New: ‘ACCESS to School’ celebrates an all-American success story

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ACCESS to School team launch their book

Team members from ACCESS gather to launch their new book at the Arab American National Museum. (Launch-event photos by Charles Baeder, used courtesy of ACCESS.)

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By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit.com

ACCESS to School book front cover

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

This week, our publishing house launched the first of six books, in partnership with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, telling the story of innovative programs to improve the school readiness of young children in low-income communities. The new book, ACCESS to School, tells readers nationwide about an unusual preschool program in a community that is attracting immigrants from rural Yemen fleeing the ongoing, lethal turbulence in their homeland.

That neighborhood also is home to many Hispanic-American families and one pleasant surprise in this ACCESS program are the friendly multi-lingual friendships that have formed between immigrant families from various parts of the world. These new Americans aren’t planning to stay locked in ethnic enclaves; they are eager to form cross-cultural relationships.

The book is an inspiring, true story about this program in Detroit, Michigan, that begins by teaching parents English as a Second Language—and then goes on to help the parents prepare their pre-schoolers to start attending public schools. It’s a huge challenge. At least some of parents in the program come from remote rural areas where they never had an opportunity to attend school.

Authors of ACCESS to School from left Nahed Alkashbari Amanda Morgan Anisa Sahoubah and Breanne Wainright

Authors of ‘ACCESS to School’ from left: Nahed Alkashbari, Amanda Morgan, Anisa Sahoubah and Breanne Wainright.

The success of the Detroit program, developed by educators from the Michigan nonprofit ACCESS, is nothing short of amazing. In the book, readers discover how the program was started, the challenges educators faced in launching this creative program and responses from children and parents who have taken this training.

Overall, the book shows how similar these immigrants’ stories are to the beloved stories told in countless American families about ancestors who crossed the world to contribute in healthy ways to communities in the U.S.

United Way team working with Social Innovation Fund and ACCESS

United Way for Southeastern Michigan team who facilitated the publishing project, from left: Rebecca Tallarigo, Shaun Taft, Jennifer Callans and Lindsey Miller.

“There is also a larger reason that our publishing house is proud to be working with United Way and ACCESS to send this book out to readers nationwide. All Americans need to hear this kind of inspiring story about Arab and Muslim immigration,” I said this week—speaking as Editor of our publishing house at the launch event for the book at the Arab American National Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate that originally was established by ACCESS.

“In 2016, we are hearing more toxic anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric in national politics than we have heard in more than a decade,” I said. “This book vividly reminds readers that America is a nation of immigrants. We need to be reminded that the strong American values these recent immigrants share are right in line with the stories told in countless American families whose ancestors arrived over the past century.

“This year, too many Americans are publicly reviving stereotypes about immigrants from the Arab world as if such new Americans bring dangerous values with them. In fact, we have the Islamic world to thank for preserving the world’s ancient wisdom and values for all of us. Most Americans don’t even know this vital chapter of our world history. This new book is all about educational innovation in one neighborhood today. But, as we talk about the importance of this new book—we also can say that this first book in the United Way series comes out of a community that historically has valued literacy as a way to improve our world.”

INNOVATION IN THE MUSLIM WORLD

What does that comment mean? The audience at the museum understood the reference, explained in historical displays in one gallery after another. Here’s some background on that vital part of our shared history:

Library in the Islamic Golden Age (1)

A 13th Century library in the Islamic world.

Today, we would have lost much of the world’s classic literature if not for the centers of translation and publishing, including the creation of diverse public libraries, that were hallmarks of the Islamic Golden Age. In the 8th and 9th century, Arab-Muslim scientists embraced research into mathematics, glass-making, astronomy, medicine and chemistry.

The Quran teaches that scholarship is a God-given talent and, in the Golden Age, great libraries were organized to preserve our collective wisdom. As the centuries passed, the Islamic world was a global center for map making, mechanical engineering, calligraphy and a wide range of talents used in publishing.

Care to read more? Just one example is the great library and center of scholarship known as the House of Wisdom, described in Wikipedia.

AMERICAN DREAMS & OUR CHILDREN

Khali Gibran in the 1880s (1)

Portrait of the artist as a young man: Khalil Gibran at age 15 in his new American home.

The final story I shared at the book launch involves perhaps the greatest Arab-American poet: Khalil Gibran, also profiled in Wikipedia. Gibran was born into a Maronite Christian family, but throughout his life he wrote about themes at the heart of many of the world’s great religious traditions.

In addressing the crowd at the book launch, I pointed to the poster-size cover of the new book and said, “Just look at the eager faces of the children on this book’s cover. Here in this museum, one of the main galleries opens with an exhibit on the famous poet Khalil Gibran. Gathered here today, we all know and celebrate this world-class poet. But, you may have forgotten that he arrived in Boston’s south side in 1895 at age 12 with a mother so poor that she had to work very hard to support him.

“The transformative moment in young Khalil’s life was his enrollment in a program that today we would call English as a Second Language—much like the families in this ACCESS program are doing more than 120 years later!

“That early opportunity helped him to become the Khalil Gibran the whole world celebrates today. Now, look again at the faces of the children on this new book cover. We could be looking at the faces of future Khalil Gibrans.”

 

 

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Ken Wilson adds a P.S. to his influential ‘Letter’ on LGBT inclusion

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Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

By DAVID CRUMM
ReadTheSpirit EDITOR

“Third way”—the phrase is buzzing through religious groups where members are searching desperately for some graceful and faithful way to welcome gay and lesbian members after a long history of condemning them. The Rev. Ken Wilson is widely regarded as the man who turned the “third way” idea into a national movement, largely through his popular and influential book A Letter to My Congregation and his ongoing website Third Way Newsletter. This spring, he is publishing an expanded second edition of his book to tell more of his story and to clarify what it means to chart a “third way” for congregations.

The latest major denomination to introduce the “third way” phrase is the United Methodist Church, which concluded its worldwide General Conference in Portland, Oregon, last week. The phrase “third way” was used by some church leaders debating strategies to get around the long-standing United Methodist condemnation of gay people—a condemnation so serious that the church’s pastors can be fired for so much as blessing a same-sex couple. The global conference ended with no immediate change on LGBT inclusion, which effectively maintains the church’s harsh condemnation for now. But, leaders did agree to a special gathering in 2018 where these issues will be reviewed in a comprehensive way.

What’s clear is that a “third way” option will be vigorously discussed for the next two years in one of America’s largest mainline denominations.

Wilson watched events unfold at the United Methodist conference from a distance, reading press reports. Overall, he said the denomination’s movement seems hopeful, especially by exploring a “third way” option. But he is not a member of that church.

As readers of the first edition of his book know, he was one of the nation’s leading pastors in the Vineyard denomination when he launched the third way within his large Ann Arbor, Michigan, congregation. Some Vineyard leaders followed his example; others staunchly opposed the move. In early 2014, A Letter to My Congregation carried his story coast to coast and drew many new, strong supporters of his compassionate approach to inclusive ministry. Since that time, Wilson has moved on from Vineyard to help establish a new denomination called Blue Ocean Faith that holds “third way” as a core principle.

The second edition of his book, first, shores up and clarifies some of the key points he makes about “third way.” Then it also tells the story of the remarkable spiritual journey he has taken over the past two years.

Photo of the Rev. Ken Wilson by Julia Huttar Bailey. Used with permission.

Photo of the Rev. Ken Wilson by Julia Huttar Bailey. Used with permission.

Does he have any regrets about the sometimes turbulent changes in moving from his former denomination into this entirely new Christian movement called Blue Ocean Faith?

“No regrets at all,” Wilson said in an interview about the release of the book’s second edition. “What I have added to this new second edition clarifies points I made in the original book that raised some questions with readers. And then I tell what’s happened since I first published the book.

“It is true that we all experienced a painful transition—but all of us at Blue Ocean are in a better place now. Sure, I look back and I ask strategically: How could I have managed the change process better? But that’s true of any change process.

“The reward of making church a safe place for sexual minorities makes the church safer for everybody. The reward for achieving that is so great that there’s no question of regret. And part of what I realize now is that I hadn’t even appreciated how many constraints I had been laboring under. I don’t spend a single moment saying I regret making this move.

“The freedom that people experience when they are fully included—that is to die for. That’s such a tangible reward that I want people to know: We can survive all the tomfoolery and pain that the Christian church can sometimes cause its members over these issues.

“What we need to remember is that there are people still coming to faith—and the very LGBT people who have been most targeted by the worst aspects of the church in the 21st century are still hungering for God and they are coming to the church.”

‘YOU CAN’T BE A PILLBUG’

Pillbug safely rolled up (1)What religious leaders are discovering—most recently at the global United Methodist gathering in Portland, Oregon—is that avoiding issues of gender and sexuality is impossible. America has moved dramatically toward acceptance both in terms of public opinion and legal protection—and that is ushering in an era when sexual minorities feel free to publicly express themselves. The question of inclusion vs. exclusion is a core issue of our time.

“That’s why I expanded my book, because this continues to be so important to families everywhere you go,” Wilson said. “You can’t be a pillbug anymore as a member of a faith community. You can’t curl up and live within your small world.

“We are all part of the wider world in irreversible ways. That’s been happening for a long time. With the internet and social media, parts of our lives that we used to whisper about in secret—we now shout from the rooftops. And that truth affects what it’s like to be a person of faith today. This affects the level of certainty we think we have on traditional ideas. We all are working out what the pathway looks like ahead of us. The third way allows us all to come together even as we are still working out what it means to be a church.”

In this difficult time of transition, some critics are chiding church leaders who refuse to move away from traditional teachings of condemnation and exclusion. Wilson said he is well aware of the criticism, including some highly critical voices that say the church is fatally flawed at this point.

“And to that, I say: It’s still a bold confession of faith to say that I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” Wilson said. “And in saying that I’m reminding us all that Christianity is about following Jesus, a Jesus who is active and moving. We believe that he’s out there in the world today—making moves in our world. Our job is to be there with Jesus when he’s making his moves. In Matthew, Jesus summons people and this call is so compelling that they drop their fishing nets and follow him.

“That remains the essential movement of Christianity. Everything else is window dressing compared to that call to follow. We keep moving. And I continue to make my bold confession of faith: I follow Jesus Christ.”

Care to read more?

Check out the second edition of Wilson’s popular and influential book A Letter to My Congregation and his ongoing website Third Way Newsletter. 

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Alvaro Vega aka ‘Communion’: Roman Catholic Hip Hop Seminarian

Communion - headshot A

Alvaro Vega aka Communion

By DAVID CRUMM
ReadTheSpirit Editor

What’s new in the Catholic church? How about this: A Florida-based, Hispanic-American seminarian who is in the process of discerning a vocation to the priesthood—and has so much talent for hip hop music that he is creating new songs to help young people discover the love and power of God.

As a candidate for the priesthood, currently on a sabbatical, he’s known as Alvaro Vega in the Archdiocese of Miami. As a music and video artist, he’s emerging nationally as “Communion,” a stage name he chose to point toward the core sacrament in his church.

Ironically, Vega discovered his vocation to the priesthood in a very traditional way. In 2008, he began reading Thomas à Kempis’s early-15th Century classic, The Imitation of Christ. Like countless Christian converts over the nearly 600 years of the book’s existence, the stark spiritual teachings as described by Thomas à Kempis transfixed him. After finishing the book, Vega said in a profile published by the Miami archdiocese, he was convinced that “God was real, and was with me, and loved me.”

Like Thomas à Kempis many centuries before him, Vega decided to prepare for the priesthood. For two years, Vega left behind his early dreams of a musical career. But, well into seminary, he realized that God could use some hip hop in the church.

MEETING ‘THE BOY MESSIAH’

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Chris Stepien

Most recently, Vega (as Communion) connected with another unusual Catholic media professional—Chris Stepien, who lives in Michigan. Stepien has worked for many years in broadcast TV, audio, video, writing and all-around media production for secular clients. Then, Stepien felt a calling—like Vega—to use his talents to inspire others.

Stepien stresses that he is neither a trained Bible scholar nor theologian. Nevertheless, Stepien set out to painstakingly research a vivid yet mysteriously brief chapter in Jesus’s early life. For many centuries, artists have referred to a brief passage in Luke’s second chapter as: Finding Jesus in the Temple. That particular scene was one of Rembrandt’s favorites among the Gospel stories. In summary: Jesus was 12 and his family went to the temple in Jerusalem at Passover. They headed home afterward; without telling them, Jesus stayed behind to talk with elders around the temple; and it took several days for the frantic family to reunite with their son.

After a long period of research, Stepien wrote Three Days: The Search for the Boy Messiah, a fictionalized account of what might have happened during those several days. The book is intended for Christian readers and has a combined rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from 32 mostly glowing Amazon reviews.

3DAYS-front (1)

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

So, perhaps it was a movement of the Spirit—as Stepien tells the story—for this Midwest Catholic media personality with a book about Jesus’s childhood to connect with the Catholic artist in the Florida seminary using music to try to reach young people.

Stepien wrote the lyrics; Vega agreed to write the music, perform and produce it as a hip hop tune. While hip hop may not be everyone’s favorite form of music—the fact is that media experts say that hip hop is one of the most popular genres of our era.

No question: Once you hear Vega’s performance, it’s hard to forget the lyrics, which include:

So you’re the boy messiah with your bucket at the well.
Do they know what’s deep inside ya?
What it’s like to conquer Hell? …
So you’re the boy messiah
And you’re from a tiny town
Was a Virgin mom that had ya—
Holy Spirit came on down.

Intrigued? Read on … we’ve got the music video below!

Want more?

FIRST, GET THE BOOKS!
Chris Stepien now has two inspirational books you’ll enjoy. First, there is the original Three Days: The Search for the Boy Messiah, which one reviewer describes as “a wonderful interweaving of history and imagination exploring the life of a young Jesus.” Another reviewer puts it this way: “Stepien invites the reader to a rare exploration of the 1st Century life-setting and activities when Jesus actually walked upon the earth.”

Chris Stepien Dying to be Happy (1)

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

Want to know more about Stepien’s own spiritual journey? In the spring of 2016, Beacon Publishing/Dynamic Catholic is releasing his new book, Dying to be Happy—Discovering the Truth about Life. In addition to telling some of his own story, he has gathered a series of short, true stories about people confronting and overcoming a fear of death. The book is structured so that readers could enjoy these stories over a series of days and, in the process, recapture the joy of life and faith.

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CHECK OUT THE MUSIC VIDEO!

Here is the “Communion” version based on Chris Stepien’s lyrics …

 

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World’s largest peaceful gatherings are Hinduism’s sacred fairs called Khumbh Mela

Vista of the Kumbh fair in 2016 (1)

A pilgrim’s view of the sacred river where millions bathe at this year’s Kumbh fair. Photo courtesy of the fair’s website.

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By BHAVYA SRIVASTAVA

Across the Western world, when people think of vast religious gatherings, most are aware of the annual pilgrimages to Mecca and the occasional outdoor services held by the pope that may attract more than a million people. But few Westerners know much about what experts consider the largest peaceful gathering on earth: the Indian Kumbh Mela, a multi-year cycle of pilgrimages on an enormous scale.

Pilgrims enjoy pavilions on a recent night at the fair

On a recent night, pilgrims stroll through pavilions in one corner of the vast Kumbh fair. Photo by Bhavia Srivastava.

How big are these events? Think of the scale of a world’s fair with colorful banners, lights, camps and installations—and then think even bigger. This year’s Kumbh fair is more than 15 square miles!

The words Kumbh Mela literally translate as “the fair of the pot.” Ancient Hindu tradition tells about a great churning of the sea, involving both deities and demons, and about a pot (or kumbh) that appeared filled with amrita, an elixir that confers immortality. Indian stories about this mystical pot describe a journey with the pot in which some droplets of amrita were left in four locations across India. That’s why Kumbh Mela rotates every 12 years among these locations: Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. The sheer magnitude of the pilgrimages to these centers shows the world the power and diversity of Hinduism.

How old is the Kumbh tradition? In the 7th Century, the Chinese traveler Xuanzang returned to his homeland and described a ritual like kumbh at the confluence of two rivers. Hindu scholars say that the esteemed sage Adi Shankaracharya started the kumbh fair at Prayag (also known as Allahabad) in the 8th Century as a gathering of holy people. In addition to establishing this custom, Adi Shankaracharya was a major sacred figure credited with resurrecting and consolidating the Hindu religion.

Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh in India

Location in India: Black shows Ujjain. Salmon shows Madhya Pradesh.

This year, more than $500 million has been spent to make the city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, ready for the fair. The area is divided into six zones, twenty-two sectors, four flag stations, six satellite towns and 51 police stations. There are about 2,000 camps of devotees, noted saints or sadhus, organizations and NGOs. Throughout the April 22 to May 21 (2016) fair, there are multiple occasions for ritual bathing.

So far, more than 4,000 journalists and media professionals from all over the world have gathered in Ujjain to cover Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv. This festival attracts millions of devotees and guests from across the world to meet the saints, attend the bathing rituals in the sacred river Kshipra and enjoy the inspiring messages conveyed in banners, installations, formal programs and individual conversations with other pilgrims.

Kumbh is more than a fair, a religious occasion and a symbol of Hindu tradition. Given the enormous scale of the event and its impact on the lives of millions of Indians, Kumbh shapes the social, cultural, economic and even the governmental life of India.

Hindu devotees at the Kumbh fair

A panorama of some of the colorful devotees who take part in the fair. Photo courtesy of the event website.

Covering a Kumbh fair as a journalist is unlike covering any other religious event around the world. The tens of millions of people who pass through these fairs reflect the vibrant diversity of Hinduism and the broad range of Indian culture.

Journalists who specialize in covering global religious movements find that they cannot ignore this challenging event, said senior journalist and associate editor of Telegraph Rasheed Kidwai. “A visit to the holy bathing place and other areas of the fair is a spirituality fulfilling experience. Seeing the faithful undergoing all hardships of such an event with ease and smiles give insight into the world of faith and dharma.”

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Kumbh for journalists is the presence of holy men often called saints or seers or gurus in English, said Devendra Joshi, one of the officials charged with managing this fair. “Kumbh has a strong presence of religious gurus and their organizations.”

One of the many banners at Kumbh Mela (1)

Photo by Bhavia Srivastava.

Understanding the complex background of these religious movements is a challenge for journalists, Joshi emphasized. Sometimes they are in harmony and, said Joshi, “sometimes they may be feuding with each other.” In the Western world, members of the hundreds of branches of Christianity can appreciate that occasional unity and occasional friction from their own religious history. At Kumbh Mela, nearly all branches of the Indian religious world come together.

While the high-spirited public bathing may appear in Western media reports, much of the fair’s spiritual life is never seen in public. The traditional privacy surrounding many Hindu practices means that, even within a fair of this scope, much is not apparent to outsiders.

Kumbh Mela is more than a public fair—it is a sacred time and place for saints to gather, for organizations to meet, for dialogue about the practice of the faith and for fresh ideas to surface even in this ancient religious faith. One example this year is an emerging “Meditation to Sanitation” campaign that will help to improve public health.

One of the banners at the fair proclaims: A nation needs not just well-defined strategies but also well-refined citizens.

Care to learn more?

Bhavia Srivastava also has written about covering religion in India at the website of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ). To follow religion news recommended by IARJ editors, follow the IARJ’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/RJournalists

Bhavia Srivastava at the Kumbh fair (1)

Bhavia Srivastava.

The fair’s official website is http://www.simhasthujjain.in/ You may also want to look for …

  • Facebook: simhasthujjain2016.
  • Instagram: simhasthujjain2016
  • Twitter: @simhasth

Bhavya Srivastava is a veteran journalist specializing in religion news. For years, he has worked as a news writer and producer for a number of media companies, including the popular Indian network STAR News (now known as ABP News). His academic work includes sociology, political science, media ethics and post-graduate research in film production and electronic media. He is a member of IARJ.

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Language of Our Hearts: The challenge of respecting our ways of speaking

United Methodist General Conference in Portland Oregon May 2016

A session of the United Methodist General Conference, a worldwide legislative gathering of the denomination held once every four hears. The theme in this May 2016 conference is the commission “Therefore Go …”

A first-time delegate to the worldwide General Conference of the United Methodist Church responds to the diversity of voices in a truly global gathering.

By the Rev. MEGAN WALTHER

On our honeymoon, my husband and I got stranded in the Hungarian countryside.

Joel and I were traveling on a local train to visit friends, when the train stopped at a small rail station in a rural area. After sitting at the station for a few minutes, a conductor made an announcement in Hungarian–and suddenly everyone got off the train.

I do not speak Hungarian (neither does Joel), so we were baffled. What was going on?! We were ushered onto the crowded platform with the rest of the travelers. We couldn’t find anyone at the station who spoke our language, and our attempts to use the few Hungarian words we knew were met with confusion.

After half an hour, some of the travelers started getting on buses that had arrived. Others were cramming onto a new, unmarked train that had pulled into the station. Where were the buses going? Where was this new train headed? Could we still make some kind of connection to our original destination?

Without someone who spoke our language it was difficult to know what was happening. Eventually we jumped on a passing train, reached a larger city where someone spoke English, and found our way to our friends’ village. (We later found out that they had started calling train stations across the country asking if anyone had seen two lost Americans.)

It can be challenging to function in a place where your language is not commonly known. And yet many of the delegates to General Conference do this every four years as they take part in the work of the global church. Most of the business of General Conference is conducted in English, but a rich variety of languages are present among us. I have heard delegates speaking in French, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese during the course of General Conference, and that’s just the tip of the linguistic iceberg.

“Slow down, you’re speaking too quickly!” This has become a refrain in my legislative session. Many delegates rely on translation to follow the business of General Conference, and it’s difficult to translate someone speaking speedily and without pause.

Pausing is not a bad idea. James 1:19 reminds us to be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak,” and yet often we are not only quick to make a speech–we are quick in our speech. Communicating well across languages (not to mention cultures) can take a little extra time.

I speak only one language fluently. I’ve learned bits and pieces of various languages over the years, but I am nowhere near being able to hold a conversation, let alone translate anything for anyone else. I am grateful for the talent and knowledge that allows people from around the world to come together in worship and debate.

The presence of so many languages reminds me of the power and vastness of God. I may not understand Hungarian, but God does. I may not speak Kiswahili, but God can. When we gather in worship, it does not matter what language we are using: God comprehends.

At this global conference, we recently sang the hymn Amazing Grace together; we were invited to sing “in the language of our hearts.” It was beautiful to hear the resulting variety of voices.

In the midst of the legislation and debate, the body of Christ is gathered. Praise be to God.

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Humane Society invites our children to care for God’s creation

Humane Society of the United States curriculum for children on caring for animals

CLICK this HUSUS image to visit the group’s webpage that explains the new curriculum that is free for you to use with children in your community.

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Cover of HSUS book Every Living Thing

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

By DAVID CRUMM
ReadTheSpirit Editor

Sweeping across the boundaries between the world’s great religious traditions is a growing concern for the care of all the creatures living on Planet Earth: human and non-human.

As we reported last autumn, Pope Francis is not alone in calling the entire world to a renewed appreciation of compassionate care for the lives all around us. Evangelical Protestant leaders, who historically have not been known for heralding this particular cause, have now come together with a unified message on this same theme: God cares about animals as well as humans and our collective future depends on our taking this spiritual calling seriously.

Then, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) published a book-length overview of teachings about care for living things issued by many major religious groups. The HSUS book is called, Every Living Thing, and this spring that book has been recommended by a noted vegetarian journal.

NEW, in spring 2016: The HSUS is offering free lesson plans to help young children begin to build their own compassionate awareness of God’s world.

The curriculum was developed by the HSUS director of learning programs Stephanie Itle-Clark. Writing to educators in a separate background paper about “Humane Education,” Itle-Clark explains:

Humane education, a form of character education and a partner to social and emotional learning, encourages empathy and compassion for humans, animals, and the environment as well as assesses the intimate connection among the three. Why Implement Humane Education? Humane education makes academic concepts tangible and encourages critical thinking in a way that includes feelings,respect for others, and problem-solving activities.

Interested in learning more?

HSUS has added a special webpage to introduce the new curriculum, complete with an easy-to-view preview of the first lesson. You’ll have to complete a free registration on the website to get the full set of classroom materials.

What’s included? Here’s how HSUS describes these lessons:

The five-lesson curriculum is designed for students in grades K-5 and includes the following lessons:
Animals are Important to God,
Being a Helping Hand for Birds and Wildlife,
Protecting Pollinators,
The Joy of Animals,
The Earth and Animals Belong to God.
Each lesson includes hands-on projects, and the curriculum also includes a list of supplemental resources for the instructor to enrich his or her knowledge and background on the connection between animal protection and faith, as well as on humane education.

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‘Peaceable Table’ recommends ‘Every Living Thing’

Vegetarian_Friends

To read the entire review of “Every Living Thing,” click on this image and then choose “current issue” from among the issues of Peaceable Table offered on this site.

The staff at The Peaceable Table, a vegetarian journal, have published an in-depth review of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) book Every Living Thing. 

The journal describes itself this way:

We are dedicated to providing inspiration and support for Quakers and other people of faith in the practice of love for animals and a vegetarian diet. This journal is a project of the Animal Kinship Commitee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting.

Here is just a short excerpt of what the Peaceable Table review says about this helpful book:

This exceptional work is several things.

It is, first of all, a demonstration of the commitment of the Faith Outreach program of the Humane Society of the United States, and its online library of religious statements on animals, a collection overseen by Karen Allanach.

Secondly, it includes two splendid Forewords, one Evangelical and one Roman Catholic, together with Appendices consisting of essays on animal concerns perspectives of major Christian figures: C.S. Lewis, Hannah More, and William Wilberforce.

Thirdly, it is the go-to place for access to statements on animals by official bodies and leading figures of major U.S. denominations, together with key background information on the group. These various resources, diverse as they are, work together well to present a thought- provoking and often enlightening picture of animals in mainline American religion.

Care to read more?

THIS SPRING, HSUS is also publishing a free set of lessons for children in grades K-5 about compassionate care of the earth. You may enjoy reading this story, which describes the new lesson plans and provides links to get the free educational materials.

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