The New Year is here, but I’m not inclined to reflect much on the past annum, which was loaded with big stories, or to prognosticate much about the coming year, which many folks have done, including Johnny Pierce.

Some things take no prophetic ability: lots of Baptist churches in North Carolina will be sending less money to the Baptist State Convention, for instance, and not just the moderate ones who feel like the door was slammed in their face at last year’s November convention.

The economy won’t recover overnight, and more jobs will be lost before things turn around.

Massive suffering will continue in many parts of the world. Dictators will run roughshod wherever they can, and people will starve or die from disease because corrupt government officials seem intent on proving that “total depravity” is a lifelong condition. That’s a sad commentary, but it’s not really a prediction: it’s the just the way things are.

Here’s my one prediction: I do think things will begin to get better this year. The economy can’t turn around on a dime, but it can turn around. America’s reputation in the world can’t be recovered in a day, but we can begin to restore the image of Americans as people of both peace and generosity.

It won’t happen overnight (not even the night of Jan. 19), but I believe that when we come to this place in 2010, we have the potential for things to be a whole lot better.

If I’m wrong, then folks who like to criticize can point fingers and crow, which could make them feel better, if nothing else.

It never hurts to hope.

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