On the penultimate day of the year 2019 The Christian daily Dagblad Trouw published an article with the following headline: 2019: More burn-out, more atheists and more electric cars. The growing number of electric cars in the Netherlands is a welcome contribution to combat the serious climate change that threatens many facets of our existence. Opinions on the increase in the number of atheists in the Netherlands (by about eight percent in ten years) differ. On the one hand, there are still large groups of believers who view this trend with regret, while on the other hand many think this is a very positive development. For many, religion is a curse rather than a blessing. The increase of the burn-out phenomenon is extremely worrying. What can be done to reduce the workload of a large part of the working population, so that burn-out can be prevented.
Of course, many other things have changed in the second decade of this century, in a positive or negative way. The feeling of security has decreased among the Dutch population, while crime has in fact decreased! The population has increased by about 700,000 people. For a considerable part (over 400,000) this is due to the arrival of migrants. This increase is much less significant than many populist politicians want us to believe, with their claims that the country is flooded with fortune seekers from all over the world. Their alarmist messages that Islam is becoming stronger and stronger are also premature, to say the least. In the past ten years several religious communities have shrunk, but the United Protestant Church in the Netherlands and Islam have remained virtually at the same level. Among others changes in the past ten years are the enormously increased use of smartphones and the use of the social media, and shopping on the internet! And then, of course, there is the exploding concern about climate change.
But at the turn of the year – and this time at the transition from one decade to the next – we are not only looking at what has happened, but also at what the coming years will bring us. We hope for more peace, and less global polarization. Above all, I, for one, hope there will be a change in the upcoming presidential elections in the United States. And in our own lives we hope for health and energy for ourselves and our loved ones, and for joy and satisfaction in our activities.
It goes without saying that I am also thinking about the future of the Church to which I belong and which is dear to me. Will we see the changes that many, with me, are longing for during the world congress in July in Indianapolis? Will we get new leaders who will let go of the stifling approach of the past ten years and who will give the church the breathing space that is needed for a healthy development of our faith community? I am referring to space for the regions of the world to color Adventism within the culture and world view of their part of the world (this alone can offer a solution to the ongoing impasse surrounding the role of women in the church). And I am referring to space for the individual believers, to be allowed to think independently, to ask questions and to find their own answers within the contours of a common tradition.
This is my last blog of this year. I managed to post a new blog every week. Not every piece was equally profound, but it is nice that every day there are still dozens, and often a few hundred, readers. A warm thank-you to all of you, and God’s blessing for the new year!