Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2020 Vision

Similar to what I did at this time last year, I am basing some of this last blog posting of 2019 on a special issue of The Economist, the highly respected British news magazine that has been published since 1843. Fairly early in December, I received that issue titled “The World in 2020” and found much of considerable interest in it. First, though . . .

Happy New Year of the Rat!
As I have often done, I am beginning this end-of-the-year/New Year’s posting by referring to the Japanese (and Chinese) zodiac. Following the ancient 12-year cycle, 2020 is the year of the nezumi in Japan.
In English, the East Asian New Year is usually called the Year of the Rat, but the same Japanese word is used for rat and mouse, so New Year’s greetings, etc., are often portrayed by images that look more like cute little mice than repulsive rats. For example, look at this picture of a Japanese New Year’s card: 
Despite the prevalent negative feelings about rats in this country, June and I have a somewhat different sentiment, for two of our children were born in the year of the Rat. In Japan that is not considered a bad thing at all; people who are nezumi-doshi (born in the year of the Rat) are said to be “charming, honest, ambitious, and have a tremendous capacity for pursuing a course to its end” (from “The Twelve Signs of the Japanese Zodiac”).
U.S. Politics in 2020
In my 2018 end-of-the-year blog posting, I wrote that there seemed to be “a strong possibility” that the President would be impeached” in 2019. Well, I called that one right.
I also wrote that the President probably would not be removed from office by the Republican-majority Senate. That decision is now part of the political agenda for the beginning of 2020, but the likelihood of the Senate not convicting the President is probably stronger now than it was a year ago.
The biggest political question for the U.S. in 2020, of course, revolves around the November 3 election. Who the Democratic Party will choose to go up against DJT is anybody’s guess at this point. And even though there is a strong appeal to Democrats and Independents to “vote Blue no matter who,” the populist support for DJT is amazingly strong and resilient.
Daniel Franklin, the editor of “The World in 2020” issue of The Economist writes that there will be “a febrile [= “having or showing a great deal of nervous excitement or energy”] election in November.” He adds. “It will be ugly.” That prediction will almost certainly prove to be true.
Editor Franklin goes on to say that the artificial intelligence he consulted “reckons Mr Trump will lose.” (Can we trust that prediction, or is there “fake AI”?)
The U.S. Economy in 2020
Last year The Economist repeatedly mentioned the possibility of a financial recession in 2019. That, fortunately, did not come to pass. In fact, since Christmas the U.S. stock market has hit all-time highs.
However, for 2020 the editor-in-chief of The Economist not only predicted “febrile politics” but also a “faltering economy.” He writes, “Unfortunately for Mr Trump, a noticeable cooling of the American economy will challenge his claim to have made America great again.”
Will that prediction be more accurate than the similar one was for 2019? Who knows? Certainly, no one has 20/20 vision of what will happen in 2020.
Personally . . .
Although it will not mean a major shift of emphasis, I decided on Christmas Day to start spending more time, especially at the beginning of each day, thinking about “eternal” / “spiritual” matters rather than temporal/political concerns—not that those two spheres are unrelated.
Throughout the coming year, I hope to keep firmly in mind the following words recorded in 2 Corinthians 4:18.
We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal (CEB).
It remains to be seen how much this will affect the blog articles I will be writing and sending to you, my dear Thinking Friends, throughout 2020.
Happy New Year to each of you!


  1. The first person to respond to this posting was Thinking Friend Michael Olmsted in Springfield, Mo., and I appreciate him sending these comments:

    "This new year is little different from the past: there will be tragedy, the daily news will anger and distress me, and I will wonder how long the political nightmare will continue. But in the end I turn the television off, read the wonderful promises of God, and remember nothing stops the grace of God which is the ultimate answer. Maybe not simple or easy, but God has never failed me."

    1. Thank you, Michael, for your significant comments.

      Karl Barth's statement about the importance of the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other has been quoted often. But now that most of us get news from the television or the computer screen and maybe read the Bible on Kindle, it may be difficult to come up with a comparable saying indicating the importance of seeing/reading/hearing both the temporal message of what is and the eternal message of what was, is, and shall be. But certainly we need both--and we need to make sure that we give our primary allegiance to the eternal truths about God and God's grace toward us erring humans.

  2. Thank you, Leroy. I, too, have been reminded to decrease my time on politics to spend more of my time on spiritual things and where it leads me in my life actions in caring and doing for others. I will not abandon my determination to fight for our Republic, but my goal is to not let it overpower my life. One of my goals it to register as many as I can to vote. I have received my training, so I'm headed out to areas of Springfield. My hope will be that they will vote for a change. Happy New Year. I will look forward to 2021, the Year of the Ox: endurance, HONESTY, and diligence.

    1. Thanks for your good comments, Jamea. I appreciate how you recognize both the need for thinking about "spiritual" things as well as the need to work for the good of society in the here and now. It is important, and difficult, to have the right balance between the two.

      I have mixed feelings about registering people to vote. I have been involved in that effort here in the Northland of Kansas City in recent years, but the organization I was working with emphasized that we could not make any suggestions as to who (or which Party) people should vote for. I agree that everyone should be registered to vote and should vote. At the same time, I didn't feel good about registering people whom I thought would probably vote in the "wrong" way.

      I was also happy to hear you were born in the Year of the Ox. (I know how old you are now!) June was also born in the Year of the Ox, so next year will be seven times around the circle for her. But I am a year younger, so I was born in the Year of the Tiger.

    2. I'm not sure, but I think I was born in the year of the rabbit. '51.

    3. Jamea, I'm sorry that I misinterpreted what you wrote. You are two years younger than what I thought, for 1951 is the Year of the Rabbit and it is the year following the Year of the Tiger.

    4. Jamea, I too look forward to 2021, hoping we will have someone in the WH who demonstrates HONESTY as you put it. Funny to think that is just "next year" now!

  3. I especially like your Scripture of 2Cor.4:18 and I started focusing on these things when the News started turning Negative sometime ago.
    I feel the Only one who can change where we are headed(based on Prophecy)is GOD.
    So,I am No longing focusing on what I cannot change and on my Witnessing and Evangelizing the Lost.
    Only my perspective and Praying for a Good&Prosperous year and Beyond for All.
    Still Running The Race,
    Donna Sue& John(Tim) Carr

  4. Yesterday a local Thinking Friend send the following comments by email:

    "A few years ago, while writing on spiritual wholeness, I started with Psalm 1 and determined to concentrate on holiness. My resolve was short lived. So, I hope you will be able to keep to your good intentions, especially with the Trump phenomenon that is sucking the life out things good and true."

    1. It is partly (or largely) because of the current political situation that is "sucking the life out [of] things good and true" that has led me to realize that I must spend time and energy on things other than political and "temporal" concerns.

  5. Happy New Year!

    I'm sure devout followers of Christ will continue to seek Him, and to have significant and divisive differences - it's the way of the Church since very early on, each doing what is right in his own eyes. (At least back then there were whole Church Councils. But even so, devout followers of Christ were anathematised. It remains so to this day.) Heresy and misbehavior needed to be dealt with, but the practice became and remained far to common. So much for Christ's command to Love One Another, and to be One, even as God is one. I am beginning to lean toward one of the early branches anathematized, who followed two particular Apostles - the Oriental Orthodox (we'll see if they are any more loving). God save us.

    As for us who are independent voters, I'm sure we will end up voting for the "lesser of evils" once again, and make a rational choice in doing so. For me, that typically means voting for a mix of Democrats, Republicans, and 3rd Parties for me. God grant us wisdom to follow You.

    But having grown up in another part of the world, I see trouble in all sectors. God have mercy on us.

    Happy New Year!

    1. There is much in the first paragraph that I would like to comment on--and have commented on to some degree in the past--but let me respond briefly to the second paragraph.

      While there may be candidates in races for the U.S. Senate or House who seem better than those of the opposite Party, the way things are now it makes little difference how "good" or "bad" a particular candidate is. If, as we have seen in the recent impeachment votes and will probably see with the upcoming vote for or against conviction in the Senate, the personal quaity of the individual Congressperson or Senator doesn't mean much, for they are all (or almost all) going to vote with their Party. So, if you are going to vote for the "lesser evil," it seems that you have to do that along Party lines, not just on the basis of whether the individual running for office is a good person or not.

    2. I am a fan of neither Democrats nor Republicans and much prefer third party candidates in general, but with the loss of conservative Democrats in DC, I generally hold my nose and vote Republican. But the opposite is true in Jeff City and at the county level. Meanness across the board of politics prevail - first hand, I know it can be threatening, especially with the militants. But politics is not my sojourn, just a duty as a citizen. Would that we had a good centrist third party.

      The spiritual focus does seem better... God grant that we might serve You with goodwill toward others (especially those of goodwill who are different from us).

  6. Here is part of an email received from Thinking Friend Eric Dollard in Chicago:

    "I am looking forward to your more 'spiritual' perspectives in the coming year. And thanks, Leroy, for sharing all of your perspectives during 2019; it is very much appreciated.

    "Peace--let's work harder for it in 2020."

  7. And here are comments, minus the New Year greetings, from Thinking Friend Truett Baker in Arizona:

    "I'm not sure you have convinced me of the credibility of the rat but I'm sure it makes all the sense in the world to your former countrymen."

    Whatever else may happen, I'm sure that 2020 will be a year of increasing conflict in politics. Much depends upon how the presidential election goes. Thanks for sharing 2 Cor 4:18. I too find myself almost obsessed at time with attention to politics. There is a part of me that won't let go that some wonderful things will happen this year. I'm counting on that and praying toward that end."