Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: What a Ride!

Another year has passed. While each year has its individual joys and sorrows felt by each of us and those we love, there are those events and historical developments we share in common, and 2016 certainly has had some unique ones.

2016 saw its share of bloody violence, from all out warfare in Aleppo to terrorism in Orlando to individual murderous acts in Baltimore, to name only a few examples. Tensions festered along racial and other lines, sometimes agitated to advance political agendas.

Progress continued to advance forward, with fits and starts, on many fronts including medicine, technology, commercial space development, etc. Bold plans are laid out for the future (e.g. Elon Musk's plans for settling Mars). Time will tell which plans bear fruit and on what time scale.

In the US, presidential politics dominated attention. A year ago, many wondered whether Donald Trump's candidacy had serious potential or was more of a pop culture sensation. After out-hustling a formidable and talented GOP field of candidates, Trump swept to the nomination in Cleveland and went to take on the favored (and Media darling) Hillary Clinton. In the early morning hours of November 9, many were astounded to find that Donald Trump acquired enough electoral votes to become the 45th President of the United States. Economic anxiety, national security concerns, rejection of extreme "progressive" policies on abortion and other issues all can be cited as deciding factors, along with a general sense that elites in power are not in touch with the concerns of many average citizens.

With the presidential transition pressing ahead and appointments to key positions already named, the table is being set for some of the leading developments of 2017. Trump's confrontational personality combined with the unhinged negativity of some of his opponents mean there will likely be rancorous times ahead, but more important is whether we can make headway in protecting life, defending liberty, maintaining national security and global stability, and achieving expanded prosperity.

Well, wishing you and yours God's blessings and peace and all the best on this new frontier we call 2017.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Have a Holy and Merry Christmas!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:1-14

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hanukkah and Our Attitude about the Future

(This is a post I originally made in 2003 and feel is worth repeating each year, especially in light of some very dark anti-human views of the future vs. ongoing and emerging developments that can provide resources for future generations (e.g.  this headline from last year.)

Rabbi Daniel Lapin has a provocative column in WorldNetDaily on a message of Hanukkah that is relevant to people of all faiths. He shows examples, ancient and modern, of how a pessimistic Malthusian worldview has been repeatedly disproved by the Creator's providence of material resources and the ingenuity to utilize them to provide for the future. Rabbi Lapin says:
It only seemed that we lacked sufficient copper, whale oil or wood. In reality, our God-given ingenuity developed exciting new technology that eliminated our need for each commodity just as it was becoming scarce.

Hanukkah's miracle was that, day after day, the Temple's menorah just kept on burning in spite of an apparent shortage of fuel - a metaphor, surely, for all apparent shortages that can be overcome with faith. Hanukkah invites us all to express gratitude to the Creator whose beneficence is boundless. It stimulates discussions that can spur our spiritual growth. It reminds us that with His gift of creativity, challenges become optimistic opportunities to partner with God in creatively solving all material shortage.