Cover Story: An Advent Tale of Two Cities … New York and Rome

‘Comfort, Comfort my People’

pope_francis_visits_the_united_states_capitol-2015-2AN ADVENT TALE—In the midst of growing darkness in our Northern Hemisphere, the world’s Christians begin Advent. ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm offers this column contrasting the latest news from New York and Rome on darkness, hope and the need for compassion. There’s even a suggestion of an inspiring quote you may want to print out and carry with you through the weeks preparing for Christmas.

wpid-1203th_St_Nicholas_from_Turkey.jpgEASTERN ORTHODOX Christians began their annual Nativity Fast on November 15. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has that story. Western Christians began Advent, their liturgical period anticipating Christmas on November 27.

MANY CHRISTIAN families around the world also are looking ahead to the Feast of St. Nicholas, the forerunner of our pop-culture Santa Claus. We have that story, as well.

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

..

INTERNATIONAL ARTS COMMUNITY

kresge-arts-in-detroit-website-1GODSIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman brings us an inspiring story, this week, about Michelle Perron, a tireless promoter of the arts who finally landed in Detroit, Michigan. Through various organizations in Detroit, she is actively developing resources for the international community of artists gathered in this city. This is a good-news story about one remarkable woman making a big difference in our world.

 

.

FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

arrival-movie-still-4ED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s new movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..
.

.

Cover Story: Welcoming St. Nicholas, the ‘real’ Santa Claus

th St NicholasNICHOLAS STILL INSPIRES

COVER STORYHolidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the Dec. 6 holiday celebrating St. Nicholas—the “real” Santa Claus. This ancient bishop’s generosity—and his courage in helping the vulnerable—is an inspiring example in our world today. Stephanie also highlights links to online resources for Do It Yourself crafts from the St. Nicholas Center.

AND THERE’S MORE! Stephanie Fenton and RTS Editor David Crumm called on St. Nicholas Center creator Carol Myers to help journalists around the world more accurately cover the very popular figure of St. Nicholas. Here is that combined column on the website of the International Association of Religion Journalists. Especially if you are a teacher or communicator, you’ll find that column very helpful.

.

WHAT CAN WE BE THANKFUL FOR?

carrie_everything_is_everywhere_black_jacket_guitar_0-1CARRIE NEWCOMER—As Thanksgiving approaches in 2016, we’re recommending a new book and a new album. This new set was created by Indiana-based Carrie Newcomer, the Quaker musician and writer whose persona is defined by the American heartland.

Please, read our interview with Carrie Newcomer.

.

.

ellen-kahn-and-granddaughter-kira-thompson-thSURVIVAL AND TRIUMPH—Each week, Suzy Farbman’s GodSigns column brings us an inspiring real-life story, often with remarkable convergences. In this season of thankfulness, Suzy tells the story of Ellen Kahn. As a girl in Berlin, Ellen and her Jewish family experienced Kristallnacht first hand and managed to flee Germany. Suzy’s story takes us all the way to contemporary America. Read—and be thankful.

.

.

patricia-montemurri-story-for-duke-university-leadership-magazine-on-cass-community-services-faith-fowlerFAITH FOWLER TRANSFORMING DETROIT—At ReadTheSpirit, we are giving thanks this week for a terrific profile of Detroit’s Faith Fowler by veteran journalist Patricia Montemurri. The magazine story was published in an online Leadership journal from Duke University. To put it simply: We need stories like this now! Thanks to her deep faith and boundless energy, Faith Fowler continues to transform the city one person and one home at a time. (We’re also pleased to recommend Faith’s own memoir as a terrific holiday gift for friends!)

.

MICHAEL TWITTY’S KOSHER SOUL

michael-twitty-kosher-soul-1FEED THE SPIRIT—Amazing but true! Michael Twitty is both a highly respected African-American chef and teaches Hebrew and keeps Kosher in his Jewish home. FeedTheSpirit’s Bobbie Lewis brings us a guest column this week that profiles this remarkable teacher and bridge builderPlus, Michael shares with us his recipe for black-eyed pea hummus. Might be a terrific new offering for your Thanksgiving guests!

.

Thanksgiving table with folks serving (1)And the holiday …

THANKSGIVING—Sure, we’ve got the whole holiday story! That’s the specialty of our holidays expert Stephanie Fenton, who tells the whole story … and provides some wonderful links to recipes (including vegetarian options) and Thanksgiving crafts. Enjoy!

 

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

..

.

..

FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

whats-cooking-movie-dvdED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org.

THANKSGIVING-theme movies:

Among Ed’s new movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..

Cover Story: Carrie Newcomer reminds us of thankfulness

WHAT CAN WE BE THANKFUL FOR?

carrie_everything_is_everywhere_black_jacket_guitar_0-1COVER STORY—As Thanksgiving approaches in 2016, all Americans are anxious. Half of Americans are hurting. Even the half of our neighbors who “won” the White House, though, are deeply concerned about what comes next. In such an unsettling season, ReadTheSpirit does what we do best: We’re recommending a new book and a new album. This new set was created by Indiana-based Carrie Newcomer, the Quaker musician and writer whose persona is defined by the American heartland.

Countless readers have contacted our magazine over the past week, expressing a wide range of concerns about our lives as Americans—and the future of our world. A central theme of Carrie Newcomer’s music is returning to the solidity of our roots in personal relationships and local communities—and renewing our strength and inspiration to face the world. This is already “the holiday shopping season,” and we can think of no better gift for friends than this unique set from Carrie of music plus her slim book of poetry and essays.

Please, read our cover story this week, an interview with Carrie Newcomer.

Thanksgiving table with folks serving (1)What about the holiday?

THANKSGIVING—Sure, we’ve got the whole holiday story! That’s the specialty of our holidays expert Stephanie Fenton, who tells the whole story … and provides some wonderful links to recipes (including vegetarian options) and Thanksgiving crafts. Enjoy!

.

.

GUSHEE: ‘Debunking an imagined past’

th-Changing-Our-Mind-cover-with-author-David-P-GusheeMISSING ‘CHRISTIANS’—Two top scholars of religion in American life—David Gushee and Stewart Hoover—are both stepping forward to talk publicly about “white Christian” nostalgia that fueled Donald Trump’s campaign. Gushee talked with Publishers Weekly magazine. Hoover posted columns on his own website. Here’s a roundup of what they’re saying.

.

.

..

..

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

NATIVITY FAST

nativity-orthodox-icon-1CHRISTMAS BEFORE THANKSGIVING? Millions of Orthodox Christians around the world begin thinking about the Nativity, better known as Christmas in the U.S., before American Thanksgiving rolls around. That’s because they are called to a lengthy Nativity Fast in preparation for the holiday. Stephanie Fenton has the story.

..

.

.

.

.

.

‘Family Tree Will Always Grow’

fullsizerender-2GODSIGNSSuzy Farbman’s column this week is about how her family remembers a beloved member each year. Her inspirational stories always involve remarkable convergences; and this one involves a song you’ll be pleased to discover: The Family Tree.

.

.

.

.

Of tombstones … and weddings …

debra-darvick-column-on-tombstonesDEBRA DARVICK—Advice columnist Debra Darvick specializes in advising Jewish families about everyday troubles in life—but, hey, we’ve all got troubles whatever our faith! This week, she responds to a question about a tombstone … and wedding invitations.

 .

 

.

..

visual-parables-journal-november-2016-issue-2FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

ED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org. The Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with complete study guides on recent films—enjoyed by individuals and small groups—is the one resource Ed sells to support his ongoing work. The November 2016 issue is now available. Please consider subscribing.

Among Ed’s latest movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..

Cover Story: Saints, silliness and civility with Father Jim Martin

BEST-SELLING AUTHOR ON A DECADE WITH ‘SAINTS’

wpid-1205_thumb_Father_James_Martin_and_Mirth_of_saints.jpgRECONCILIATION & HOPE—Journalist and author Father James Martin, one of America’s most famous Catholic priests, talks with us about finding reconciliation and hope in unlikely places. This is the 10th anniversary of his best-selling book about the inspiration we can find today in the lives of the saints. Plus, its the dawn of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Those subjects may not sound like moments of inspiration—but signs of hope are there,  if we look carefully. Enjoy this interview with Martin and, please, share it with friends. (Just a tip! Several of his books, which we mention, would make great holiday gifts.)

.

.

AND SPEAKING OF JESUITS …

father-gregory-boyle-sj-with-homeboys-nonprofit-in-los-angeles-2GODSIGNS—This week, columnist Suzy Farbman brings us the inspiring story of another famous Jesuit: Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles. You may have heard about Father Boyle’s work on television. Suzy recommends Boyle’s inspiring memoir, Tattoos on the Heart. This is yet another sign of hope in our world, today.

..

 

..

AND SPEAKING OF HOPE …

world-series-marquee-2SPIRIT OF THE SERIES—Popular columnist and author Benjamin Pratt regularly reminds our readers that the game of baseball has become an American spiritual tradition. As the Cubs triumphed and the series ended, Ben was struck by something he saw night after night … Please, enjoy his column to find out what caught his eye!

.

 

..

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

NATIVITY FAST

nativity-orthodox-icon-1CHRISTMAS BEFORE THANKSGIVING? Millions of Orthodox Christians around the world begin thinking about the Nativity, better known as Christmas in the U.S., before American Thanksgiving rolls around. That’s because they are called to a lengthy Nativity Fast in preparation for the holiday. Stephanie Fenton has the story.

..

.

.

.

FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

ED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s latest movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..

Cover Story: Isn’t it about time for ‘Dropping the Struggle’?

WISE GUIDE FOR AUTUMN 2016

roger-housden-book-cover-dropping-the-struggle-1MEET ROGER HOUSDEN—In one week, millions of Americans are going to fear what will happen next in our world. Whoever “wins” on November 8, millions of “us” as Americans will be very hurt and angry. However high your partisan hopes may be this week—we need to remember this truth about “the other side” if we truly share a vocation of peacemaking. After 10 years in publication, our online magazine has drawn together thousands of readers united by that hope: We can contribute to a better world through pursuing the hope of peace. (This literally is part of the founding principles we posted one decade ago as we launched ReadTheSpirit.)

In searching for the proper Cover Story to prepare for November 8, we thank the team at the New World Library for providing two excerpts from Roger Housden’s new book, Dropping the Struggle. One way to look at Housden’s book is as a classic Eastern appeal to end the spiritual strife, striving and struggling in our lives. After all, Housden is a close colleague of spiritual sages who have appeared in the pages of our magazine over the past decade, including Ram Das, Thich Nhat Hanh and Jacob Needleman. Housden also is British—so he’s not a partisan in American politics.

But as November 8 approaches in the U.S., the message of his book seems to resonate with a powerful spiritual “click.” Whatever happens on Election Day, remember: Millions of “us,” our neighbors, will be hurting. First, read this excerpt from the “Introduction” to Housden’s book.

Then, here is an excerpt of his chapter on struggling with “Change” itself.

.

.

Dr. Eve LahtiPIONEERING DR.
(AND MOM)

GOD SIGNS—This week, Suzy Farbman’s GodSigns column tells the inspiring story of the late Dr. Eve Lahti, who was a pioneer as a physician and was a beloved working Mom as well. And, yes, there’s a remarkable, romantic “GodSigns” twist in the course of Eve’s long life. Enjoy!

 

.

 

.

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder

EXPLORING THE REFORMATION—There’s no bigger anniversary in our lifetime than the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. A year-long commemoration of that revolution begins on October 31, 2016. Editor David Crumm collaborates with Berlin-based correspondent Maria-Paz Lopez this week in a Cover Story about six important tips for accurately exploring this milestone in world history. Want a movie with that? Faith-and-film reviewer Ed McNulty reminds us that the 2003 film about Luther is quite good. (4.5 out of 5 stars)

..

.

Halloween-pumpkins (1)HALLOWEEN
(AND MORE)

SAMHAIN / DIA DE LOS MUERTOS—Yes, these festivals have ancient roots. But the modern expressions show how much traditional ideas can be transformed by popular culture. Holidays specialist Stephanie Fenton sorts the facts from the phantasms in these super-popular festivals.

.

.

pacer-bullying-prevention-month-orange-t-shirt-2BULLYING
PREVENTION
MONTH

SHARE THE NEWS—Our column on Bullying Prevention Month is a one-stop web page for quickly gathering the information you’ll need to get friends involved in combatting bigotry and predatory behavior.

.

..

FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

ED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org.

movie-still-the-people-vs-fritz-bauer-2Among Ed’s latest movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..

.

.

Cover Story: Celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder

EXPLORING THE REFORMATION—Many of our readers are community leaders, teachers, writers and parents who want to accurately understand the influence of religion in today’s world—including holidays and milestones. There’s no bigger anniversary in our lifetime than the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. A year-long commemoration of that revolution begins on October 31, 2016. Editor David Crumm collaborates with Berlin-based correspondent Maria-Paz Lopez this week in a Cover Story about six important tips for accurately exploring this milestone in world history. For example: Did you know that 2016-17 is the first time in history that Europe’s Catholic and Protestant leaders have planned such a major anniversary together? That’s a startling development in interfaith relations.

Want a movie with that? Faith-and-film reviewer Ed McNulty reminds us that the 2003 film about Luther is quite good. (4.5 out of 5 stars)

.

.

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

DIWALI

thumbnail of Diwali LightsFESTIVAL OF LIGHTS—Across India and in Indian communities around the world, families are preparing for the festival of lights known as Diwali. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton gives us an overview of the holiday.

 .

.

.

.

Halloween-pumpkins (1)HALLOWEEN
(AND MORE)

SAMHAIN / DIA DE LOS MUERTOS—Yes, these festivals have ancient roots. But the modern expressions show how much traditional ideas can be transformed by popular culture. Holidays specialist Stephanie Fenton sorts the facts from the phantasms in these super-popular festivals.

.

.

pacer-bullying-prevention-month-orange-t-shirt-2BULLYING
PREVENTION
MONTH

SHARE THE NEWS—Our column on Bullying Prevention Month is a one-stop web page for quickly gathering the information you’ll need to get friends involved in combatting bigotry and predatory behavior.

.

SCAPEGOATING?

sun-over-mountains-1THIRD WAY—The Third Way Newsletter brings us fascinating reflections from Christian writers who are committed to overcoming destructive religious differences. This week, Caroline Kittle recalls the pioneering work on the problem of skapegoating by the late French historian and philosopher Rene Girard.

.

 

REMEMBERING CHURCHILL

hero-of-the-empire-book-cover-thumbnail-1SILENCE LED TO CLARITY—Suzy Farbman brings us weekly columns guaranteed to inspire and surprise. This week, she reaches back to the early life of Winston Churchill for a story about his daring escape from a prisoner of war camp.

.

.

.

 

..

FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

ED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org.

a-man-called-ove-movie-still-3Among Ed’s latest movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..

.

.

Cover Story: Diana Butler Bass Condemns Religious and Political Sexism

Bass and 700 women: ‘We cannot stand by …’

Diana Butler Bass GroundedDIANA BUTLER BASS—In recent months, our magazine has published a series of articles about religion scholar Diana Butler Bass’s groundbreaking work on the environment. Now, she has joined with hundreds of women who are religious leaders to speak out against the disparagement of women both in this year’s toxic presidential campaign—but, even more importantly, within branches of the Christian church. Recent events have crystalized the need for women in American religious life to speak loudly on these issues, Bass and the others are insisting. This week, we are devoting our Cover Story to stories you can share about Bass’s latest prophetic work.

COVERING THE CALL TO ACTION—The Huffington Post has been covering the nationwide call to action by 700 Christian women. While this response came out of Christianity, this effort is broadly applicable to the thousands of women who are the heart and backbone of Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other religious communities as well. Here is a link to the original manifesto with all of the signatures attached in PDF form. Then, on October 13, 2016, Huffington Post reported this news story about the effort. The next day, Huffington Post asked key women within the campaign, including Diana Buter Bass, to respond more fully. Yes, this campaign is specifically prompted by Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric—but the deeper message within this campaign is that the world’s great religions need to take seriously the importance, value and leadership of women.

A ‘GROUNDED’ RENEWAL—Diana Butler Bass calls her new Grounded, “the first book of the second half of my life.” Read our in-depth interview with her about that book.

STUDY GUIDE—We welcomed Christian educator Debbie Houghton to help us write a five-week study guide to Grounded. Here is Part 1 of that guide, which you are free to use for individual inspiration or for small-group discussion.

.

.

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS

Check out all the holidays! Tell friends about the simply Web address: www.InterfaithHolidays.com

CHALLENGING WEATHER FOR SUKKOT

back yard sukkah for Sukkot made of cornstalksFEED THE SPIRIT—Columnist Bobbie Lewis explains why Jewish families across the Northern Hemisphere are especially concerned about the forecasts for Sukkot. This colorful harvest festival is supposed to be celebrated in a make-shift shelter with a loosely thatched roof. That’s not ideal for cool and rainy forecasts! Bobbie explains why Sukkot is so late this year—and shares some delicious recipes. Enjoy!

.

.

pacer-bullying-prevention-month-orange-t-shirt-2BULLYING
PREVENTION
MONTH

SHARE THE NEWS—Our column on Bullying Prevention Month is a one-stop web page for quickly gathering the information you’ll need to get friends involved in combatting bigotry and predatory behavior.

.

 

RESTORING WOMEN’S SPIRITS

fw__sherri_renee__in_blog_-_david_crumm_gmail_com_-_gmail-2GODSIGNS—Suzy Farbman brings us another inspiring column about overcoming huge challenges with creativity, talent—and lots of compassion. She profiles Sherri Renee Romm, who has designed new approaches to restoring hair to women who have lost their own.

.

.

.

.

FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

visual-parables-journal-october-2016-issueED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org. Ed’s ongoing work is supported by the long-running Visual Parables Journal, the monthly magazine that’s packed with complete study guides for many of the movies Ed reviews. Please consider purchasing a subscription to the Journal. The current issue includes study guides for Sully, the new Beatles movie, Mr. Church, The Magnificent Seven and many others.

Among Ed’s latest movie reviews are:

.

.

 

.

.

..

.