting in the death of the US Ambassador and three others sparked new doubts about the administration's handling of foreign and military affairs and about America's place in the world.
Violence struck closer to home with shootings by disturbed individuals at a movie theater in Colorado, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and at an elementary school in Newtown , CT (including the deaths of twenty young children) renewing the debate over gun control v. more guns in the hands of responsible citizens, mental health issues, and whether the cultural and moral directions of our society are to blame and whether or how those directions can be changed.
Advances in science, technology and medicine appear to be continuing apace. The announcement of an apparent confirmation of the Higgs Boson, a fundamental elementary particle of matter, and the continuing discovery of a variety of candidate planets around other stars, highlight the basic discoveries. The landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, the initiation of commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station, and the announcements of a number of bold ventures to increase access to space and its abundant resources indicate the human expansion into space may proceed in the midst of economic uncertainty.
In the midst of all the good and bad, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year of Faith that will extend through most of 2013 to spark renewed faith in God among Christians throughout the world during a time of increased secularization and uncertainty. Faith is something we'll need plenty of as we deal with issues of life, liberty, economic uncertainty and expanding frontiers in the new year and beyond.