The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
A broad swath of political and cultural leaders in 2006 could have nodded assent to those lines written by William Wordsworth in 1807. From a beleaguered George W. Bush to a ranting Michael Richards, events and words brought low those who recently rode high. Middle Eastern defiance and diatribes mingled as wars and rumors made headlines throughout the year. And yet, tender mercies abounded: Worldwide births outnumbered deaths, and God sometimes turned the hearts of fathers to their children.
Large stories of disease and despair in Africa and elsewhere were hard to overlook, but the even greater story was one of God's grace in generating courage and changing lives. The surge of Christianity in China and other countries continued. Anglicans and others rebelled against denominational leaders who wanted their own words to trump God's. Justice came to many who dug pits and then fell into them, or-like Saddam Hussein-had hidden in them. Secret crimes blinked in sunlight.
Last year at this time reporters recalled a year where hundreds or thousands frequently died at once via natural disaster or unnatural terror. We were spared such broad sadness in 2006, but the one-by-one passage through death's democratic doors continued. The honored dead included Coretta Scott King, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Milton Friedman, Henry Morris, and Ronald Nash; those who had gotten, spent, and wasted more than their share included Slobodan Milosevic, Tokyo Rose, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; but all of us depend on God's grace.