July 4 Cover Story: Freedom means—we all should be free

MEET NATHAN ALBERT

perf5.500x8.500.indd‘EMBRACING LOVE’—First, a personal note: Thanks to all of our readers who responded so warmly to our story last week about David Gushee’s impassioned new call for inclusion in the wake of the Orlando tragedy. (We read all of your heart-felt notes to us; you encourage us in our work.)

This week, meet Nathan Albert, a former actor and current pastoral activist who has just published his memoir, Embracing Love: My Journey to Hugging a Man in his Underwear. Wondering about that odd subtitle? Well, meet Nathan Albert in our Cover Story.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

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July-4-food (1)4th of JULY

GET READY! It’s not too early to plan for the big weekend. Stephanie’s column is packed with intriguing ideas, including a website with fun polls and quizzes about our nation’s early history.

FEED THE SPIRITWe recall the 4th of July celebration of citizenship many years ago by Joe LewisFeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis’s husband. Joe himself relates the story and shares a yummy recipe for baked beans, as well!

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RAMADAN ENDS

Eid-Badshahi-Mosque (1)EID AL-FITR—Spelling vary and so do the exact dates of observance, but most Muslim sources are calling for the huge festival to begin July 6 this year. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has the whole story, plus lots of fascinating links to news stories about the celebration.

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FAMILY MILESTONE IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

From left Anessa Sam Max and David Kramer (2)GOD SIGNS—Suzy Farbman writes this week about a family of descendants of Holocaust survivors who are celebrating their latest bar mitzvah. This truly is a family milestone in celebrating religious freedom.

 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.orgAmong Ed’s latest movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: ‘None of us can walk away.’

RENEWING OUR COMMITMENT

th-Changing-Our-Mind-cover-with-author-David-P-GusheeCOVER STORY—Dr. David Gushee, one of our nation’s leading Christian ethicists, returns this week as our nation reflects on the one-year anniversary of the Charleston church shootings—and on the tragic legacy of the shootings in Orlando. A busy scholar whose time is needed by organizations nationwide, Gushee tells us why nothing—not even a busy life—can sway us from a commitment to compassion and social justice.

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MEDIA TRANSFORMATION:
‘PAPERS’ TUMBLE
(BUT PAPER RISES?)

Rodney Curtis in PanamaSTAY TUNED! Our team at ReadTheSpirit is committed to sharing the latest news about the transformation of American media—because our writers, editors and publishers are on the creative Front Edge of that change. As summer 2016 begins, a number of new studies are charting the scope of this historic change. One major report by Pew concludes that newspapers “are looking shakier than ever.” Print advertising revenue, the life’s blood of newspapers, continues to drop at an alarming rate. And, since this decline began, Pew says 20,000 newspaper journalists have lost their jobs!  (And that’s ironic, because another major report on book publishing says that Americans are returning from their e-readers to a preference for paper books! Stay tuned for more on that news in coming weeks.) Today, our intrepid columnist Rodney Curtis—who walked away from newspapers a while ago—writes about his Seven-Year Itch.

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PICTURES OF HOPE

GOD SIGNSGodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman also has an inspiring story this week about the power of media to give voice to Americans who are often voiceless and invisible.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

Midsummer-girls-flowers (1)MIDSUMMER / SOLSTICE

THE LONGEST DAY—It’s relatively early this year on Monday June 20, reports Holidays expert Stephanie Fenton. Learn about festivities around the world. And Stephanie also has links to help you with flower crowns, timely recipes and even drying herbs.

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July-4-food (1)4th of JULY

GET READY! It’s not too early to plan for the big weekend. Stephanie’s column is packed with intriguing ideas, including a website with fun polls and quizzes about our nation’s early history.

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

Movie still Sin Nombre (2)LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org

PECHA KUCHA—Recently, Ed presented a PechaKucha (a popular multi-media lecture format that began in Japan) to a crowd in Dayton, called “6 Social Justice Films for Your Bucket List.” Now, you can see a video of the presentation along with a column by Ed explaining the event.

Among Ed’s other recent movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Happy Father’s Day! (and PechaKucha too)

Honoring  father … just as he was

Benjamin Pratts father in his 20s (1)COVER STORYBenjamin Pratt returns this week with a column that will touch many of us as we reflect on our fathers this week. Are you finding yourself wanting to adjust your memories of your father just a little bit? It’s a natural desire, writes Pratt, a veteran counselor and author of books about caregiving and spiritual wellbeing. Perhaps if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to honor our fathers—honestly.

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Social Justice Films—Pecha-Kucha Style

Movie still Sin Nombre (2)‘MUST SEE’ MOVIESRecently, Visual Parables film critic Edward McNulty presented a PechaKucha for an audience in Dayton, Ohio. His chosen theme was social-justice films that should be on your Bucket List. What is “PechaKucha”? It’s a presentation format in which 20 images are shown, each for 20 seconds. The format was devised to force rambling speakers to be more concise. See what Ed said in his 400 seconds.

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An unlikely artist’s vision lives on

Visitors with Ed Lantzer muralGOD SIGNS—Suzy Farbman brings us an update this week on the legacy of the late “outsider” artist Ed Lantzer. Sometimes homeless and largely ignored as an artist, his life’s work in wood mosaics—all images from the Bible—have a whole new life thanks to supporters who see a great depth in his huge panels. Friends and followers now are drawing interest from young and old.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

Juneteenth celebrants singing (1)JUNETEENTH—Now, the holiday marking the end of slavery in the U.S. is officially known as Juneteenth Independence Day. The holiday began in Texas, where U.S. military finally enforced the Emancipation Proclamation months after the end of the war. Today, the holiday has spread nationwide.

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Fathers Day photo of father and son with cars (1)PLAN NOW FOR FATHER’S DAY! Read Stephanie Fenton’s column on the holiday and you’ll find the roots of this century-old observance began in church—following the model of Mother’s Day, which also began in church. 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

VP_Update_-_david_crumm_gmail_com_-_Gmail (1)LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.orgThe one service Ed sells, to support his work, is the monthly Visual Parables Journal, packed with complete study guides for your individual enjoyment—or use in small groups. We’ve just added the June issue. 

Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Of division—and surprising unity!

MUCH DIVIDES US …
… MORE UNITES US

United-America-update-book-120x180COVER STORY—Ever since Dr. Wayne Baker published United America, detailing 10 core values shared by Americans, we need to keep reminding ourselves what his research shows us: Unity is possible! In 2016, voices of division are louder than ever—and tragic incidents of violence break out every day.

This week, we ask readers to consider two very personal columns. Both of these stories are asking: Can we talk about our divisions? And, where are signs of unity emerging around us every day?

Bullet holes (2)First, author and columnist Rodney Curtis writes about the unending cycle of gun violence in America. Dangerous conflicts are real; but solutions seem elusive. Rodney simply shares from his heart about his family’s brushes with gun violence—and calls all of us to renewed discussion about solutions. However you feel about guns and regulation of gun ownership, read Rodney’s call to a fresh discussion. Whatever your point of view, conversation is possible.

Julia and Erik Baker wedding in Georgia (1)Second, Editor David Crumm writes about the inspiration of a wedding that involved several of the staff members at our publishing house. Ironically, the wedding took place in tiny, historic Senoia, Georgia—the home of the AMC hit series Walking Dead. This personal column reminds us that, in the midst of anxiety, anger and violence, we need to celebrate the inspiring signs of unity unfolding all around us.

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Detroit_radio_pioneer_Elizabeth_Weiss__‘woman_of_1_000_voices_’_dies_at_90 (1)

GENERATION
TO
GENERATION

GODSIGNS—When the “Woman of 1,000 Voices” died, her family focused on the memories they would carry of this amazing “grandma” who had such a vibrant career as a performer. How would this woman be remembered? Through stories, of course. Then, her granddaughter happened to examine a drawing hanging on a wall and … that’s the GodSign in this week’s column from Suzy Farbman.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

Ruth-gleaning (1)ANCIENT HARVEST FESTIVAL—Jewish communities around the world mark Shavuot, an ancient tradition marking a grain harvest in Israel. More importantly, Shavuot marks the occasion where a wandering tribe became a nation governed by God’s commandments. FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis writes about the holiday—and includes a recipe for broccoli-cheese salad.

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Juneteenth celebrants singing (1)JUNETEENTH—Now, the holiday marking the end of slavery in the U.S. is officially known as Juneteenth Independence Day. The holiday began in Texas, where U.S. military finally enforced the Emancipation Proclamation months after the end of the war. Today, the holiday has spread nationwide.

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Fathers Day photo of father and son with cars (1)PLAN NOW FOR FATHER’S DAY! Read Stephanie Fenton’s column on the holiday and you’ll find the roots of this century-old observance began in church—following the model of Mother’s Day, which also began in church. 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Ramadan is coming! And inspiring news from Michigan!

RAMADAN IS COMING …

three-dates for breaking the fast in Ramadan (1)FASTING & REFLECTIONNearly one quarter of Earth’s population is called to a month of fasting, starting on or around Monday June 6. This season of self-denial, spiritual reflection and study of the Quran is an enormous challenge for the faithful this year—because the lunar cycles have moved the holy month squarely into the longest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Among the most beloved tastes during Ramadan are dried dates—often the first bites when the sun finally sets and evening festivities begin with family and friends.

… AND INSPIRING NEWS!

Authors of ACCESS to School from left Nahed Alkashbari Amanda Morgan Anisa Sahoubah and Breanne Wainright (1)ACCESS to SCHOOL—National news from Michigan, this week: We’re proud to report on the launch of a new book about a talented team of educators from the Arab-American nonprofit ACCESS who are jump-starting the education of recent immigrants in a low-income Detroit neighborhood. Our story today explains why this news touches on our hotly debated attitudes toward immigration, this year, and on a centuries-old heritage of cross-cultural education.

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AMERICAN DREAMS
& GLOBAL CULTURE

Punit Patel (2)GOD SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the long journey of Punit Patel, who grew up in an Indian family based in Kenya. Breaking out of his own family’s expectations for his life, he migrated to the U.S. and now is contributing to global diversity in American design.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Do you know the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.? As our column by Stephanie Fenton points out, the official history keeps evolving with competing claims. We also remind readers not to miss the May 29 national concert; we’ve got a link to the concert website and details of the stars appearing this year.

Cheese blintzes for Shavuot (1)

ANCIENT HARVEST FESTIVAL—Jewish communities around the world mark Shavuot later this week, an ancient tradition marking a grain harvest in Israel. But there’s a lot more to Shavuot than that. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports, and provides helpful links for tasty Shavuot recipes.

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Vernors ad with the mascot Woody (1)VERNORS at 150!

FEED THE SPIRIT—Columnist Bobbie Lewis is based in Michigan, so she’s perfectly poised to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that distinctively oak-aged ginger ale known as Vernors. Well, she explains, it’s at least the 150th birthday according to company lore (which includes the bearded gnome Woody). As always, Bobbie also serves up a delicious recipe—in this case Vernors chicken, perfect for a summer picnic!

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Religious game changers

EVANGELICAL PROPHET OF LGBT INCLUSION

Ken Wilson of A Letter to My Congregation in the newsSAY WHAT!?!
Other “Evangelicals” may decline to call the Rev. Ken Wilson a proper member of their flock, these days. But, he has always been—and continues to be—a true follower of Jesus with a deep evangelical view of scripture and ministry. This week, Ken is publishing the 2nd Edition of his hugely influential book, A Letter to My Congregation. In this new and expanded version of his book, he further clarifies his call for full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians—and he introduces his role in a new religious movement called: Blue Ocean. If you care about inclusion—you’ll want to read this story.

ROMAN CATHOLIC HIP HOP SEMINARIAN

communion_hip_hop_i_believe_jesus_frees_us_-_Google_SearchSAY WHAT!?!
No kidding! If all goes well with his process of discernment at a Florida seminary, Alvaro Vega will become a priest—with a unique ministry: hip-hop hymns. Well, Vega doesn’t officially call them hymns when he loads them up on YouTube and other popular music platforms. But, for all practical purposes, he writes and performs inspiring and spiritually evocative songs that invite you to sing along after just a single hearing. Among his most popular tunes so far? Smile! God loves ya my child! Now, Vega is teaming up with author Chris Stepien for a special hip hop number about the boyhood of Jesus.

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MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

Vernors ad with the mascot Woody (1)VERNORS at 150!

FEED THE SPIRIT—Columnist Bobbie Lewis is based in Michigan, so she’s perfectly poised to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that distinctively oak-aged ginger ale known as Vernors. Well, she explains, it’s at least the 150th birthday according to company lore (which includes the bearded gnome Woody). As always, Bobbie also serves up a delicious recipe—in this case Vernors chicken, perfect for a summer picnic!

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WINNING IN GOLF—AND CANCER

Suzy Farbman with friends and cash (1)GOD SIGNS—You can’t read a Suzy Farbman column and not feel a little better by the end of her story. And, this week, as spring brings millions of Americans out onto the golf course—she has a real-life story about an unexpected win in a golf tournament … but, more importantly, a win against cancer.

 

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

.National Memorial Day Concert th

MEMORIAL DAY—Do you know the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.? As our column by Stephanie Fenton points out, the official history keeps evolving with competing claims. We also remind readers not to miss the May 29 national concert; we’ve got a link to the concert website and details of the stars appearing this year.

 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Global spiritual creativity celebrating our diversity

IN OUR DIFFERENCES: ARE WE FRIENDS OR ENEMIES?
Hindu devotees at the Kumbh fair (1)

GLOBAL CREATIVITY—The defining question of our era is this: As our global cultural diversity surfaces with all of its sound and color and self expression, will we become friends or enemies?
This weekReadTheSpirit magazine features stories celebrating some remarkable signs of spiritual creativity. We start with Indian journalist Bhavia Srivastava’s coverage of the world’s largest peaceful gathering—the latest in the cycle of Kumbh Mela festivals.

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Home_-_The_Interfaith_ObserverTHE INTERFAITH OBSERVER—Next, we recommend to readers who care about interfaith cooperation: Please check out the latest issue of the long-running monthly newsletter The Interfaith ObserverIn particular, we recommend a profile (prepared by Katherine Marshall of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs) of the catalytic figure: Bud Heckman. Behind the scenes, Heckman has done more to connect interfaith organizations than anyone else in the U.S.

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prayer-politiks-logo-1xRETHINKING ‘JUST WAR’—We also recommend a column by author and long-time peace activist Ken Sehested analyzing the recent Vatican milestone: a global conference on rethinking the traditional “just war” rationale. Ken writes: “What sets this particular conference apart was its urging the world’s largest unified-leadership religious body—within Vatican walls and with the assent of one Vatican agency—to no longer use or teach just war theory.

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United Methodist General Conference in Portland Oregon May 2016 thTHE LANGUAGE OF OUR HEARTS—Among media colleagues around the world, one of the most common issues arising in 2016 is: language. English is a common mode of communication around our planet—but we rarely pause to ponder the wondrous beauty of the world’s diverse tongues. A clergy delegate to the worldwide United Methodist General Conference, now meeting in Oregon, reflects on this challenge.

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Burton and Suzy Farbman at the 40th event (1)40 YEARS OF DEVELOPMENTGodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman shares a personal story this week about an event to celebrate 40 years of her family’s collective efforts to develop sites around southeast Michigan.

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A stroll through Dearborn Fresh in Dearborn Michigan (1)TASTE DIVERSITYBobbie Lewis, our FeedTheSpirit columnist, invites us all to stroll with her through one of America’s great centers of Arab-American cuisine: Dearborn, Michigan. Bobbie and her husband signed up for a special walking—and tasting—tour of the ever-expanding Dearborn food scene. And, she also shares a delightful recipe for a savory, vegetarian stew.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

.National Memorial Day Concert th

MEMORIAL DAY—Do you know the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.? As our column by Stephanie Fenton points out, the official history keeps evolving with competing claims. We also remind readers not to miss the May 29 national concert; we’ve got a link to the concert website and details of the stars appearing this year.

 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

Francofonia (1)LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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