What Abe might say: Lincoln biographer Ronald C. White Jr. imagines what counsel Lincoln might give President Obama: Write your own speeches, especially the major ones. Take time for contemplation and reflection amidst the pressures of the office. Don’t rush into solutions for the formidable problems. Value ambiguity, the ability to see reality in its complexity—that is a sign of humility, not weakness (Wilson Quarterly, Winter).
Signs of the times: An atheist group in the United Kingdom is posting signs on buses that say: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” An American group posted a similar message on buses in Washington, D.C.: “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake” (New York Times).
Older and wiser: Henry Alford, 46, has written a book about old age based on conversations with more than 100 people over 70 (How to Live). Althea Washington, a retired school teacher, lost her husband and house in Hurricane Katrina and now lives in a small apartment close to train tracks. When asked how she's coping, she responded: "Can you hear that train? As long as it stays on its tracks, I'll stay on mine" (USA Today, December 30).
Disarming: A Christian women's group in Japan has produced New Year postcards, in English and Japanese, to promote a war-renouncing clause in the country's 1946 constitution. Some politicians have in recent times tried to amend this clause. Tens of millions of New Year cards are delivered throughout Japan on January 1 (ENI).
Voices of 2008 “I have come to the conclusion after two years of debate on immigration without success that it’s going to take the love of Jesus Christ to bring people together.” —Senator Chuck Grassley (R., La.), speaking on the contentious subject of immigration reform