Cover Story: Let’s be part of the solution … Friends!

FRIENDSHIP—MORE POWERFUL THAN HATRED

WE ALL NEED a reminder of this potent truth about the power of friendship. Remember when a call for “love”—for friendly relationships—touched off peaceful revolutions across Eastern Europe in the late 1980s? Millions rose to change the world. Czech activist Vaclav Havel made this message his personal banner: “Truth and Love Prevail over Lies and Hate!”

And, right now, religious leaders around the world are allowing a nonprofit interfaith group to promote this message, once again. Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute which helped organize the joint statement, calls the appeal “a significant novelty from a theological perspective.” The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “We don’t deal with difference by pretending it doesn’t exist. We deal with it by building relationships.”

The appeal to “make friends” certainly caught the world’s eye. Here is US News coverage of the appeal. Here is coverage in The Times of Israel, the Huffington Post, the National Catholic Reporter, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Detroit News, by our friend columnist Neal Rubin.

Watch this video yourself—and share it with friends—by clicking on this link or by clicking on either of the two photos above.

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RAMADAN
& MORE ON ‘SHARIA’

RAMADAN, covered this year by Holidays expert Stephanie Fenton, continues through most of this week with many Muslims gathering to break the month-long fast on Sunday morning, June 25, 2017. Family festivities related to Ramadan’s end—referred to commonly as “the Eid”—are likely to continue into June 26 and 27. Remember that these families, this year, have suffered through an unusually high level of anti-Muslim activism in the U.S.

OUR REGULAR READERS understand that the current anxiety about “Sharia” in the U.S. is fueled mainly by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups. All of the world’s great religions promote codes for faithful living and “Sharia” is the name of the Muslim pathway to which most of the world’s 1.8-billion Muslims aspire. This spring, we recommended a helpful overview of “Sharia,” reported by several of the world’s top religion writers, headlined simply What Sharia means and how it is understood around the world. Now, an occasional contributor to ReadTheSpirit, Victor Begg, has published his own overview of the issue for Americans in one of the USA Today news sites, headlined Anti-sharia protesters are selling phantom threats. You may want to share Victor’s column with friends who remain confused about Sharia. And, Victor: Thanks for sharing this link with us!

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Want to see all the holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

.JUNETEENTH

FREEDOM did not come easily after the Civil War, which is why many African-American communities nationwide still observe a holiday called “Juneteenth.” Stephanie Fenton has the story about how slaves in Texas finally attained freedom in that state—and how they started an annual remembrance of that milestone.

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LITHA, SOLSTICE, MIDSUMMER

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE—Billions of people north of the Equator are celebrating “the longest day of the year” in a host of traditional ways. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has the storyDid you know? Though harvest is not in full swing yet, many wild herbs are mature for picking and, thus, Midsummer is known as “Gathering Day” in Wales and in other various regions.

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Comic-culture hero Regie shows the world his true superpower

LIFESIZE (AND PUPPET) REGIE MAKE A SPLASH

JOIN THE ADVENTURE—It was all in a day’s work for the broccoli-shaped superhero Regie, who left a crowd of parents and children savoring the flavors of colorful fruits and vegetables—and pondering the rich role that food plays in our lives. Regie—both in a 6-foot-tall costumed version and in the form of a 1-foot-tall plush puppet—had top billing as the star of the show. But, a Michigan state senator who appeared with Regie, and told his own story of a life-long struggle with diabetes, clearly won the hearts of the crowd. Please, enjoy our Cover Story about Regie, this week, and share it with friends on social media.

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Want to see all the holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

FATHER’S DAY

DID YOU KNOW? Father’s Day is only 45 years old. Even though the idea was proposed more than a century ago, it wasn’t an official observance until 1972. Stephanie Fenton, our Holidays expert, tells the story behind this popular occasion. She also shares some helpful (and delicious) links to recipes and holiday ideas.

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RAMADAN

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JUNETEENTH

FREEDOM did not come easily after the Civil War, which is why many African-American communities nationwide still observe a holiday called “Juneteenth.” Stephanie Fenton has the story about how slaves in Texas finally attained freedom in that state—and how they started an annual remembrance of that milestone.

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CABARET 313

GodSigns—Columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the blossoming arts scene in Detroit, which includes a cabaret series that brings top stars to “pop up” venues.

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: ‘Changing Our Mind’ and finding the courage to stand with vulnerable minorities

FINDING HOPE IN DANGEROUS TIMES

DR. DAVID GUSHEE SPEAKS, at length, in this week’s Cover Story about the landmark publication of two books: A third and definitive edition of his Changing Our Mind (which includes a small-group study guide and also Gushee’s pointed response to his critics) as well as an inspiring memoir about his Christian journey away from American evangelicalism.

Need a solid dose of hope and encouragement? You’ll find it in this week’s Cover Story. At one point, Gushee tells us about his response to daily headlines about dangerous confrontations over our nation’s vulnerable minorities: “Each day there is new evidence of this tearing at America’s soul. … What gives me hope is that there also is a very solid constituency in our country for an expansive, inclusive society that happily welcomes diversity of all types: racial, sexual, gender and religious diversity.” And, please, share this week’s Cover Story with friends!

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

FATHER’S DAY

DID YOU KNOW? Father’s Day is only 45 years old. Even though the idea was proposed more than a century ago, it wasn’t an official observance until 1972. Stephanie Fenton, our Holidays expert, tells the story behind this popular occasion. She also shares some helpful (and delicious) links to recipes and holiday ideas.

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TRINITY SUNDAYStephanie Fenton also reports on a Christian festival marked around the world that has deep roots in the faith.

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Dates are a customary way to break the fast as night falls, each day during Ramadan. The nights during this fasting month often are marked with family dinners and visits to Muslim centers where the faithful gather to hear recitations of the Quran. ReadTheSpirit has lots of Ramadan resources to enjoy.

RAMADAN

 

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Want more on holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

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SUZY FARBMAN

HIGH ‘STEAKS’ BET—Journalists are always eager to predict American trends, so the Farbmans and famed journalist Charles Eisendrath made a big bet on the U.S. presidential election. The results left the good-natured journalist eating … well, that’s the story, so please click here and read about what happened. (Along the way: You’ll learn more about Eisendrath’s amazing invention that today is considered state-of-the-art grilling.)

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY’s easy-to-remember online address is at VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Sorting reality from dangerous myths about ‘Sharia’ during Ramadan

ALL RELIGIONS PROMOTE IDEALS

EVOLVING DEBATE WITHIN ISLAM—As the fasting month begins for 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, an ongoing debate over the role of “Sharia” (or “Sharia Law”) continues to surface in headlines involving Muslim communities. Thanks to a leading organization of religion scholars, three top journalists were able to prepare one of the most interesting and balanced reports on the subject we’ve seen in recent years. The story is headlined simply What Sharia means and how it is understood around the world. The article is hosted on the website of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ). Please, read this thoughtful overview and share it with friends. The subject of Sharia is frequently misunderstood and often is used in an inaccurate way to spark anti-Muslim bigotry. And, thanks to our friends at IARJ for publishing this story at the start of Ramadan!

This week, you may also want to read:

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AND—HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

PAYING TRIBUTE—As this week begins, Americans are enjoying a three-day holiday weekend and in many communities, families also are paying tribute to fallen soldiers. Columnist Stephanie Fenton has the Memorial Day story.

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Want more on holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

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CELEBRATING GRADUATION IN STYLE

GOD SIGNS—Did you know that more than 5 million men and women are graduating from high school or college this year in North America? All the way from Prince Edward Island, Suzy Farbman brings us this fun story of a boy who dreamed of his senior prom with a particular image of his grand entrance in mind. And, this very enterprising young man made it happen, too!

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY’s easy-to-remember online address is at VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: ‘Never Long Enough’ helps families honor loved ones’ lives

NEW APPROACH TO SHARING MEMORIES

CREATIVE TEAM—This week in ReadTheSpirit, we welcome the creative team behind a unique illustrated book that invites families to talk about their favorite memories of a loved one near the end of life. Called Never Long Enough, the book is a collaboration between an expert in working with families on end-of-life issues—and an artist with years of experience in education and counseling. Already their book is sparking interest among a wide range of community leaders, including educators, social workers, clergy and counselors. But, the book doesn’t require a professional to work its wonders in your family. Please, check out our Cover Story on Never Long Enough and consider supporting this creative team by ordering a copy of their book. (Your family will thank you.)

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REVIVING DETROIT

GOD SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman, who has been a Detroit supporter throughout her journalistic career, reports on a special day and evening she spent with friends celebrating the city’s revival in the arts and visitor accommodations.

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SUPPORTING EACH OTHER

RODNEY CURTIS—Author and photographer Rodney Curtis is known nationwide for his high-spirited (and successful) battle with cancer, described in his book A ‘Cute’ Leukemia. Since that time, he has tried to support others in many ways, including this new column that he calls Brace Yourself (and others). Please, share this column with someone else. We all need a little reminder to reach out to friends who are in the midst of this challenging journey.

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HOLIDAYS:
RAMADAN IS COMING

Now more than ever, we all should try to learn more about Ramadan. Anti-Muslim bias is on the rise in many parts of the West, which fuels global tension and that seems especially tragic in this annual month of fasting and peaceful, prayerful renewal for a quarter of the world’s population. During Ramadan, Muslim families around the world turn to the kind of self-reflection that Christians traditionally experience during Lent and Jews seek during the High Holidays.

We recommend the classic overview of this month by Najah Bazzy, a Muslim educator, philanthropist and nationally known expert in cross-cultural healthcare. You can learn more about her book in our bookstore. Or, you may prefer to read a sample of her book, the chapter titled Why We FastWe also invite you to enjoy—and share with friends—this interview with Najah Bazzy about her work and the traditions of the fasting month.

Also, our Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Ramadan 2017, including a new Pew Research Center report on the growth of the world’s Muslim population.

Joe Grimm, who teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, also addresses this overall theme in his column: How your Ramadan greeting can build a healthier community.

FEED THE SPIRIT

In keeping with our Ramadan theme, we are highlighting a popular two-part FeedTheSpirit column. Part 1 in the series describes Parwan Anwar’s family customs during the month of Ramadan and includes a recipe for bolani, an Afghani stuffed, fried bread that is terrific when it comes time to break the daily fast. Then, in Part 2, Parwin describes the dangerous trek through mountain roads that she and her family followed in fleeing from Afghanistan in the 1970s and includes a recipe for Shorba Birang, a rich vegetable soup.

Want more on holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY’s easy-to-remember online address is at VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: What do you know about Ramadan?

DISCOVERING THE BEAUTY OF RAMADAN

COVER STORY—Now more than ever, we all should try to learn more about Ramadan. Anti-Muslim bias is on the rise in many parts of the West, which fuels global tension and that seems especially tragic in this annual month of fasting and peaceful, prayerful renewal for a quarter of the world’s population. During Ramadan, Muslim families around the world turn to the kind of self-reflection that Christians traditionally experience during Lent and Jews seek during the High Holidays.

We recommend the classic overview of this month by Najah Bazzy, a Muslim educator, philanthropist and nationally known expert in cross-cultural healthcare. You can learn more about her book in our bookstore. Or, you may prefer to read a sample of her book, the chapter titled Why We FastWe also invite you to enjoy—and share with friends—this interview with Najah Bazzy about her work and the traditions of the fasting month.

Also, our Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Ramadan 2017, including a new Pew Research Center report on the growth of the world’s Muslim population.

After a decade of publishing ReadTheSpirit, we know that our online magazine is read around the world. But we also know that a majority of our readership lives in the U.S. and Canada—and has a Christian affiliation. So  you might ask: Why do we pay so much attention to Ramadan and reaching out to our Muslim friends and neighbors? Joe Grimm, who teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, answered that question for us in a column headlined: How your Ramadan greeting can build a healthier community.

FEED THE SPIRIT

In keeping with our Ramadan theme, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis brings us a two-part column that was published a couple of years ago—yet remains a popular destination for readers seeking stories about refugees from Afghanistan and their food traditions. Part 1 in the series describes Parwan Anwar’s family customs during the month of Ramadan and includes a recipe for bolani, an Afghani stuffed, fried bread that is terrific when it comes time to break the daily fast. Then, in Part 2, Parwin describes the dangerous trek through mountain roads that she and her family followed in fleeing from Afghanistan in the 1970s. That column has a recipe for another Ramadan favorite: Shorba Birang, a rich vegetable soup from her homeland.

Want more on holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

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ENDING THE SECRECY

GOD SIGNS—This week, columnist Suzy Farbman brings us the story of a family that kept a secret for many years—about a daughter of jazz legend Louis Armstrong. The story finally has been breaking into the news media in recent years, including original letters from Armstrong about the relationship. Suzy tells us the story of the two women most directly affected by this unusual family story.

 

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Celebrating Mothers (and Saints) among us

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

COVER STORY—There’s still time before the holiday to order a copy of Barbara Mahany’s wonderful book, Motherprayer. Please, enjoy our interview with Barbara, which includes some excerpts of the book.

DID YOU KNOW? Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton tells how Mother’s Day originated and provides lots of fun links to holiday resources. Stephanie also includes news about the “Mother’s Day Movement,” which is trying to lift up women and girls in the developing world. And, yes, Stephanie has included a couple of links to Mother’s Day recipes on other websites. Within ReadTheSpirit, one of our all-time favorite Mother’s Day food columns is this story from Mennonite writer Shirley Showalter about her family’s legacy of Sugar Cookies.

‘REQUIEM FOR MY MOTHER’—Hollywood composer Stephen Edwards is giving all of us an inspiring gift in honor of his late mother: It’s a broadcast of a documentary film about his creation of an ambitious orchestral-and-choral composition that was performed at the Vatican. Check local listings in your part of the country: The nationwide broadcast is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern on May 14 on the PBS World channel. Edwards’ main website for this musical project includes videos and samples of the music. The form of Edwards’ composition is a “requiem,” a classical memorial Mass, which may sound quite somber. But, ReadTheSpirit was able to preview the hour-long film and it is delightful! One of the highlights is Edwards explaining the enormous popularity of other classic Requiems in Hollywood movies. (Think Star Wars.) Another highlight is footage of all the local American choirs who traveled to the Vatican to perform the final piece.

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SAINTS AMONG US:
SOLANUS CASEY

The big news out of the Vatican this week for American Catholics is the advancement of the late Solanus Casey toward official recognition as a saint—a process known as canonization. And, let’s be clear: In Catholic tradition, canonization doesn’t “make” a saint. Whatever Solanus’ official Vatican title may be at the moment, he already is a saint. Canonization refers to the Vatican’s step-by-step investigation and affirmation that this particular saint should be lifted up as a global example among the countless saints who already are part of the Christian cosmos. Care to read more?

The Capuchins preserve two news stories originally reported by ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm: The first is a 2007 overview of Solanus, published in The Detroit Free Press 50 years after his death. The second is a 2006 story about a documentary film on his life and legacy.

For news from this past week, we recommend Niraj Warikoo’s story in The Detroit Free Press. You might also enjoy this story in America Magazine.

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MICHAEL TOWBES

GOD SIGNS—Suzy Farbman’s column, this week, recalls another “saint”: Michael Towbes, who combined business and philanthropy with a love of creative experiences from Broadway to Burning Man. In Judaism, the term “saint” is not as common as “tzadik,” which certainly describes Michael. The word means “righteous one,” which is similar to the Christian concept of a saint. Enjoy this remembrance of a true tzadik: Michael Towbes.

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

VESAK—The word dharma resounds around the world this week, as Buddhists, monks—and even many non-Buddhists as well as international UN offices pause to observe Vesak. A Buddhist observance, Vesak recalls a trio of events: the birth, enlightenment and death of Guatama Buddha. Stephanie Fenton has the story.

 

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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