You can read/view most of the Calvin and Hobbes comics referenced in the sermon by clicking here.
The quote from George Eliot’s “Janet’s Repentance” is:
“Perhaps he had some message of comfort, different from the feeble words she had been used to hear from others. She was tired, she was sick of that barren exhortation — Do right, and keep a clear conscience, and God will reward you, and your troubles will be easier to bear. She wanted strength to do right — she wanted something to rely on besides her own resolutions; for was not the path behind her all strewn with broken resolutions? How could she trust in new ones?”
The research about New Year’s resolutions reported in The NY Times can be read here.