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Will This Year Be Different Than Last?
It will. It won't.
In Ecclesiastes 1:9, we read, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” The writer, traditionally Solomon, or alternatively “Qoheleth” (Hebrew for “teacher”), names plainly what we know to be true but do not always consider: novelty is an illusion. What’s being done, it’s been done before.
The variations, the slight differences, between one experience and the next is what makes us do a double take. And even if someone else has done something before, perhaps there is a novelty to our experience. Outwardly, the doing may appear the same, but inwardly, there is something fresh, something altogether new.
I always enjoy the New Year celebration, not because of the festivities or sentiment. New Year’s Day is just another day. But the world around me slows down just enough for me to look back and look ahead, to consider what was and to hope for what will be, and to try and pinpoint ways in which this next trip around the sun can be just a little bit better than the last.
I set goals and identify priorities. I revisit my principles and try to assess if I’m living in accordance with my deepest commitments. I calendar. And I try to find ways to be a better steward of my time.
I write these things down. Writing clarifies. It also creates a record, one that I revisit every month, every quarter, and then every year.
My rhythm of life has become increasingly defined by the ebbs and flows of the academic calendar and the sporting year. Believe it or not, just the other day I blocked out all of the dates I hope to hold training for my soccer team, and the themes I plan to emphasize on each given day. I’ll coach in the spring, and I’ll return again in the fall. Each season will follow that old familiar rhythm. But the boys will change, I will change, and the results will be revealed.
This year will be different than the last. And it won’t be. I’m glad both things can be true. I’ve come to appreciate our family’s rhythms. But I’m also hoping for change.
As the year drew to a close I finished Andy Weir’s novel Project Hail Mary. If you like science, you’ll like this science fiction novel. The story is okay. I also read John McWhorter’s Woke Racism, a book I recommend, despite his uneven (and in my view, inaccurate) representation of religion. “Wokeism” is a problem. Religion can be positive or negative.
Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals argues against dominant narratives about race in America. I’m about a quarter of the way through. And I just finished a collection of essays, God in the Modern Wing: Viewing Art with Eyes of Faith.
Next, I’m reading Justin Whitmel Earley’s Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms.
Sights and Sounds
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a fantastic movie. I saw Sing 2 over the Christmas holiday, too, and I enjoyed it with my children. I also watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and found it to be so much more enjoyable than the original cut.
Here is a January list of tunes.
On the blog: on writerly ambivalence, disappearing for a while, a poll on the worse (or better?) year, a truly bizarre translation on some packaging, Thomas Kelly on continuous prayer, and prayer as preparation for good work.
Before I go, standard copy.
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Be well this week. Bless others.
P.S. - Made this. Mark Bailey served as head honcho while I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. I think he did a fine job.