Cover Story: Black History, Chinese New Year (and Lincoln too)

A New Way to Mark Black History Month …

100 Questions and Answers about African Americans copyCONFRONTING RACISM WITH … INFORMATION—The highly respected Bias Busters team at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is marking this year’s Black History Month by adding a new cross-cultural guide to the growing series. These short books now are used widely in professional training programs, cultural-sensitivity seminars—and many other settings where people are trying to build healthier communities. MSU’s Joe Grimm has the story of how—and why—this unusual new book was created. And if you’re impressed with this new book, you’ll want to see the whole array of cross-cultural books the MSU team has produced. You’ll find them all displayed in our bookstore.

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HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.

th Groundhog-on-groundCANDLEMAS, IMBOLC …

AND THE RISING GROUNDHOG—Ancient cultures affirm it: Spring is just around the corner! In the depths of North American winter, that may seem ridiculous—but the ancients looked for signs of new life. In addition to writing about Imbolc and Groundhog Day, Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton also writes about a nearly 2,000-year-old Christian festival marking a milestone in the early life of the infant Jesus.

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2016 02 08 Chinese New Year of the Monkey (2)CHINESE NEW YEAR

THE YEAR OF THE MONKEYStephanie Fenton has the story behind this enormous annual festival that now circles the globe. She explains the symbol of the monkey—and also the epic scale of this annual homecoming. The travel period surrounding the New Year now is regularly described as “the world’s largest human migration.”

TEAM TIME? One way Americans commonly salute Chinese culture involves … tea. Yes, we’re a nation with a serious coffee addiction (the U.S. ranks 69th among nations around the world in per capita tea consumption). But Bobbie Lewis in FeedTheSpirit offers this homage to the wonders of tea—and adds a delicious scone recipe!.

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Ash-Wednesday-woman-ashes (1)ASH WEDNESDAY

LENTEN JOURNEY TO EASTER—Speaking of epic religious movements … a third of the world’s population identifies as Christian and the majority of those follow the Western tradition that begins the Lenten period with Ash Wednesday on February 10 this year. Stephanie Fenton has that story in our Holidays column. Looking for inspirational reading during this 40-day period? We also recommend Our Lent: Things We Carry by ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN

President Lincoln From Log Cabin to White House by Demi (2)INTRODUCE CHILDREN YOU LOVE TO “ABE”—Did you know that what is today Black History Month began in 1926 and falls, each year, in February because African-American leaders in the 1920s wanted to honor Frederick Douglass (whose birthday is February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday is February 12)? To emphasize that historic connection, the creative minds at Wisdom Tales publishing house just released a colorful new book for children about Lincoln’s legacy. Lincoln scholar and frequent ReadTheSpirit contributor Duncan Newcomer reviews the new book.

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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 …

Diana Butler Bass

Diana Butler Bass GroundedGET ‘GROUNDED’—In her new book, and in her preaching coast to coast in 2016, Diana takes seriously the classic Wesleyan proclamation: “The world is our parish.” Long-time readers of this historian and congregational consultant may be surprised to open the cover of Grounded. It’s a powerful new blend of prose and personal reflection, moving from scholarly observation—to active participation in finding spiritual awakenings in everyday life. You’ll enjoy our nterview with Diana.

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Suzy Farbman

A beach front event at the Hermitage Artist Retreat copy
SUZY FARBMAN’S ‘GOD SIGNS’—Each week, GodSigns author Suzy Farbman brings us inspiring stories of men and women who demonstrate the huge potential life—if we open our eyes to new possibilities. This week she tells the story of Bruce Rodgers, who took on a run-down beach-side collection of huts and turned it into the prestigious Hermitage Artist Retreat.

 

 

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inspiring as well!

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Cover Story: Diana Butler Bass on ‘Grounded,’ a ‘Spiritual Revolution’

‘Finding God in the World’ 

Diana Butler Bass GroundedCOVER STORY—In her new book, and in her preaching coast to coast in 2016, Diana takes seriously the classic Wesleyan proclamation: “The world is our parish.” Long-time readers of this historian and congregational consultant may be surprised to open the cover of Grounded. It’s a powerful new blend of prose and personal reflection, moving from scholarly observation—to active participation in finding spiritual awakenings in everyday life. And the book intentionally starts close to our homes by exploring deep truths in the soil and the water around us. Please, enjoy this interview with Diana by ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.

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HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.

TU B’SHVAT

Eden-Gardens-seedling (1)NEW YEAR OF THE TREES—If you’re interested in connecting the spiritual and natural worlds, then you’ll be fascinated by the Jewish festival of TuB’shvat, also known as the new year of the trees. Stephanie Fenton explains the tradition.

URBAN FARMING (AND KALE SALAD)—Our FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis also digs into this week’s major theme—with an inspiring story about urban farming in Detroit. Recently, NYTimes headlines have been chronicling poverty in the troubled Motor City, so you may welcome this column about new life in the old city. And, of course, Bobbie shares a recipe: a kale salad with apples, walnut and sumac.

 

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE

Candles for Holocaust remembrance.

INTERNATIONAL OBSERVANCE—Although Israel and Jewish communities worldwide will mark Yom Hashoah this year in May, the United Nations annual observance of an international day of remembrance continues to spread a decade after it was declared by the UN. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on this year’s theme—and fascinating news about the world’s “oldest man.”

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CANDLEMAS, IMBOLC …

th Groundhog-on-groundAND THE RISING GROUNDHOG—Ancient cultures affirm it: Spring is just around the corner! In the depths of North American winter, that may seem ridiculous—but the ancients looked for signs of new life. In addition to writing about Imbolc and Groundhog Day, Stephanie Fenton also writes about a nearly 2,000-year-old Christian festival marking a milestone in the early life of the infant Jesus.

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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 …

NANCY AND BILL BARKER 2014 (1)SUZY FARBMAN’S ‘GOD SIGNS’—Each week, GodSigns author Suzy Farbman brings us inspiring stories of men and women who demonstrate the huge potential life—if we open our eyes to new possibilities. This week, you’ll meet Nancy and Bill Barker who blended their families—even as Nancy continued her work on behalf of women around the world.

TRAVEL TO PANAMA WITH RODNEY—Author and photographer Rodney Curtis features a series of remarkable photographs from his recent journey to Panama.

HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry. Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students.

REDISCOVER HOPE—Daniel Buttry’s inspiring new book We Are the Socks is full of true stories about men and women who risked pursuing peace in the face of enormous challenges. Read about Dan’s adventure in writing this book. And, in a short video, Dan tells the surprising story behind the title.

INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—You’ll enjoy more than 100 stories of men and women who dared to cross boundaries in Buttry’s main website: InterfaithPeacemakers

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inspiring as well!

FIRST ISSUE OF 2016—For complete study guides to many popular movies, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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Cover Story: How is Dr. King inspiring you this week?

MAKE KING’S LEGACY MEANINGFUL …

th Martin-Luther-King-Jr (1)ARE YOU READY TO HONOR DR. KING? Jim Wallis’s new book on racism in America is scheduled to release in conjunction with Dr. King’s birthday this year. Of course, ReadTheSpirit has a rich array of King resources, starting with …

THE HOLIDAY—Stephanie Fenton reports on the national holiday, which was signed into law in 1983 but wasn’t celebrated in all 50 states until 2000. And there’s much more to enjoy here …

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DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.

week of prayer for christian unity (1)PRAYER FOR UNITY

CENTURY-OLD TRADITION—For more than a century, Christians have been urged to spend a week praying for unity in their deeply divided worldwide faith. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the custom—and points out some helpful web links for the occasion.

TU B’SHVAT

NEW YEAR OF THE TREES—Plan ahead if you care to take part in this Jewish observance: the new year of the trees. Stephanie Fenton explains the tradition.

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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 …

Rodney Curtis in PanamaRODNEY CURTIS

TRAVEL TO PANAMA WITH RODNEY—The latest column from author and photographer Rodney Curtis features a series of remarkable photographs from his recent journey to Panama. Come on, it’s well worth a moment to view these images. As Arctic winds throw much of the U.S. into the deep freeze, this little adventure will make you smile … warmly.

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Emma wallpaper design (2)DEBRA DARVICK

ART AND FAMILY—Know what the image is with this news item? It’s a new wallpaper design. And, author and columnist Debra Darvick uses this design’s debut to reflect on her family—because her daughter Emma is the creator of this new line, which is mentioned in Vogue.

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apples in a basket for Mabon the pagan equinox holiday (1)FEED THE SPIRIT

AN APPLE RENAISSANCE? Bobbie Lewis, our FeedTheSpirit columnist, writes about the bumper crop of new apple varieties that seem to be gracing our markets. And, she includes a yummy recipe for apple muffins!

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Amazon_com__Michigan_State_School_of_Journalism__Books__Biography__Blog__Audiobooks__KindleCONFRONT BIGOTRY

HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry. Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students.

REDISCOVER HOPE—Daniel Buttry’s inspiring new book We Are the Socks is full of true stories about men and women who risked pursuing peace in the face of enormous challenges. Read about Dan’s adventure in writing this book. And, in a short video, Dan tells the surprising story behind the title.

INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—You’ll enjoy more than 100 stories of men and women who dared to cross boundaries in Buttry’s main website: InterfaithPeacemakers

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

GREAT GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inspiring as well!

th January 2016 issue of Visual Parables Journal by Ed McNultyFIRST ISSUE OF 2016—For complete study guides to many popular movies, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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Cover Story: Urgent plea from Jim Wallis on ‘America’s Original Sin’

Sojourners Jim Wallis author of Americas Original SinJIM WALLIS …

WHY RACISM IS OUR ORIGINAL SIN—In our first major author interview of 2016, ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm talks to Sojourners‘ Jim Wallis about an urgent new book he is publishing this month—America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America. And, yes, there is hope and practical wisdom within these pages! Order the book now from Amazon and it will arrive on the release date of January 19.

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MAKE KING’S DAY MEANINGFUL …

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.

th Martin-Luther-King-Jr (1)ARE YOU READY TO HONOR DR. KING? Jim Wallis’s new book on racism in America is scheduled to release in conjunction with Dr. King’s birthday this year. Of course, ReadTheSpirit has a rich array of King resources, starting with …

THE HOLIDAY—Stephanie Fenton reports on the national holiday, which was signed into law in 1983 but wasn’t celebrated in all 50 states until 2000. And there’s much more to enjoy here …

HOLIDAYS IN INDIA

th Kite shop in IndiaGO FLY A KITE! One of India’s oldest holiday traditions unfolds in mid January—welcoming spring! Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Makar Sankranti, an ancient custom that looks to the stars for signs that the world is growing lighter again. Customs now vary by regions, including sweets and beautiful traditional symbols, but by far the most popular form of celebration is flying kites.

Stephanie also includes in that column a news item about the Sikh festival of Mela Maghi.

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Amazon_com__Michigan_State_School_of_Journalism__Books__Biography__Blog__Audiobooks__KindleCONFRONT BIGOTRY

WANT PEACE? HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry by reducing the price of the Bias Busters guidebook on understanding Muslim-Americans to 99 cents. Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students. Their guide is recommended nationally by a top editor at The Huffington Post.

 

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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 …

Peter Lichtman and his wives Becky and Susan from Suzy Farbman3 LIVES LINKED IN LIFE AND DEATHGodSigns author Suzy Farbman tells readers about the recently published reflections of psychologist Dr. Peter Lichtenberg. He writes about experiencing grief twice in his life after the untimely death of two wives: “Sadly, I am among the unlucky few in modern times who have suffered bereavement not only as a young man, but in middle age as well.” Suzy tells the story of these three, in brief, then links to Peter’s entire memoir—a lengthy column he posted online about life, death and lessons he has learned.

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Peacemakers …

REDISCOVER HOPE—Daniel Buttry’s inspiring new book We Are the Socks is full of true stories about men and women who risked pursuing peace even in the face of enormous challenges around the world. Read about Dan’s adventure in writing this new book. And, in a short video, Dan tells the surprising story behind the title.

INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—You’ll enjoy more than 100 stories of men and women who dared to cross boundaries in Buttry’s main website: InterfaithPeacemakers

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

GREAT GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inspiring as well!

thumb movie Youth with Caine and Keitel (1)ALL THE MOVIES—Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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Cover Story: Join a chorus for peace in 2016

Playing for Change Pemba Laka scene of a childrens chorus in AfricaDON’T BE SILENT—
SING ALONG

FIND A CHORUS CLOSE TO HOME—In 2016, we’re all looking for ways to feel safe and promote peace. That’s true whatever your faith or political persuasion might be. So, ReadTheSpirit.com magazine is kicking off this new year with some ideas for finding a chorus you can join, wherever you live right now. Let’s start with Playing for Change … Come on. Read this story—or simply enjoy the toe-tapping music video we’ve included with this column.

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red delicious applesDELICIOUS—OR NOT?

FEED THE SPIRIT—Bobbie Lewis starts the new year with a cautionary tale about a food fad that once took America by storm—but now is fizzling. Her story chronicles the rise and fall of the Red Delicious, a century-old variety once valued for its taste that morphed into a bitter giant. She draws on reporting from The Atlantic and also shares an apple recipe that she guarantees is still … well, delicious.

 

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ALL THE HOLIDAYS

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries..
christmas star (1)
POINTING TO EPIPHANY—Stretching all the way back to our first winter season in 2007, we bring back A Star to Guide Us, a wonderful real-life story from Pennsylvania writer, the Rev. John Emmert.

12th NIGHT, EPIPHANY and THEOPHANY—In Western Christianity, Epiphany is celebrated as a time the “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus. The night before this holiday is Twelfth Night, which has a rich cultural tradition from Shakespeare to some communities that still celebrate the holiday. But in Eastern Christianity, Theophany is the name of the day and more of Jesus’s life is recalled than in the West. Holiday columnist Stephanie Fenton has the whole fascinating story for us.

 

th Kite shop in IndiaGO FLY A KITE! One of India’s oldest holiday traditions unfolds in mid January—welcoming spring! Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Makar Sankranti, an ancient custom that looks to the stars for signs that the world is growing lighter again. Customs now vary by regions, including sweets and beautiful traditional symbols, but by far the most popular form of celebration is flying kites.

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Amazon_com__Michigan_State_School_of_Journalism__Books__Biography__Blog__Audiobooks__KindleCONFRONT BIGOTRY

WANT PEACE? HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry by reducing the price of their guidebook on understanding Muslim-Americans to 99 cents. Leading figures in journalism are praising this move. Please join them in spreading the news! Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students. Their guide was just recommended nationally by a top editor at The Huffington Post.

 

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

GREAT GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inspiring as well!

thumb joy movie posterALL THE MOVIES—Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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Cover Story: Happy New Year 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016

th New-Years-2016HOLIDAY COLUMNIST Stephanie Fenton packs her New Year’s column with lots of news and intriguing links you can use. She covers the holiday news from Times Square to the centuries-old Methodist tradition of “Watch Night.”

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ALL THE HOLIDAYS

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries..

th Kwanzaa-party-celebration‘JOYOUS KWANZAA’! Did you know that’s a recommended way to greet friends and neighbors who are celebrating this nearly half-century-old holiday season? Stephanie Fenton reports on Seven Principles families will emphasize during this period from December 26 through January 1.

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christmas star (1)A STAR TO GUIDE US


POINTING TO EPIPHANY—
Stretching all the way back to our first winter season in 2007, we bring back A Star to Guide Us, a wonderful real-life story from Pennsylvania writer, the Rev. John Emmert.

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LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIP
& 30-DAY CAKE

30-day-cake-with desiree cooper columnFROM DESIREE COOPER—You may know Desiree Cooper from her newspaper stories, her online columns or that earlier era on National Public Radio. This week, she shares with our readers the inspiring story of a life-long friendship—and a special 30-day cake. And, yes, she includes a version of the recipe you can try at home.

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Amazon_com__Michigan_State_School_of_Journalism__Books__Biography__Blog__Audiobooks__KindleCONFRONT BIGOTRY

WANT PEACE? HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry by reducing the price of their guidebook on understanding Muslim-Americans to 99 cents. Leading figures in journalism are praising this move. Please join them in spreading the news! Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students. Their guide was just recommended nationally by a top editor at The Huffington Post.

dr_larycia_hawkins_-_Google_SearchWHY IT’S IMPORTANT NOW—Tension between some conservative Christians and Muslims is showing up in parts of the U.S., including Wheaton College’s decision to discipline a tenured professor for affirming on her social media that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. That’s a point made by Pope Francis, as well, but Wheaton’s doctrine insists that the Christian God differs from the Muslim God—and Professor Larycia Hawkins is paying the price. Here is The Atlantic’s coverage of Wheaton’s actions; and New York Times coverage. But, not all evangelicals agree with Wheaton’s move: Here’s the Third Way Newsletter’s evangelical rebuke of Wheaton’s decision.

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YES, THERE IS HOPE …

Brenda Rosenberg reads coverage in the Jewish News with two people included in the book Abbeygail Omaits and Rashid Baydoun (1)HARNESSING THE POWER OF TENSION—One emerging strategy to bridge even the deepest cross-cultural chasms is described in a new book, Harnessing the Power of Tension. Under a headline, “Leadership approach is a new way to solve conflicts,” The Jewish News Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl reported in the magazine’s December 17 issue about this new book and new programs created by Brenda Rosenberg and colleague Samia Bahsoun. Their method “uses tension as an opportunity to inform those in conflict of the deepest fears, pains and transgenerational wounds that separate people and plague the world,” Jackie reported. You can learn more about Rosenberg’s upcoming programs at her website. Columnist Suzy Farbman also reported on Brenda’s efforts.

 

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‘HOPE FOR THE CITY’ …

Jack Kresnak Hope for the City in the Free Press 2015A STAND-UP-AND-CHEER BOOKThe Detroit Free Press was so impressed with Jack Kresnak’s brand-new biography of Father William Cunningham, called Hope for the City, that then newspaper devoted a 3-page spread to excerpting the book. That’s high praise indeed! Learn more about the book and how to order a copy for yourself—and someone you love.

 

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DANCING HER WAY TO HEALTH

Dancing With Survivors 2015 Carol Ziecik Laura Segal YouTubeGOD-SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman tells the true story of Carol Ziecik (at right in this photo), who survived cancer and discovered that ballroom dancing was part of her pathway to recovery. This column also includes a video, featuring Carol, her sister and their dancing partners.

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inpsiring as well! Religion scholar Ken Chitwood, the author of FaithGoesPop columns, contributed to this new book and says he’s “overwhelmingly excited.”

th Spotlight movie stillHOLIDAY MOVIES—Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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Cover Story: Enjoy these ‘Merry Christmas!’ stories

MAY THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH

The majority of Americans join more than 2 billion people worldwide in celebrating Christmas. This week, to mark this Season of Peace, we’re digging deep into ReadTheSpirit to share these great holiday stories …

Las Posadas procession photo via Wikiimedia Commons (1)CHRISTMAS IS COMING—Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the Western Advent season—including the 9-day custom called La PosadasShe also writes about the Eastern Orthodox Nativity Fast. And, for many, she reminds us that this is the Yultide season, complete with crackling fires and seasonal treats. Finally, here is Stephanie’s main story about Christmas, including a little Christmas history (the holiday wasn’t always so popular) and the ongoing divisions between East and West on the date.

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th Sainsburys advertisement on centennial of the WWI Christmas TruceTHE CHRISTMAS TRUCE—101 years ago, soldiers briefly paused the savage violence across World War I trenches in France. This Interfaith Peacemakers column tells the story of Christmas 1914—and includes two videos you’ll want to watch, especially John McCutcheon singing Christmas in the Trenches. From 2014, here is Stephanie’s story about the centennial of the Truce, which also includes a video.

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ARE YOU DOWNSIZING CHRISTMAS? Are you among the millions trimming back on this year’s Christmas bash? If so, then you may be following Pope Francis’s advice and you’re likely to enjoy this “Downsizing Christmas” column from 2013 by Cindy LaFerle.

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Christmas_Carol_George_C_Scott (1)THE 5 BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES (AND ALL THE REST)—Published in 2012, this column about the “family tree” of so-called “Christmas movies” continues to spark debate among our readers. Check out how ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm makes the case that there, really, are only 5 Christmas movies.

 

 

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christmas star (1)A STAR TO GUIDE US


POINTING US ONWARD—
Stretching all the way back to our first Christmas season in 2007, we bring back A Star to Guide Us, a wonderful real-life story from Pennsylvania writer, the Rev. John Emmert.

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LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIP
& 30-DAY CAKE

30-day-cake-with desiree cooper columnFROM DESIREE COOPER—You may know Desiree Cooper from her newspaper stories, her online columns or that earlier era on National Public Radio. This week, she shares with our readers the inspiring Christmas story of a life-long friendship—and a special 30-day cake. And, yes, she includes a version of the recipe you can try at home.

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Amazon_com__Michigan_State_School_of_Journalism__Books__Biography__Blog__Audiobooks__KindleCONFRONT BIGOTRY

WANT PEACE? HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry by reducing the price of their guidebook on understanding Muslim-Americans to 99 cents. Leading figures in journalism are praising this move. Please join them in spreading the news! Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students. Their guide was just recommended nationally by a top editor at The Huffington Post.

dr_larycia_hawkins_-_Google_SearchWHY IT’S IMPORTANT NOW—Tension between some conservative Christians and Muslims is showing up in parts of the U.S., including Wheaton College’s decision to discipline a tenured professor for affirming on her social media that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. That’s a point made by Pope Francis, as well, but Wheaton’s doctrine insists that the Christian God differs from the Muslim God—and Professor Larycia Hawkins is paying the price. Here is The Atlantic’s coverage of Wheaton’s actions; and New York Times coverage. But, not all evangelicals agree with Wheaton’s move: Here’s the Third Way Newsletter’s evangelical rebuke of Wheaton’s decision.

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YES, THERE IS HOPE …

Brenda Rosenberg reads coverage in the Jewish News with two people included in the book Abbeygail Omaits and Rashid Baydoun (1)HARNESSING THE POWER OF TENSION—One emerging strategy to bridge even the deepest cross-cultural chasms is described in a new book, Harnessing the Power of TensionUnder a headline, “Leadership approach is a new way to solve conflicts,” The Jewish News Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl reported in the magazine’s December 17 issue about this new book and new programs created by Brenda Rosenberg and colleague Samia Bahsoun. Their method “uses tension as an opportunity to inform those in conflict of the deepest fears, pains and transgenerational wounds that separate people and plague the world,” Jackie reported. You can learn more about Rosenberg’s upcoming programs at her website. Columnist Suzy Farbman also reported on Brenda’s efforts.

 

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‘HOPE FOR THE CITY’ …

Jack Kresnak Hope for the City in the Free Press 2015A STAND-UP-AND-CHEER BOOKThe Detroit Free Press was so impressed with Jack Kresnak’s brand-new biography of Father William Cunningham, called Hope for the City, that then newspaper devoted a 3-page spread to excerpting the book. That’s high praise indeed! Learn more about the book and how to order a copy for yourself—and someone you love.

 

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DANCING HER WAY TO HEALTH

Dancing With Survivors 2015 Carol Ziecik Laura Segal YouTubeGOD-SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman tells the true story of Carol Ziecik (at right in this photo), who survived cancer and discovered that ballroom dancing was part of her pathway to recovery. This column also includes a video, featuring Carol, her sister and their dancing partners.

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ALL THE HOLIDAYS

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries..

th Kwanzaa-party-celebration‘JOYOUS KWANZAA’! Did you know that’s a recommended way to greet friends and neighbors who are celebrating this nearly half-century-old holiday season? Stephanie Fenton reports on Seven Principles families will emphasize during this period from December 26 through January 1.

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

Cover Edward McNulty Jesus Christ Movie Star (1)CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inpsiring as well! Religion scholar Ken Chitwood, the author of FaithGoesPop columns, contributed to this new book and says he’s “overwhelmingly excited.”

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HOLIDAY MOVIES—Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.

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