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It is January 12, not January 1, but this is my first column of the New Year and hence my first opportunity in this space to list some of my hopes and wishes for 2024. To express wishes and hopes is to run the risk of bathos, not to mention ridicule, especially since in this realm the “large” and the “small” are mixed together, higgledy-piggledy. But the impulse to do so is strong.

I hope that our dear surviving cat, Nina, old now yet still lively, will be with us to celebrate the beginning of 2025 (how strange that looks: “2025”).

I hope the Chicago Cubs will re-sign Cody Bellinger, giving him the pricey, long-term contract that will be required.

I hope that the new work of fiction by A. G. Mojtabai that Gregory Wolfe told me he had in hand some time ago will be published under the splendid imprint of Slant Books this year. (Mojtabai is among my favorite living writers.)

I hope that Daniel Taylor’s book Believing Again will be out from Wipf & Stock before the year’s end (and I’m delighted that Rodney Clapp will be his editor). Dan and Bruce Wiebe and I have been friends since the fall of 1968, when, having transferred to begin my junior year at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, I met the two of them (already friends and suite mates in their dorm) in the first quarter of a three-quarter survey of English literature taught by Edward E. Ericson, a young professor who became a lifelong mentor and friend. You may recall that my wife Wendy and I were married in Chico, in Northern California, on a Saturday morning in September 1968, went to her parents’ house for a lovely small reception, and departed that afternoon for Santa Barbara, arriving past midnight. (My brother drove separately in a van loaded with our bed and our dresser, wedding presents both.) I started at Westmont that Monday.

I hope that, one way or another, Donald Trump is not elected this fall. (But who will be our president?)

I hope that Israel’s campaign to root out Hamas concludes successfully, insofar as success is obtainable, and sooner rather than later.

I hope for respite for my dear wife, Wendy.

I hope our four long-grown children (plus their significant others) and our seven grandchildren will thrive; the eldest grandchild, Theresa, will begin college in the fall.

I hope that the recently arrived migrants who have entered our country in vast numbers, often with children in tow, will find decent lodging, jobs, and “opportunity.” And I hope that, whoever the next president may be, Republicans and Democrats will work together to achieve some semblance of border control.

I hope Anouar Brahem will release a new album this year.

I hope that I won’t have any bad falls this year.

I wish for a moratorium on absurd pieces about “evangelicals” and “evangelicalism.”

I wish that Spencer Quinn’s publisher hadn’t pushed the second adventure of Mrs. Plansky to 2025, but I’m thankful that the next Chet & Bernie novel will appear later this year. 

I hope our church, Faith Covenant in Wheaton, will continue to thrive.

I hope that R. R. Reno and First Things will continue to thrive.

I hope that Samuel Loncar and the Marginalia Review of Books will continue to thrive.

I hope that Micah Mattix and the Prufrock newsletter will continue to thrive.

I hope that Current, presided over by John Fea & Co., will continue to thrive.

I hope that Plough Quarterly and Comment and other magazines I greatly value continue to thrive.

I hope that the 2023 Nobel Laureate in Literature will be the Native American writer Diane Glancy.

I wish for a moratorium on speculations about the impact of AI.

I hope I will hear, out of the blue, from several friends who have long been out of touch.

I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the second volume of J. C. Scharl’s verse-drama trilogy, coming from the blessed Wiseblood Books.

I hope that my “faculties,” as Muriel Spark liked to say, will stay (reasonably) sharp.

I hope that a new novel from T. C. Boyle will appear on schedule.

I hope that my deepest hopes are not fanciful, deceptive, or ridiculous, but rather, however improbably, grounded in a reality that exceeds my imagination. Happy New Year.

John Wilson is a contributing editor for The Englewood Review of Books and senior editor at The Marginalia Review of Books

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Image by Olga1969 via Creative Commons. Image cropped.

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