Reflections on the year ahead

iStock/Dilok Klaisataporn
iStock/Dilok Klaisataporn

As I sit in my study writing this column, I find myself in a contemplative mode. I have just experienced a Christmas season unlike any other in my experience. The Sunday before Christmas, my wife of 52 years broke her hip and had to have surgery followed by intense rehab. She just came home from rehab earlier this week.

So Christmas and New Year’s celebrations were unique to our entire family. Without my wife to coordinate the family ballet, the usual smooth harmony was missing, and much was left undone. But it did not really matter. We were together as a family. We love one another, and it put me into a real attitude and posture of gratitude. I cannot begin to adequately describe how grateful we are for our two sons-in-law and our daughter-in-law.

I am so grateful that we live in a community where the first responders arrived 7 minutes after my 911 call. The responders could not have been more professional or solicitous. I followed them to the hospital and the ambulance driver weaved through parking lots to avoid speed bumps out of consideration for my wife’s comfort.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

The care she received from the emergency room forward was impeccable and her prognosis for full recovery is quite high. The surgery was successful. I am so grateful that the medical emergency was something that could be fixed. Our family’s experience has made us all aware of how life can change in a moment, in the literal “twinkling of an eye.”

Life is precious. Tell your loved ones how much you love them and what they mean to you. A medical emergency focuses the senses and highlights priorities.

As I look ahead to the coming year — 2024 — I have spent much time thinking about my country. It feels increasingly like our country has been drifting toward a decision point, and 2024 might be the year when we will truly reach a fork in the road, and we will decisively turn left or right, or up or down, depending on one’s perspective.

One of the benefits of having lived a length of years (in my case, I am in my eighth decade) is that you have a historical perspective. I see an America that is more divided at the social fabric level than at any time since 1968. The political divisions are reflective of deeper social divisions.

The different views that Americans have for how they want their families and themselves to live their lives have propelled an increasing internal migration of Americans moving from “blue” states to “red” states.

About a quarter of a century ago, the British magazine The Economist, writing from the European perspective, ran a cover story about “America’s Two Futures: California or Texas?” Those two states were used to symbolize two very different visions of American society and the differences have been, and are, accelerating in recent years.

When one compares “life” in California and “life” in Texas or Florida, one understands the division is far deeper than traditional “Republican” vs. “Democrat.”

And the political system seems increasingly ill-equipped to channel the disagreements and divisions in productive and manageable ways. When more than half of Americans wish that someone other than the current frontrunners for the Republican (Trump) and Democrat (Biden) presidential nominations would be nominated, the system is clearly not working.

One of the most important factors that should be utilized in addressing the social crises we face is memory. Many of us in the boomer generation (b. 1946-1964) can remember a very different America than the one we experience today where approximately 25% of our children are being reared in homes without a natural, adoptive or stepfather. Father absence has been catastrophic for America’s children, and our fatherlessness rate is much higher than any other society on Earth.

So why is memory so important? I visited the Soviet Union in the last year of its existence (1991). Among other Americans I was traveling with, I was struck by the hopelessness and ennui, particularly of young people. A Russian Evangelical leader explained it his way:

“Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania went communist in 1940. Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia went communist between 1945-1948. China went communist in 1949. There are people in all those countries who can remember before communism and can tell others about how it was. Russia went Communist in 1917 and nobody can remember before the soul-numbing death that is communism.”

Baby boomers can remember when, as the Judds put it so poignantly in “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)":


Tell me ‘bout the good old days

Sometimes it feels like

This world’s gone crazy


Take me back to yesterday

When the line between right and wrong

Didn’t seem so hazy

Did lovers really fall in love to stay

And stand beside each other come what may?

Was a promise really somethin’ people kept

Not just somethin’ they would say?

Did families really bow their heads to pray?

Did daddies really never go away?

Whoa-oh, Grandpa

Tell me ‘bout the good old days."

In 1940, 4% of babies were born without fathers. Today it’s 40%. This is catastrophic news for babies and for America.

Were things perfect for the baby boomers? Of course they were not. Too much racism and too much sexism were two major failings and blind spots. Still, we were taught respect for parents, teachers and the law. We were taught patriotism, and we were taught some things were always right and some things were always wrong.

As the Judds put it in another verse of “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)":


Take me back to yesterday

When the line between right and wrong

Didn’t seem so hazy.”

As I have watched the news just this week and viewed the looting, violence and criminality in our cities, I was reminded once again of the incomparable C.S. Lewis and his trenchant observation about the destructive nature of moral relativism in The Abolition of Man (1943):

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without hearts and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful.”

If you are concerned, as am I, about the crumbling of the family in America, what are we to do? First, pray for spiritual revival and awakening in America. How desperately we need it. Second, commit to helping to rebuild the family in America. PRACTICE FAMILY. Talk to young people “Bout the Good Old Days” and help young people understand what a great country America is and how fortunate we are to be able to call ourselves “Americans.”

Let us all commit to being better fathers and mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, aunts and uncles and model before our nation what healthy, supportive families look and feel like.

You will be doing a noble service for our country and for our posterity.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.