Welcome to 2016! For some of you reading this, it has already started. For others, including me, it is still a few hours away. I want to thank you for reading my blog posts in the last six months. In the new year I will continue to post on Asian history, Christian-Muslim relations and contemporary issues, and an occasional future-oriented theme. As of now the blog in its first six months has received about 5,800 views. I would love to have more comments but have appreciated some good discussion whether on the blog site or on Facebook.
Due to other responsibilities I’m not able to post every day, but have been able to do so about every fourth day and hope to continue that pace in the year ahead. I’m also grateful for those readers who have gone to my other pages, whether the recommended books, the list of my chapters and articles, or past posts. Please feel free to make suggestions on how the site can be improved as well as possible topics for blog posts.
In musing on the year ahead, there are three words that describe some of what I feel. First, this year has been filled with extremely heart-breaking stories of what the people of Syria and Iraq are continuing to go through. More refugees (over one million!) have come into Europe this year than any time since World War II, many of them from Syria. Also the plight of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East continues to be of deep concern. But even with all of that, the feeling I have is HOPE.
It would be so easy to despair with all the incredible human suffering going on. And perhaps that is the most natural thing to do. But there are also stories emerging more and more of how people are coming to new places of faith and hope in their lives even in all the pain. I look to 2016 to be a year of new hope and new life for the Middle East, not in a dramatic way that ends suffering, but in individual lives and families.
The year 2016 is a presidential election year in the United States. And writing that I can hear a collective groan from millions of Americans. I will be living out of the country for much of the year, but even then there is a feeling of WEARINESS in me related to it all. Weariness of the political gridlock, of the mean-spirited exchanges from both left and right.
No one can predict with absolute certainty what will happen in the next several months of political battles, or who will emerge from each party as the candidate. But I must confess, perhaps as strange as it may sound, that I personally need some of the hope from what I feel for the Middle East to be injected into me for this country.
A large chunk of the coming year will find me in India, a nation that I have lived in for over 30 years. As I wrote a few months ago in a blog post, I have a strong sense of expectation on how India’s future can be a bright and positive one both for its over one billion people but also in global influence. But at the moment I feel an AMBIGUITY about India and its immediate future. There are very mixed signals going on related to the economy, treatment of minorities, and relationship with neighbors including Nepal.
What do you feel going into 2016? Hope? Weariness? Ambiguity? Or so many other thoughts and emotions?
But in all of it I rest in PEACE knowing, in the words of a mystic in the fifteenth century English Church named Julian of Norwich, that “all will be well”.
Happy New Year! And thanks for visiting my site and reading my blog posts.