It is time to check in with my readers and to wish them all a Merry Christmas.  So here goes.

An article of mine, about 85-pages in length, will be published this Spring in the University of La Verne Law Review.  The work concerns the secularization of America's public culture and some of the players who were actively involved in the process.  It will constitute my seventh law review article during the last six years.  Anyone concerned to know why the idea of God has only a peripheral place in American public institutions will, I hope, find my treatment of the subject interesting and informative.

I will soon be researching and writing about the sermons preached by American clergy between 1730 and 1805. I trust this project will be no less eye-opening for readers, not only as a light upon what happened in our country's past, but also upon what is happening (or not happening) today. I will be in touch with you following my completion of the writing.

Gee, much has happened since I last signed off in this blog!  The American people have emphatically renounced Barack Obama's policies. They have expressed immense dismay over his attempt to increase the size of government and, specifically, his amateurish leadership on matters such as national unemployment, the devaluation of the dollar, the healthcare crisis, the development of reliable energy sources, the administration of justice, the national debt, and international affairs (having to do with North Korea, Iran, and Israel, for example).

The brilliant wit of two-time Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson comes to mind.  Once after losing a hard-fought campaign, he declared that he felt like the boy who stubbed his toe in the dark and exclaimed, "It hurts too much to laugh, but I'm too old to cry."  These words are close to capturing the way I feel about the United States of America at the moment.  I am referring not only to the specific problems noted above, but also to the filth of Hollywood, the intellectual vacuity of television, the agenda-driven media, the irresponsible Congress, our ineffectual educational system, and a culture of tattoos, marijuana, and promiscuity.  The state of this world and of the role we Americans play in it confuse my senses; I would laugh if I could, but it hurts too much, and I might even cry, but I'm too old.

Yet the star of Christmas dawns in the midst of hopelessness.  The Christ child, I try to remember, was born in messy and disordered circumstances.  There was no room for the couple in the inn; so they took up in a stable, where the mother gave birth, and then swaddled the child in rags and placed him in a cattle trough to sleep.  The scene is replete with poetic irony. 

To be sure, things are dark and dismal now, but they were then as well.  Augustus Caesar ruled the world, and the hairline fracture of growing decadence was already visible to the naked Roman eye. There in Judea, a seething and beleaguered province of Rome, in a city called "Bethlehem," a savior was born. But the world was blind to the majesty of the event. 

Too much "chaos" and "confusion" no doubt.  Interestingly, the word "bedlam" is derived from the name "Bethlehem."  Can you believe it?  Christ comes in chaos and confusion -- in the sheer bedlam of our lives!  That has usually been my experience at least.  How about yours?  He came to those in Bethlehem, and he comes to us today, bringing hope that never dies.  May you find the joy of Christmas this year, even in the bedlam of your life.

I hope that each of you makes a point to honor Christmas 2010 in a special way, perhaps in a manner you have not honored any Christmas before.  I hope that you will give special thanks to God this season for both your spiritual and material blessings, and not least for the rich cultural heritage that emanates from Christianity, a heritage that shines upon us all, even when our faith wanes and our spirits are afraid. 

I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a joyous and hopeful New Year.  May God bless us everyone.





December 8, 2010