Before you go out partying tonight you might want to ponder what's ahead for 2009 -- assuming you have a Designated Arrestee and don't spend the next year in the slammer. That is, you might want to get into the prophecy game.
We could categorize upcoming 2009 events, of course, by looking at, say, politics, environmentalism, sports, education, economy and on and on. Well, mostly you'll have to find other sources to help you think about those areas.
I'm going to focus on what big religion stories you might expect for next year. And to do that, I'm going to hook you up with the list prepared for the Religion Newswriters Association on its Religionlink.org site. For that list, click here.
It's a pretty thoughtful list, ranging from a religious response to the economic mess, to talk of the end times (back up to my Dec. 27-28 posting for some thoughts on that) to changes in the religious landscape, along with several topics in between.
One category it doesn't include, however, is what I might call "The Unexpected." For instance, if Pope Benedict XVI dies in 2009, it obviously will be a major religious story, along with the choice of the next pope.
Similarly, if Osama bin Laden gets captured or killed, it will have to be included among the top stories with a religious thread if only because bin Laden has insisted on couching his destructive political ideology in distorted Islamic religious terms. And what if James Dobson of "Focus on the Family" marries Pat Robertson? Talk about unexpected. Or what if George Carlin comes back from the dead to apologize for the way he criticized religion for so long. Or what if Bill Maher becomes a monk? Or Christopher Hitchens a nun?
See? You just never know with religion.
So be aware of the trends in religion by knowing religious history and how it is playing out now. And then make room for some unexpected developments in 2009. In fact, just for fun, why don't you give us your best prediction for a surprising 2009 religious story?
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DOES GOD PICK AND CHOOSE?
Finally, let's end the year with another God mystery. Why would God save this little Jamaican 2-year-old but not other toddlers who died in 2008? Is it that the Lord works in mysterious ways or that maybe the child survived for reasons unrelated to God? Or can we even know the answer to that?