Cover Story: Celebrate pets with Dr. Seuss (and maybe unite the world)

EXPLORING WITH DR. SEUSS & POPE FRANCIS

th Cover Dr Seuss What Pet Should I GetUNITING THE WORLD …
Sound impossible? Well, look at the almost universal excitement greeting Dr. Seuss’s new book about pets—and the vast crowds who just greeted Pope Francis in South America. Millions of men and women around the world care about animals and the fate of our natural world. Among Americans, many of us consider animals a part of the family. This week, we’re showing you how these powerful connections could help us bring our world a little closer together.

AN INTERFAITH ACTIVIST—Pope Francis is not alone in calling people of faith to protect the species that call Earth our home. In this profile, meet Reasa Currier who works for the Humane Society of the United States in connecting religious leaders from traditions that call them to care for animals. (Hint: Nearly every religion does!)

th Pope-Francis-on-the-cover-of-National-Geographic-magazine-2015-1WHY THE POPE MATTERS—Since the historic publication of his letter about the environment, Pope Francis has received mixed reviews from some politicians and business leaders in the U.S. But he continues to be lionized by most Americans as well as millions in the Southern Hemisphere who understand the urgent problems posed by the environmental dangers we face. If you share Francis’s concern for our planet—please read this column, which is packed with news and information you can discuss with friends.

th New York Times Book Review on Dr Seuss What Pet Should I GetAN ADVENTURE WITH DR. SEUSS—Two decades after Theodor Geisel’s death, his “new book” has Americans excited about setting off on one more adventure with the beloved “Doctor.” Dr. Seuss’s What Pet Should I Get? will be released on Tuesday, but already it’s a best seller. Sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker created the OurValues series to spark widespread discussion on timely issues. So, this week, five OurValues columns will explore Seuss’s pets—and some famous animals embodying our core values.

Start with Part 1Exploring Dr. Seuss and What Pet Should I Get?

INTERFAITH
PEACEMAKERS

Interfaith Peacemakers dot com Summer Music Festival Carrie Newcomer Bruce Cockburn Crosby Stills NashSING! SING! SING!
We’re publishing inspiring stories about music’s world-changing power. The destination: InterfaithPeacemakers.com.

This week, international peacemaker Daniel Buttry, who is based in South Africa at this moment, is continuing his musical series on the theme “Don’t Shoot! (1965-2015)” with music videos from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carrie Newcomer and Bruce Cockburn. Please, share this latest series of videos with friends. Among our recent “New Songs” columns …

FAITH, FILM
& POP CULTURE

Mr Holmes movie still (1)1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of movie reviews.

MR. HOLMESIan McKellan is delightful in this new chapter in the Sherlock Holmes movie canon. Faith-and-film writer Ed McNulty makes Mr. Holmes his Feature of the Week and says: Don’t miss it! Then, more movie reviews to enjoy …

FAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings.

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HOLIDAYS,
FESTIVALS
& FOOD

Don’t miss a holiday! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com our master calendar of festivals, observances and milestones.

Virgin-Mary-Dormition (1)FAST FOR MARY—Christians around the world who follow ancient Orthodox traditions will begin fasting on August 1 and will focus on prayers recalling the Dormition, or the falling asleep of Mary at the end of her life.

ENJOYING ‘FIRST FRUITS’—Millions with English, Irish and Scottish roots, as well as modern Pagans, will celebrate harvest festivals sometimes called Lammas or Lughnasadh. Stephanie Fenton writes about the roots of these traditions and, if you’re wanting to join in the tradition of baking bread this week, she also recommends a book on sacred breads with recipes.

Paprika-peppers-by-Miklos-300x222THE BOUNTY OF SUMMER—FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis is serving up some terrific food columns (and recipes!) this summer. Readers are raving about the sweet-and-tangy kale-and-mango salad Bobbie gave us last week in “Just for the Kale of It.” This week, she explores the heritage of paprika—and gives us a recipe for a simple, flavorful chicken simmered with paprika.

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DOING GOOD
IN THE WORLD

One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …

th Cover Misty Copeland Life_In_Motion (2)SUZY FARBMAN—GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the amazing life and career of ballet star Misty Copeland. Suzy’s column tells Misty’s story of overcoming a chaotic childhood, discovering dance as a teenager—and you’ll also find links to key radio interviews and Misty’s gripping autobiography. In Suzy’s words, this is a “WOW” story.

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This will perform close to his Vermont home on August 5 at the Manchester Community Library. Then, Bob heads to Israel for a three-date tour in his “Laugh in Peace” series. He will perform with his Arab-Muslim comedy colleague Ahmed Ahmed in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa from August 15-17.

Veterans memorial (2)ARE VETERANS HEROES? Journalist and educator Joe Grimm reminds us of an important point largely lost in the controversy over whether John McCain—or any veteran—wants to be called a “hero.” Joe heads up the Michigan State University School of Journalism “Bias Busters” program, which recently completed a nationwide effort to talk with veterans. The MSU group finally published an important new book explaining many issues that veterans wish civilians understood. One of those issues? That “hero” label.

th Third Way Newsletter book logoKEN WILSON—Ken Wilson and his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter are making a big difference in opening up evangelical congregations coast to coast. Interested? You’ll want to read …

Map of New ZealandDR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind also is one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service (RNS). This week, he’s headed around the world to New Zealand to serve as visiting scholar for Victoria University in Wellington—with lectures also in Christchurch, Dunedin, and Auckland.

For religious intellectuals who have advocated same-sex marriage, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s repeated invocation of the word “dignity” in his majority opinion seemed to be a very deliberate reference to religious teaching.

“Dignity, the high value of each individual person, their immeasurable value, their sacred value, is in its roots a Christian value,” said the Rev. David P. Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. “Dignity language is a widely used cognate for the idea that every person is made in God’s image and is sacred for that reason. So what I think Judge Kennedy did was reach to one of the core concepts of our civilization.”

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Cover Story: Hard to talk with your parents? Here’s help!

Let’s talk across generations

th Missy Buchanan with Lucimarian Roberts daughter of Robin Roberts of Good Morning AmericaMEET MISSY BUCHANAN—You may remember her from Good Morning America, when Robin Roberts introduced Missy as the woman who helped her mother Lucimarian write a best-selling autobiography. That memoir was created after Lucimarian personally reached out to Missy because of all the work she has done writing inspirational books about the lives of older Americans. This week, we talk with Missy about her newest book—featuring 20 dialogues between aging parents and their adult children on hot-button issues so many of us have faced. If Missy can help guide your family through just 1 of those issues—you’ll be glad you found her book today.

MEET ‘AGING AMERICA’

th Public domain photo of a happy older man along the shoreOUR VALUES—The OurValues project is designed to spark healthy conversations nationwide and this certainly is a timely issue: As a nation, we’re getting older and we’re facing some truly “disturbing” problems as we add millions of senior citizens each year. But, this week our message is: Don’t be paralyzed by fear. Here’s a fascinating series that looks at the cold hard facts about aging—but also reports some hopeful findings as well. It’s a perfect week to share OurValues with friends.

HOLIDAYS,
FESTIVALS
& FOOD

Don’t miss a holiday! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com our master calendar of festivals, observances and milestones.

Bob-Marley-headshot-laughingCELEBRATING WITH BOB MARLEY—This summer, our readers already have been remembering the peacemaking themes in Bob Marley’s music. Had he lived, Marley would have been 70 this year and, this week, Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Rastafari remembrances of their great musical leader. Thursday is the birthday of Haile Selassie, who gave the Rastafari movement its name and inspiration.

FASTING AT TISHA B’AV—The ancient Jewish tradition of mourning the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem still calls on observant men and women to fast for 25 hours as they remember these events. In modern-day communities, this connection with long-ago tragedy is a spiritual challenge, our story reports.

Mormon-Tabernacle-choirCHEERING PIONEERS IN UTAH! This week is Pioneer Day, one of the biggest and most colorful holidays in the calendar of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and his followers ended a thousand-mile search for a permanent settlement and an escape from religious persecution. In many Mormon communities, especially in Utah, it’s time for parties, parades, rodeos and fireworks.

kale-by-amy-qTHE BOUNTY OF SUMMER—FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis brings us a refreshing seasonal salad as mangos and kale are at their prime. She calls it “Just for the Kale of It.” You’ll learn about the heritage of kale and you’ll find a tasty recipe for “massaged” kale-and-mango salad. Perhaps that’s a cooking technique you’ve never tried? Go on … check it out today—and share it with friends.

FILM, FAITH AND POPULAR CULTURE

th Movie poster from The 100 Year Old Man Who Jumped Out the Window  (deleted 8178b661ba00849fda371ad22c589843)1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of movie reviews.

FAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings.

Singing a new song?

th Guitar from Wikimedia Commons (2)SING ALONG WITH US! Our recent stories about new inspirational music are prompting a chorus of readers to join in song. It’s true: Music can change the world. First, we reported on a Catholic-Jewish song-writing duo giving the world a new song based on Pope Francis’s prayer for creation. Then, we reported on a famous hymn writer whose song for the tragedy in Charleston is spreading around the world.

SHARING ‘A POWERFUL SONG’—The son of our faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty is Scott McNulty, organist at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.  When The New Yorker magazine was looking for a sound clip of Carolyn Gillette’s powerful new hymn, the call went out through musical networks to Scott who enlisted cantor Benjamin Cox from an Austin Catholic church to help produce a quick recording. Their audio now is featured in the New Yorker article about the new hymn. (Look for a Podcast in the middle of the story.) Scott wrote us this week that he and Benjamin were eager to help. “Our hope is that the recording will encourage other congregations to sing this powerful song, and begin or continue to fight for the rights of all people.”

Interfaith Peacemakers Music Festival with John Legend J Cole and Alicia KeysINTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—Global peacemaker Daniel Buttry continues his Summer Music Festival featuring music videos guaranteed to get your toes tapping—and your heart set on acts of kindness and justice. If you’re just joining us, so far …

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …

th Debby Davison 1950 to 2015 Poster created by demachkiedesign comAN INSPIRING LIFE—GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the life of the late KEYT broadcaster Debby Davison, an inspiration to friends and a generous activist for many causes. 

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to travel with his trademark blend of “clean” humor. He’ll be performing close to his Vermont home, soon. If you’re in southern Vermont on Augut 5, you can catch his stand-up act at the Manchester Community Library. Then, Bob heads to Israel for a three-date tour in his “Laugh in Peace” series. He will perform with his Arab-Muslim comedy colleague Ahmed Ahmed in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa from August 15-17.

Ken Wilson of A Letter to My Congregation in the newsKEN WILSON—Ken Wilson and his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter are making a big difference in opening up evangelical congregations coast to coast. Interested? You’ll want to read …

David-Gushee-author Changing Our MindDR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind is becoming one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service (RNS). Are you near Georgia this month? Dr. Gushee will be preaching at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia, on Sunday mornings through the end of July.

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Cover Story: New song lets us pray for hope, action after Charleston church tragedy

Are you singing this new song?

Carolyn Winfrey GillettCOVER STORY—A new song prayerfully joins in the nationwide efforts to find healing, hope and fresh commitment after the tragic shootings in a Charleston church. It’s true: Music can change the world. Last week, we reported on a Catholic-Jewish song-writing duo giving the world a new song based on Pope Francis’s prayer for creation. This week, thanks to readers like you, we are reporting on a famous hymn writer whose song for the tragedy in Charleston is spreading around the world. We’ve talked to musicians who are spreading this new song; and, we’ve got a video and also all the words so you can share it, too.

SING WITH
INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS

Denver Womens Choir sings a song of peaceKEEP SINGING!—Global peacemaker Daniel Buttry is bringing us a Summer Music Festival featuring music videos guaranteed to get your toes tapping. (Warning: These tunes stick in your mind and might inspire you to commit acts of kindness.) This week, Dan serves up videos of musicians around the world celebrating the “Shalom” in all three Abrahamic faiths. Last week, Dan featured “Classic Songs” of peace from Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Bob Marley. You can find all the inspiring stories at Dan’s www.InterfaithPeacemakers.com Please, pass this peace along!

MARRIAGE STORIES OLD & NEW

th visitors to American Gothic houseOUR VALUES—What’s your favorite marriage story? As you’ll discover in today’s Part 1 of the new OurValues series, it’s important that we all discuss what it means to be married. So, this week, OurValues creator Dr. Wayne Baker is welcoming author and counselor Dr. Benjamin Pratt who often writes about the challenges and rewards of marriage. Ben starts by admitting that he’s now had twelve marriages! No kidding!

HOLIDAYS,
FESTIVALS
& FOOD

th Mickey-friends-DisneylandDon’t miss a holiday! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com our master calendar of festivals, observances and milestones.

CELEBRATING WITH DISNEY—Got your Mouse Ears out this week? Millions of Americans are celebrating with the Disney “family” as the original Disneyland reaches its 60th anniversary this week. Our team at ReadTheSpirit already has featured popular stories about Disney, this year. This week, Holidays writer Stephanie Fenton reports on the 60th anniversary.

Bon-Odori-lanternsOBON or ULLAMBANAA festival with Japanese and Buddhist roots, Obon is a time for homecomings, dances, storytelling and decorating household altars. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has the whole colorful story, which spans a month of festivities in many parts of the world. One of the most beautiful traditions? The floating or air-born lanterns as spirits are sent onward.

Muslim chef Amanda Saab‘THE EID’ IS COMING—You’ll enjoy Bobbie Lewis story about Amanda Saab, who is America’s most famous Muslim chef, thanks to her weeks on the TV show Master Chef. Amanda now is back with her family preparing for the worldwide Muslim festival known as Eid-al-Fitr, which ends Ramadan just after July 17 this year, Stephanie Fenton reportsAnd there’s more …

Yemenite Jewish Sabbath bread KubanehA TASTE OF YEMEN—For Jewish families from Yemen, warm kubaneh (Sabbath bread) is a buttery treat from home. Today, headlines from Yemen tell of tragic violence and, after a historic exodus to Israel, few Jews remain in that homeland. This week, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis tells a remarkable story of traditional bread and family customs (and, yes, there’s a recipe).

FILM, FAITH AND POPULAR CULTURE

th Movie still from Al Pachino in Manglehorn1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of movie reviews.

Jim Gaffigan, the popular stand-up comedian known for his Comedy Central special and the books “Dad is Fat” and "Food: A Love Story," will be featured in “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” a new series premiering on TVLand on July 15. Photo courtesy of TVLandFAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings. This week, comedian Jim Gaffigan brings his “dumb Dad” comedy persona to the TVLand network for the much-heralded debut of a new series based loosely on his real life as a standup comedian. (The New York Times just profiled him.) In Ken Chitwood’s column, you’ll love Gaffigan’s utterly honest routine about the conflicting emotions involved in going to his Catholic church. Ken found a wonderful video clip to share!

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …

UCC Antoinette Brown Awards includes RevGalBlogPalsCONGRATULATIONS, REV-GALS!
The Rev. Martha Spong and her Internet friends known collectively as RevGalBlogPals have won the United Church of Christ Antoinette Brown award! (That’s Martha at left in the trio of women in the accompanying photo.) Her online network of columnists, RevGals, was honored as a vital “catalyst” connecting churches with the larger world. Recently, ReadTheSpirit featured this in-depth interview with Martha about her work both online and in the new book by SkyLight Paths, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. In our review of their new book, we write: “We guarantee that you’ll enjoy these inspirational, often downright funny and sometimes emotionally stirring stories. Read one a day for a couple of months.”

th My_Father_s_Love_-_Ed_Lantzer_s_Wood_Mosaic_Murals 2GOD SIGNS—Author Suzy Farbman shares the inspiring story of a most unlikely artist who expressed his faith in vivid murals. Part 1: “Diamonds of wood spark inspiration.” Part 2: “Christian relay team pitches in to help Ed Lantzer fulfill his vision.”

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to criss-cross the nation. Look for a stand-up appearance near you!

Ken Wilson of A Letter to My Congregation in the newsKEN WILSON—Ken Wilson and his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter are making a big difference in opening up evangelical congregations coast to coast. See a recent New York Times story. If you’re interested in this pioneering work, you’ll want to read …

David-Gushee-author Changing Our MindDR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind is becoming one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service. Are you near Georgia this month? Dr. Gushee will be preaching at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia, on Sunday mornings through the end of July.

In news coverage of Americans’ rapidly changing attitudes toward LGBT Christians, Dr. Gushee’s book and his nationwide series of talks this year are often credited with changing hearts and minds.

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Cover Story: How are YOU praying Pope Francis’s prayer for the earth?

th Pope Francis encyclical on the environmentSING ALONG WITH FRANCIS?

That’s how a Franciscan minstrel and a Jewish troubadour are encouraging all of us to pray along with Pope Francis’s powerful new message about the environment. Today, we’ve got the story of this creative interfaith duo—and we’ve got their new music video that you can share with friends. Email us, please, if you’ve got your own creative way to get people praying along with Francis. We welcome your news at ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com

INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS

th God using a compass in creationREDISCOVERING GOD’S COMPASS—Pope Francis is not alone in calling us to care for the earth—including the plants, animals and also the human beings who call our planet “home.” Popular Celtic-Christian writer John Philip Newell weaves together the lives of saints who we would call Interfaith Peacemakers with wisdom from his native Scotland in a new book, The Rebirthing of God. If you haven’t discovered this book—read our review and a brief excerpt from the book today.

Newell’s talent as a spiritual teacher lies in connecting lives around the world. In his new book, he draws on some of the same Interfaith Peacemakers profiled by author Daniel Buttry—including Aung San Suu Kyi, Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi and Simone Weil.

Interfaith Peacemakers Summer Music Festival with Michael Jackson John Lennon and Bob MarleyDaniel Buttry’s www.Interfaith Peacemakers.com is an online treasure trove of stories about men and women who risked their lives for peace. Among the recent stories: Cesar Chavez, Daniel Hunter and Dorothy Day.

NEW for mid-summerButtry launches an online Summer Music Festival, currently featuring music videos from Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Bob Marley.

OUR VALUES

th the Blue Marble Earth from spaceWHAT’S NOT A CORE VALUE? For years, UofM sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker has been studying the 10 core values that unite nearly all Americans—and encouraging a nationwide discussion through his OurValues columns. Today’s question may surprise you: What doesn’t unite us as a core value? (Hint: It involves our home and also says a lot about the importance of Pope Francis’s new letter.)

Today’s new OurValues column—”What’s not a core value?“—is Part 6 in a 10-part tour through the popular Images of America gallery of classic photos. You’ll find links in today’s story to the first 5 parts. This week, we will add:

HOLIDAYS,
FESTIVALS
and seasonal FOOD

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com, our master list of holidays, festivals and anniversaries.

th Michigan-cherry-pie-recipeARE YOU HUNGRY? FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis knows that summer is one long buffet of fresh fruits and vegetables. This week, she tempts us with cherry pie—a big deal in Bobbie’s home state of Michigan. Guest writer Phil Power tells about his family’s long experience with cherries. And, he provides a traditional cherry pie recipe, complete with the option of making the crust with lard for historical purists.

Bon-Odori-lanternsOBON or ULLAMBANAYou may hear about this Japanese-inspired festival, which now circles the globe, by various names. With roots in Buddhism and in the tradition of honoring ancestors, Obon is a time for homecomings, visiting family gravesites, dances, storytelling and decorating household altars. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has the whole colorful story, which spans a month of festivities in many parts of the world. One of the most beautiful traditions? The floating or air-born lanterns as spirits are sent onward.

Ramadan’s spiritual crescendo

Muslim chef Amanda Saab‘THE EID’ IS COMING— Unfortunately, Muslim chef Amanda Saab was knocked off Master Chef last week as the pre-recorded series aired during Ramadan. (You’ll enjoy FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis story about Amanda, who has become America’s most famous Muslim chef, thanks to the TV series.)

This week, many of us are envisioning the feast Amanda is cooking up for the worldwide Muslim festival known as Eid-al-Fitr, which ends Ramadan and take place just after July 17 this year, Stephanie Fenton reports. In the final days of the fasting month, Muslims also celebrate one of the most sacred observances in Islamic tradition—Lailat al-Qadr, which marks the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. Wish your Muslim friends and colleagues “Ramadan Mubarak!” at this one-day festival of Laylat al-Qadr, which commemorates that revelation and often is a time when Muslims spend all night in prayerful reflection.

Care to read more?

FILM, FAITH AND POPULAR CULTURE

th Visual Parables Inside Out and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of movie reviews.

NEW THIS WEEK—Veteran faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty freely shares his reviews, and supports his work by selling the monthly Visual Parables Journal. Each issue is packed with complete study guides to enjoy on your own, with friends—or in your class or small group. Now, the July 2015 issue is available, including study guides for Inside Out, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jurassic World, Manglehornand more.

Jim Gaffigan, the popular stand-up comedian known for his Comedy Central special and the books “Dad is Fat” and "Food: A Love Story," will be featured in “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” a new series premiering on TVLand on July 15. Photo courtesy of TVLandFAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings. This week, if you live in a “Christian household” (especially if you’re Catholic), you’re guaranteed to chuckle at comedian Jim Gaffigan’s utterly honest routine about the conflicting emotions when trying to balance faith with the distractions of everyday life. Ken found a wonderful video clip to share!

 

 

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …

th My_Father_s_Love_-_Ed_Lantzer_s_Wood_Mosaic_Murals 2SUZY FARBMAN & GodSigns—Author Suzy Farbman began sharing the inspiring story of a most unlikely artist who expressed his Christian faith in vivid murals. Part 1: “Diamonds of wood spark inspiration from work of … Ed Lantzer.” New this week is Part 2 of that story: “Christian relay team pitches in to help Ed Lantzer fulfill his vision.”

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to criss-cross the nation. On July 9, he’s appearing at Temple Adas Israel, Long Island’s oldest synagogue.

Ken Wilson of A Letter to My Congregation in the newsKEN WILSON—Pastor and author Ken Wilson (along with his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter) are making a big difference in opening up evangelical congregations coast to coast. Ken was just cited for his work in a New York Times story. The few pioneering churches that have followed Ken’s vision of a “Third Way” include the influential City Church in California. This week, you’ll want to read …

David-Gushee-author Changing Our MindDR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind is becoming one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service. Are you near Georgia this month? Dr. Gushee will be preaching at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia, on Sunday mornings through the end of July.

In news coverage of Americans’ rapidly changing attitudes toward LGBT Christians, Dr. Gushee’s book and his nationwide series of talks this year are often credited with changing hearts and minds.

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Cover Story: Celebrating American Values for the 4th!

Cover Story: Strong Values Unite Us

th Dorrie Miller Above and Beyond the Call of Duty small

Who is this man? Click to read about his heroic life.

WHAT’S YOUR IMAGE OF AMERICA? Whether you are cheering or disagreeing with the landmark Supreme Court rulings, rest assured: Americans are united around 10 core values, which include the very values moving our nation toward opening marriage. One of the 10 values: Ninety percent of Americans strongly support the value of equal treatment under our laws. Sociologist Wayne Baker has a powerful way of showing us how our values unite us as a nation. He starts by showing famous pictures, like this image of a WWII hero. Come along this week for an inspiring tour through Images of America! Part 1 is called “Black Lives Matter.”

th Fourth of July fireworks by Tom Webster of Portland via Wikimedia CommonsENJOY THE HOLIDAY!
What’s your plan for the Fourth? Whatever you’re planning for Independence Day, Stephanie Fenton’s column is packed with ideas and DIY resources that will enrich your holiday.

On the 4th,
how do we remember …

th Tony Yost tombstone at Arlington… OUR VETERANS AND OUR FALLEN? The head of the Michigan State University journalism team that has published a new book to help appreciate our more than 20 million veterans tells Cheyenne’s story, this week. It’s the true story of a daughter honoring her fallen father—by helping to remember his name, share his hard-earned insights and tell his story to the world.

PURSUING PEACE, AS WELL

Interfaith Peacemakers Summer Music Festival with Michael Jackson John Lennon and Bob MarleyIT’S AN AMERICAN VALUE, TOO!
As Americans, research shows that we’re strongly committed to national security. And, we’re very proud of our veterans. But we also yearn for peace and www.Interfaith Peacemakers.com is an online treasure trove of stories about men and women who risked their lives for peace. Among the recent stories: Cesar Chavez, Daniel Hunter and Dorothy Day.

NEW this week—International peacemaker and author Daniel Buttry launches an online Summer Music Festival.

HOW DO WE WELCOME LGBT FRIENDS?

th Third Way Newsletter book logoIT’S A CHURCH-GROWTH ISSUE—There’s no question: Most Americans are welcoming the new definition of marriage and, as a result, millions of LGBT men and women will be more visible as we welcome them in our communities and congregations. It’s also true that thousands of churches do not welcome this change, which means they, in effect, don’t welcome millions of Christians who have LGBT friends and family. Even religious pollsters are issuing this warning. This is, indeed, a major “church growth” issue and is pushing many evangelical churches to explore bridging this chasm. Two authors are in the national vanguard of helping churches become welcoming communities.

Ken Wilson of A Letter to My Congregation in the newsKEN WILSON—Pastor and author Ken Wilson (along with his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter) are making a big difference in opening up evangelical congregations coast to coast. Ken was just cited for his work in a New York Times story. The few pioneering churches that have followed Ken’s vision of a “Third Way” include the influential City Church in California. This week, you’ll want to read …

David-Gushee-author Changing Our MindDR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind spoke in Kansas City to Welcoming and Affirming Baptist on June 28, 2015. Now, Dr. Gushee is becoming one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service. In news coverage of Americans’ rapidly changing attitudes toward LGBT Christians, Dr. Gushee’s book and his nationwide series of talks this year are often credited with changing hearts and minds. As a leading evangelical himself, Dr. Gushee’s work is especially helpful as other conservative Christians struggle with this new reality in American life.

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HOLIDAYS,
FESTIVALS & FOOD:

We’re still wishing, ‘Ramadan Mubarak!’

Muslim chef Amanda SaabDON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com, our master list of holidays, festivals and anniversaries.

TASTES OF RAMADAN—Muslims know that the fasting month of Ramadan also is the month when families and friends gather to break the fast with favorite foods! This week, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis brings us the story of Master Chef contestant Amanda Saab—and one of her delicious recipes.

wpid-0517_thumb_Buddha.jpgALSO, THIS WEEK, IN BUDDHISMColumnist Stephanie Fenton tells us about the Buddhist festival of Asalha Puja or Dhamma Day, which recalls the Buddha first teaching the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

IN JUDAISM, THE THREE WEEKSJewish households traditionally mourn a series of tragedies, including the destruction of two temples in Jerusalem.

FILM, FAITH AND POPULAR CULTURE

th Me and Earl and the Dying Girl1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of faith-and-film reviews by Edward McNulty.

Jim Gaffigan, the popular stand-up comedian known for his Comedy Central special and the books “Dad is Fat” and "Food: A Love Story," will be featured in “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” a new series premiering on TVLand on July 15. Photo courtesy of TVLandFAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings. This week, if you live in a “Christian household” (especially if you’re Catholic), you’re guaranteed to chuckle at comedian Jim Gaffigan’s utterly honest routine about the conflicting emotions when trying to balance faith with the distractions of everyday life. Ken found a wonderful video clip to share!

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …

th My_Father_s_Love_-_Ed_Lantzer_s_Wood_Mosaic_Murals 2SUZY FARBMAN & GodSigns—Today, author Suzy Farbman shares the first part of a story headlined, “Diamonds of wood spark inspiration from work of the often homeless artist Ed Lantzer.” It’s a remarkable story about lives interconnecting to spread awareness of Lantzer’s huge Christian murals.

DEBRA DARVICK—Author Debra Darvick also writes, this week, about the importance of remembering and sharing a community’s most important stories in a column called, “It was called the Spanish house.”

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to criss-cross the nation. On July 9, he’s appearing at Temple Adas Israel, Long Island’s oldest synagogue.

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Cover Story: The Pope Francis environmental encyclical

‘SEISMIC SHIFT’ IN CHRISTIANITY

th Pope Francis speaking to a crowdALL ABOUT FRANCIS’S LETTER—Secular news media zeroed in on political controversy in the remarkable new letter from Pope Francis, completely missing what RNS commentator Jay Michaelson calls “a seismic shift” and “a sea change” in “Western religious thinking on the relationship between human beings and the earth.” It’s such major news that, this week, ReadTheSpirit magazine is doing what we do best: Giving you—quickly, at a glance—important highlights from the encyclical and the best public responses to Francis’s letter.

CHANGING FACE OF AMERICA

th MultiRacial AmericansMULTIRACIAL AMERICANS—This week, sociologist Wayne Baker looks at a major new study about our growing multiracial population. You’ll be surprised by some of these findings.

HOLIDAYS, FESTIVALS & FOOD

July-4-cupcakesDON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com, our master list of holidays, festivals and anniversaries—with links to dozens of fascinating stories you’ll want to share.

WHAT’S YOUR PLAN FOR THE 4TH? Whatever you’re planning for Independence Day, Stephanie Fenton’s column is packed with ideas and DIY resources that will enrich your holiday.

strawberries-by-angel-luz-300x195FEED THE SPIRIT! And, what’s better than fresh strawberries at this time of year!?! FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis tells us the story of America’s love affair with chocolate-dipped strawberries—then she leads readers step by step through the easy process of making them. Come on! Read this one, print it out—or share this column with a friend who loves to cook. Then, you’ll show up at your July 4 celebration with a treat!

ALSO, THIS WEEK, ‘THE FORERUNNER’Stephanie Fenton tells us about one of the oldest Christian celebrations around the world, marking the birth of “The Forerunner,” another term for St. John the Baptist.

And, ‘Ramadan Mubarak!’

th MSU Front cover Muslim hi res1.6 BILLION FASTING—Learn more about your Muslim friends, neighbors and co-workers who are in the midst of the Ramadan fast.

INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS

Interfaith Peacemakers James Lawson Daniel Hunter and George LakeyWANT INSPIRATION? We’ve got hundreds of stories about heroic men and women who risked their lives to foster peace. It’s easy to remember www.InterfaithPeacemakers.com so please tell your friends. (And, yes, you’re free to share these stories with your class or small group.)

Magda-Trocmé-and-survivors-with-their-wartime-photos-are-inserted-at-the-top-of-the-photo-Courtesy-Pierre-SauvageTHE AMAZING LE CHAMBON STORY—Readers tell us they continue to be fascinated by the remarkable courage of the people in a tiny French town who saved thousands during the Holocaust. GodSigns author Suzy Farbman writes about what happened at Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon.

FILM, FAITH AND POPULAR CULTURE

Movie still from Pixar Inside Out1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of faith-and-film reviews by Edward McNulty.

FAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings.

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

Good media builds healthy communities …

MEET THE VETS EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT—The Michigan State University veterans project is far bigger than a single new book: th MSU 100 Q&A Veterans Large Book100 Questions and Answers About Veterans. Read our first story about the project; and see some videos included in the book; and enjoy our story about “The Hat”—the baseball cap worn by an ever-shrinking number of WWII veterans.

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to criss-cross the nation. On June 23, he’s performing this month at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.

THIRD-WAY NEWSLETTER

A MAJOR CONVERSATION—Ken Wilson and the Third Way Newsletter team welcome the major review of Ken’s book A Letter to My Congregation by Tim Keller, an influential “pastor of pastors,” as Ken puts it in his response to Keller’s piece. And, yes, Ken’s column includes a link to read Tim’s original article, as well. (The www.ThirdWayNewsletter.com is part of the changing Christian landscape that is welcoming diverse men and women.)

DR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind spoke at the Atlanta Reformation Project Conference this past week and we’ve got a video link to his latest talk. Conference leaders posted this clip on YouTube with a running time of three hours. If you just want to hear Dr. Gushee, he starts at the 2-hour mark. ALSO—Dr. Gushee will be the dinner speaker for the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists conference n Overland, Kansas, on June 28th.

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Celebrating Innovators and Innovations (and “Ramadan mubarak!”)

COVER STORY: Join a long line of innovators

th Man carrying Bob Alper's bookCELEBRATING CREATIVITY—In this week’s special issue of ReadTheSpirit magazine, we’ve invited writers to tell us about creative ideas that are improving our world. First up, media expert Martin Davis writes about a big surprise in his own life—the innovation of the printed book! Wow, he says, that book idea still turns heads!

PIONEER LES PAUL’S 100th! Musical pioneer Les Paul died a few years ago, but GodSigns author Suzy Farbman writes a tribute to this genius who refused to let even a near-fatal car accident crush his creativity. Before his death, Les said innovation was a part of his healing process: “As I got better … I had newer ideas.” June is the 100th anniversary of his birth as Lester Polfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

th Just for Today John XXIII by Bimba Landmann for EerdmansTRANSFORMING THE “CHILDREN’S BOOK”—For years, the secret behind great children’s books is that parents love them as much as their kids. Now, there’s more freedom to blend text and illustration aimed at all ages. That’s what you’ll discover in two new remarkable picture books: one about the great Native American leader Red Cloud and the other an inspiring gift from the spiritual life of St. John XIII.

JOHN WATERS—NPR says moviemaker John Waters gave one of the best graduation speeches this year—all about the need to keep innovating! If you dare, we’ve got a short video clip of Waters’ now-viral talk to students. You’ve gotta love a guy who says the key to innovation is: “Read! Read! Read! Be nosy!”

A basket of herbsHEALING HERBS—We’ve all heard, “Nothing is new under the sun!” And that’s true of fresh perspectives on the growing use of healing herbs. Among our stories on innovation, this week, FeedTheSpirit’s Bobbie Lewis brings us this delicious column from a 21-year-old student at Antioch College who is a resident dryer of herbs.

5 Myths
about Africa

th OurValues Anthony England No Ebola Africa mapOUR VALUES—Thousands of readers have helped to shape one of our greatest innovations: The OurValues Project, founded by University of Michigan sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker. This daily column proves that civil dialogue is possible, even on tough topics. This week, Dr. Baker introduces the young writer Sarah Fowlkes, who returns from Africa with a series you’ll want to share with friends: 5 Myths about Africa.

HOLIDAYS: ‘Ramadan Mubarak!’

th MSU Front cover Muslim hi resWORLD’S BIGGEST HOLIDAY? More than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world will start the fasting month of Ramadan this week.

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Tell friends about www.InterfaithHolidays.com

INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS

Interfaith Peacemakers Abraham Joshua Heschel Thomas Merton and Cesar ChavezINTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—International peacemaker Daniel Buttry looks at three heroes who shaped our values as Americans.

FILM, FAITH AND POPULAR CULTURE

th George Burns in a still from the movie Oh God1,200 MOVIESwww.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of faith-and-film reviews by Edward McNulty.

FAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of www.FaithGoesPop.com columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings.

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

Good media builds healthy communities …

FAIR FOOD NETWORK—Have you heard about this idea to help low-income families afford more locally grown produce? FeedTheSpirit explains the origins of this program. And, of course there’s a recipe!

MEET THE VETS EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT—The Michigan State University veterans project is far bigger than a single new book: th MSU 100 Q&A Veterans Large Book100 Questions and Answers About Veterans. Read our first story about the project; and see some videos included in the book; and enjoy our story about “The Hat”—the baseball cap worn by an ever-shrinking number of WWII veterans.

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to criss-cross the nation. On June 17, he’s performing in Proctor, VT. Then, on June 23, he’s performing this month at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.

THIRD-WAY NEWSLETTER

A MAJOR NEW REVIEW—Ken Wilson and the Third Way Newsletter team are celebrating a major review of Ken’s book A Letter to My Congregation. The new piece was written by Tim Keller, an influential “pastor of pastors,” as Ken puts it in his response to Keller’s piece. And, yes, Ken’s column includes a link to read Tim’s original article, as well. (The www.ThirdWayNewsletter.com is part of the changing Christian landscape that is welcoming diverse men and women.)

DR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind spoke at the Atlanta Reformation Project Conference this past week and we’ve got a video link to his latest talk. Conference leaders posted this clip on YouTube with a running time of three hours. If you just want to hear Dr. Gushee, he starts at the 2-hour mark. ALSO—Dr. Gushee will be the dinner speaker for the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists conference n Overland, Kansas, on June 28th.

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