The Yule Blog

Walter Russell Mead, a Providence contributing editor, is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, and a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is the author of numerous books, including Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. His most recent book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People, was published by Knopf in March of this year.

Walter’s Yule Blog has been a Christmas tradition for many of his readers since he first published it at The American Interest’s “Via Meadia” blog for the 2009–10 Christmastide. This wonderful, if sometimes laid-aside, season in the Christian calendar runs from Christmas Eve to Epiphany (January 6). Walter’s “Twelvetide” reflections have shepherded many into remembering not just the history but the meaning of Christmas and the Yuletide season.

Providence is thrilled to be the new home for Walter’s Yule Blog and to host it for a second year. Such excitement is appropriate. As Walter writes, “Christianity is the living force behind American liberal ideology as well as American conservativism.” Providence understands that as we let go of the meaning of Christmas, we deracinate ourselves from our collective memory of Christendom, and thereby such virtues as “humility, forbearance, honesty, and tolerance begin to fade from our common life.” The loss of such Christian memory bodes ill for our republic, and what bodes ill for our republic bodes ill for the world.

May these Yuletide reflections be a rock against such forgetfulness and a goad to the quickening of faith, hope, and love—both at home and far abroad. Merry Christmas!

Day 13: The Light at the End of the Yule Blog - Three Wise Men - Three Kings - Epiphany
Day 13: The Light at the End of the Yule Blog

Christmas is important to Christians because from their point of view the Baby Jesus is the meaning of Christmas, and the meaning of Christmas is the meaning of life.

Day 12: How Real is the Meaning?
Day 12: How Real is the Meaning?

History turned a corner with the birth of Jesus Christ, and while the written reports of that event don’t tell me everything I want to know, they do tell me everything I need. The Gospels occupy a kind of center point in human culture as a whole: products of a particular time and place, but comprehensible to all.

Day 11: Sitting in Darkness, Blogging the Light

If we leave religion out of our national conversation, we end up with a vapid conversation that doesn’t address the deepest realities that move most of the people in this country.

Day 10: The Mother of All Meaning

To get any insight at all into what Jesus’ childhood and upbringing were like, you have to do something that sometimes makes Protestants uncomfortable: study Mary.

Day 9: God’s Dilemma

The flawed human race, trapped in a cycle of cascading pain and wrong, is what and who God is bound and determined to love. The question is, how can He do it?

Day 8: One for All - Christmas - Nations
Day 8: One for All

The Christmas story suggests that we can somehow try to be loyal members of our nations, our families, our tribes—and to reach out to the broader human community of which we are also a part.

Day 7: Meaning in 3-D - Yule Blog - Holy Trinity
Day 7: Meaning in 3-D

Nothing separates Christianity from other religions like the two big holidays of Christmas and Easter, and Christmas especially.

Yule Blog Day 6 - Personal Meaning - Christmas
Day 6: Personal Meaning

For Christians, God isn’t the Santa Claus who brought the presents to the tree. He’s the Source and the Power of the love the family members feel for one another on Christmas morning. He’s found in the trust the child feels in the parent, the commitment and love the parent feels toward the child.

Day 5: The Meaning of Christmas - Now God is Born
Day 5: The Meaning of Christmas

Why do Christians and so many other people believe in an invisible Ruler and Creator of the universe—and then how does the Christian idea of God differ from the others?