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It’s winter and even in the Palmetto State, this winter has brought challenges. Local television weather reporters seem thrilled as they report the latest weather forecasts of an inch or so of snow. The newest ace cub reporter produces the usual snow-related story about the local highway department’s supply of salt and chemicals. I’ve sampled my portion of coffee and conversation during this season of staying indoors.

Winter’s hard because it’s time to fill in the data for the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration, which compiles the information to understand the state of the denomination. While numbers don’t tell the whole story, they reveal enough about the successes and failures of the past year. A narrative report would highlight other aspects of the congregation’s story.

But wait!–winter’s not all that bad. I’m helping people adapt A World Worth Saving as they prepare to teach the book during the season of Lent. I’ve heard about the book from people in places as different as Minnesota and Oregon and Texas and they talked about the sense of hope that they gained from the book. I’ve done some book signings. I have commitments to talk about the book with some groups and to teach the book to two groups. I’m also writing another project, which will be a good and fun book once I get over the hump of writing-editing-rewriting-editing-rewriting one section that still does not work. I’m going to consign this section to the outer darkness and there it may gnash its metaphorical teeth.

At the coffee club we talk about these things and other matters. Tomorrow morning we’ll talk about the State of the Union address. I’ve cheered and argued with Presidential rhetoric going back to the days of LBJ. After we analyze the speech, we may talk about professional football, but then we’ll return to important topics: the Orioles, the Red Sox, and the Yankees.

I hope that you maintain perspective this winter.