Cover Story: Launching the Third Way Newsletter


th Ken Wilson and Emily Swan Third Way NewsletterAT THE FOREFRONT in welcoming gay and lesbian Christians to evangelical churches are authors Ken Wilson with A Letter to My Congregation and David P. Gushee with Changing Our Mind. (This week, Gushee is releasing an expanded 2nd Edition of his book as he continues to headline events in this transitional effort.) Meanwhile, Ken Wilson has touched off a nationwide movement called “third way churches” that is included in the January 26 TIME magazine report “Change of Heart.”


th From Valentines Day to LentSENDING OUR LOVE—to  you! Our writers have cooked up a wonderful array of love-related stories.


th Example of Creating a Gratitude GramOUR VALUES—What a timely topic for a week when millions of men and women are thinking about love! OurValues founder, sociologist Wayne Baker, turns to a theme beloved by our readers “Paying it Forward”—and reports that there are many benefits to expressing our gratitude to others.


th Visual Parables film journal 25th anniversary issueCELEBRATE WITH US! Faith-and-film columnist, journal editor and author Edward McNulty has been serving readers for a quarter of a century with Visual Parables.


Interfaith Peacemakers Wangari Maathai Ephraim Isaac and Hizkias AssefaINTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—Global peacemaker and author Daniel Buttry continues to help our readers celebrate Black History Month by looking to Africa for some truly remarkable heroes—men and women largely unknown on this side of the Atlantic.

GODSIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman always ranks among our most popular writers, because her true stories always involve signs of hope, often with unexpected twists. This week, Suzy writes about a woman, Lori Simon, who explored her vocation as an artist—and found a welcome invitation from Saks.



Cover Stories: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door


th Barbara Mahany author of Slowing TimeMEET A NEW FRIENDChicago Tribune readers have loved columns by Barbara Mahany. Now, she’s sharing her talents as a writer and spiritual guide with all of us through Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door. Our interview with Barbara explores many challenges she faced in preparing this unusual, almanac-like book.


th Interfaith Peacemakers Desmond Tutu King Negus Stephen BikoLOOKING TO AFRICA—Millions of Americans are marking Black History Month, so Daniel Buttry’s Interfaith Peacemakers looks to Africa for three heroes.

Mamas Boyz in Bullying Is No Laughing MatterAN AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERO—Did you know that Jerry Craft is one of the few successful African-American cartoonists and he also illustrates children’s books? He began with Marvel and Harvey comics, then was a top editor at Sports Illustrated for Kids.  He’s now a full-time cartoonist with King Features. Craft travels widely and encourages kids to pursue their professional dreams.


th Baby Boom expressed as a graphOUR VALUES—Each week, University of Michigan sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker, author of United America, brings readers a fascinating look at the values that shape American life. This week, he turns to research by Gallup into our biggest generation: the Baby Boomers. Right now, the first Boomers are 69, preparing for their 70th birthdays.


DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD—Our writers’ share this goal through the news they publish (and their public appearances, as well). Here are some news items that may encourage you to join in …

Picture of the Communion Service at Prism the alternative Baptist Assembly strand 2008 BlackpoolWE ARE CAREGIVERS—Last week, we revived this popular department with a column by Wayne Baker on Sparks of Kindness. This week …

DEBRA DARVICK—Author of This Jewish Life, Debra is a master of many genres. Once a month, she gives us all a multi-media boost with His Lens/My Pen. In Michigan’s Jewish News, she’s also advice columnist Dear Debra.

th-Changing-Our-Mind-cover-with-author-David-P-GusheeDAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind continues to travel across the U.S. preaching Christian-LGBT inclusion.

  • MEDIUM.COM—A wide-ranging interview with Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu is featured in, a magazine started in 2012 by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. The interview is posted in a section that explores justice issues raised since the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • ‘MORAL CONFLICT’—He weighed in himself in Baptist News Global in a column headlined, “The Painful Inevitability of Moral Conflict.”
  • ON THE MOVE—To see if he is coming to a city near you, check To schedule an appearance, contact Susan Stitt at

WhatsTheFuss idea from IFLC Detroit#WhatsTheFuss—Our publishing house is based in Michigan where we work with the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (the IFLC).

SUZY FARBMAN—Like Barbara Mahany, Suzy is a veteran journalist with an eye and ear for stories that often rank as the most popular columns in our online magazine. Last week’s GodSigns column about an unusual organ donor drew a big wave of readers. This week, Suzy writes about a woman who recalls her late Mom—with a flourish of music.


th Jennifer Aniston in movie CakeVISUAL PARABLES—Faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty covers a wide range of movies.

th My-Prius-priorityRODNEY CURTIS—He’s our expert at leaping cultural chasms with a single humorous bound as he has proven in books like Spiritual Wanderer and A ‘Cute’ Leukemia. This week, he spans old-school and cutting-edge America in …

th SUPER-BOWLFAITH GOES POP—There’s no one with a sharper eye for the intersection of Faith and Popular Culture than Ken Chitwood—who Tweeted his way through the Super Bowl. If you missed it, Ken has a recap posted this week. Keep an eye on this writer! You’ll be buzzing about the stuff he keeps finding (use #FaithGoesPop when you share Ken’s columns).



Cover Stories: Of launches … and losses …

Launching ‘Recess’ and Remembering Marcus Borg



Interfaith Peacemakers David Rosen Bruce Feiler Adel Imam and Omar SharifINSPIRE YOURSELF—The front page of Daniel Buttry’s Interfaith Peacemakers hosts more than 150 inspiring profiles of men, women and some children who risked making peace in our troubled world. This week’s new stories …



th President Obama greets congressional pages at State of the UnionIF POLLS RULED—We all know that American political parties are deeply divided. But are we, as Americans, so polarized? This week, OurValues creator Dr. Wayne Baker looks at national polling on 10 pressing issues.



th We Are Caregivers logoWE’RE BACK!—Our popular series of columns to help America’s 65 million caregivers took a break, and now returns this week with a guest column by Wayne Baker about some very practical ideas—not to mention fun ideas—to help brighten the day of the caregiver in your Mourners Kadish

  • GOD-SIGNS—Suzy Farbman, author of GodSigns, also dedicates her column this week to acts of kindness—and the remarkable story of caregiver Debbie Barton who … Well, just read this story and you’ll smile.
  • DEBRA DARVICK—If you are a caregiver in a deeply troubling situation, we urge you to read Debra Darvick’s heart-felt column “A Year of Kaddish Draws to a Close.” So many family caregivers are likely to see themselves in Debra’s journey.


th Yad-Vashem-Hall-of-Names-Victims-RemembranceALL THE HOLIDAYS—Remember our master calendar,, as you’re exploring events and milestones in coming months. This week, you’ll enjoy ..


Faith, Film, Food
and Popular Culture

th Paddington movie stillVISUAL PARABLES—Faith and film writer Edward McNulty recommends three movies this week: 2 for the whole family and 1 not for families. McNulty’s reviews are at Visual Parables.

th MissionFAITH GOES POP—This thoughtful column by Ken Chitwood could be listed with the Interfaith Peacemaker stories, above, for its focus on looking beyond the world’s horrors—to the men, women and children touched by global conflict. Please, take time to read Ken’s fresh reflections on the classic film, The Mission.

  • GET INVOLVED—FaithGoesPop echoes across the Internet. You can follow Ken on Twitter @KChitwood and, if you’re discussing these columns, add the hashtag #FaithGoesPop


  • th Edison American ExperienceHOW ‘EDISON’ CHANGED OUR WORLD—In this review, David Crumm explains why you shouldn’t miss PBS’s two-hour film about the many ways Thomas Edison transformed civilization.
  • th David Gushee Changing Our Mind headlinesBULLYING IS NO LAUGHING MATTER—Our anti-bullying comics section features one of America’s most unusual comic heroes: Rabbi Harvey of the Wild West.
  • DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD—That’s a major goal of our ReadTheSpirit publishing house and this week we want to call attention to our author David P. Gushee, will be discussing his new book Changing Our Mind at the annual pastor’s gathering for Evangelical Covenant Church Pastors in Denver, Colorado Thursday, January 29. The event title, Mission Friends 4 Inclusion is for pastors who are interested in a more inclusive future for their Church.

th potato-kugel-rebecca-siegel-e1421363358290FEED THE SPIRIT—Week after week, our food columnist Bobbie Lewis brings readers fascinating stories about the way we eat and, in the process, the ways we connect with family, community and tradition.






Cover Story: In the spirit of Dr. King …

Building the ‘Beloved Community’

Dr Martin Luther King Jr from Library of CongressDr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned a “beloved community” where all people are welcomed and treated with dignity. For King, religion was not a cause of division but an avenue to the deeper unity of love that should be expressed in justice for all. That’s an excerpt from Daniel Buttry’s profile of Dr. King in our Interfaith Peacemakers department.

Interfaith Peacemakers

Interfaith Peacemakers Tom Fox Christian De Cherge Imam Moussa al SadrIn this special week, I hope to extend our global conversation. … Peacemakers around the world continue to risk their lives and I want to remind readers of three lesser-known martyrs. That’s Daniel Buttry’s introduction to three inspiring stories featured in our Interfaith Peacemakers department:

Setting Off Sparks of Kindness

th Sparks of Kindness imageOUR VALUES—Sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker, creator of the OurValues project, looks at “Sparks of Kindness,” the many ways we can foster healthier, happier communities through the small, daily choices we make.


“Media” means connection and, at ReadTheSpirit, we are proud to work with a wide array of columnists and authors who understand that healthy media builds healthy communities. The following news items showcase recent work by some of our writers:

th Front cover MSU guide 100 Questions about Muslim AmericansJOE GRIMM & MSU ‘BIAS BUSTERS’—At the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Journalism, Joe Grimm is leading the cheering section this week for his talented crew of students known as “Bias Busters.” Joe wrote this column about the unusual project and his students’ latest book.

DAVID GUSHEE & ‘CHANGING OUR MIND’—Known as one of the nation’s leading Christian ethicists, Dr. David Gushee is helping evangelical families and congregations nationwide to welcome LGBT men and women. Many readers have shared this interview with Dr. Gushee.

  • th Changing Our Mind cover with David P GusheeNEW WHAT REPUBLICANS CAN LEARN—A front page story in the Jan. 19 NY Times offers a good reason for conservative Republicans to snap up a copy of Dr. Gushee’s book. The Times reports that the Supreme Court’s decision to settle the issue of gay marriage is a cause for celebration by the GOP, because the hot-button issue will be resolved before the next election. Throughout 2015, Dr. Gushee is making appearances across the U.S. and, in his public events, conservatives may want to listen to his story and learn about how to discuss this issue in a welcoming way with their evangelical constituencies.
  • NEW COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU—Dr. Gushee already appeared in Chicago in early January; soon, he will be speaking at an evangelical pastors conference in Denver. In February he will speak at New York’s Fordham University and Union Theological Seminary. Check out his schedule at
  • NEW LATEST HEADLINES—Here is an overview of news headlines about Dr. Gushee’s work. Among the newest headlines: Robert Cornwell’s Ponderings on a Faith Journey names Changing Our Mind one of the Best Books of 2014. In the Huffington Post, author and religious leader Steve McSwain published this story about Dr. Gushee and McSwain also posted this Vimeo video of their interview.

th United America cover by Wayne BakerWAYNE BAKER & ‘UNITED AMERICA’—Sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker is the Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. His major book, United America, is the result of his years of research into American values.

  • NEW A BOOST FOR ‘POSITIVE BUSINESS’—This week, Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh reports that Stephen Sanger, former head of General Mills, and his wife Karen are making a $20-million gift to create a new Ross School center “with the aim of developing leaders who not only succeed at business but also make a positive impact on the world and their communities.” In his work at Ross, Dr. Baker also is part of building “positive business” as one of Ross’s central pillars. Here is a series Dr. Baker wrote about “positive business.

th Fannie Stahl Brighton Beach 1935BOBBIE LEWIS &  FEED THE SPIRIT—This week, food columnist Bobbie Lewis is knitting together community memories—one knish at a time. Bobbie’s columns comprise the most deliciously inviting departments within our online magazine. One week, she’s sharing a Swedish cookie tradition; another week, she’s writing about the hospitable customs of English tea.

th Richard-Balzhiser-center-Number-28-with-teammates-on-the-University-of-Michigan-football-team-of-1953SUZY FARBMAN & GODSIGNS—Veteran journalist and author Suzy Farbman finds stories about hope and healing in unlikely places—usually involving unexpected twists and turns in the lives of men and women nationwide.

  • NEW GO BLUE—Since ReadTheSpirit’s home office is in Ann Arbor, now, you’ll forgive us for a bit of “Blue” bias. (We also are proud to work with MSU here in Michigan!) This week, in Suzy Farbman’s GodSigns column, you’ll meet a who woman fondly recalls her father from—well, from an unlikely sign of blue.




Cover Story: Mom and daughter rediscover their love


th Jane and Ellen Knuth with their book Love Will Steer Me TrueCOVER STORY—Our author interview this week welcomes Jane Knuth, the popular inspirational writer, and her daughter Ellen who have just published a memoir about their relationship called, Love Will Steer Me True. Their true story follows Ellen half way around the world and eventually to the aftermath of a nuclear disaster in Japan. Jane writes half of the book from her home in the Midwest; Ellen writes the other half of the story. But the real magic in their story is its potential to help you think in fresh ways about loved ones close to your home.


th Trickling Down ProsperityTHIS WEEK, OurValues creator (and United America author) sociologist Wayne Baker looks at some troubling implications of Americans’ financial insecurity. He asks readers: “The economy is making a comeback, but are you? How financially secure or insecure do you feel? Today, find out from a new poll what insecurity means for the political process and democracy.”


Interfaith Peacemakers Richard St Barbe Baker Laura Hobgood Oster and Holmes Rolston IIIA ‘NATURAL’ COMMUNITY—One of our goals in 2015 is publishing occasional stories of peacemakers who build healthier communities around their concern for the natural world and especially for animals. Today, Daniel Buttry’s Interfaith Peacemakers section begins with three profiles.


th Kite shop in IndiaCELEBRATE 2015—Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has completely updated our diverse 2015 “master calendar” of holidays from around the world plus milestones and anniversaries, as well. Remember the easy link: New stories this week …






Cover Story: Marc Bekoff, ‘ReWilding’ our hearts, and the Pope

Bekoff on ‘rewilding’ (and the pope’s thoughts on pets)

th Marc Bekoff Rewilding Our Hearts and a wolfWELCOME BACK scientist and writer Marc Bekoff, best known for his columns and books that share the latest news about research into animal consciousness, psychology and sociology with readers around the world.


th Ernest Hemingwy at Finca Vigia home in CubaThis week, as 2015 is beginning, 3 ReadTheSpirit writers bring you 4 stories that proclaim: “Wake up!” These eye-opening stories are:

th US Capitol dome divided left and rightOUR VALUES:

TO START the new year, sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker asks readers: “What are the striking stories from 2014 that foretell events in 2015? This week we’ll cover five of them, including politics, religion, economy and the family. What’s on your list?”


th Rosca de reyes Mexican King CakeSTART THE YEAR RIGHT! Bookmark our master calendar of holidays and festivals, and tell friends about for an entire year of fascinating stories, packed with intriguing links and tips from columnist Stephanie Fenton.


th Interfaith Peacemakers in the Middle EastYOU CAN HELP! Author and global peacemaker Daniel Buttry shares more than 100 inspiring profiles of men and women who have risked becoming “Interfaith Peacemakers.” Simply read these stories and share them with friends to encourage awareness that peace is possible.


  • th Scene from Immigation GameVISUAL PARABLES—Faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty urges readers to go see the thought-provoking and suspenseful film The Imitation Game.
  • CATCHING UP ON THE BEST MOVIES? Ed McNulty guides you through the long list of terrific films that opened recently. If you’re a film fan, you’ll enjoy reading what he has to say about: Big Eyes (5 out of 5 stars), The Babadook (4 stars), Foxcatcher (4 stars), Wild (4 stars), Annie (4 stars) and Unbroken (4 stars).






Happy New Year! What are your ‘Family Treasures’?


th united america family treasuresFor the new year, sociologist Wayne Baker is publishing two new activity guides for sparking spirited discussion in your small group or class. Last week, we published a five-part OurValues series about the first activity: “Taste of Home.” (That series of stories took readers from a traditional smokehouse in Tennessee to a seder table, and from the mountains of Afghanistan to a neighborhood dinner in the Midwest.) This week, you’re sure to enjoy a second series (accompanying a free activity guide) called: “Family Treasures” …


Interfaith Peacemakers Centennial of the Christmas Truce100 years ago, British, German and French men spontaneously laid down their guns in  The Christmas Truce across the trenches of World War I. Over the last week, our stories about that bittersweet day of hope and courage ranked as the most-read stories in our online magazine. This week, we are repeating these popular headlines. Please, continue to share them with friends:


Interfaith Peacemakers urges readers to become PeaceGivers
Got a little holiday cash you can spend to promote peace and encourage growth in your community? Please, consider …


th Times Square New Years Eve Waterford ball


th Rolo-turtles-by-Glorious-Treats-e1419022700343

Movie still from Unbroken

  • VISUAL PARABLES—Just a few days left for new subscribers to purchase a whole year of Edward McNulty’s popular monthly magazine, Visual Parables Journal, at $10 off the normal price.
  • ‘UNBROKEN’—If you see one movie this week, Ed McNulty says you should go see this true story of a survivor who ultimately forgave his captors. (4 of 5 stars)
  • HOLIDAY MOVIES? Ed McNulty has you covered with reviews of all the major holiday releases. He does not like Exodus, dismissing it as “Gladiator Meets the Burning Bush” and giving only 2.5 out of 5 stars. But Ed highly recommends Into the Woods with 4.5 stars. And, he also likes the new Hobbit (4 stars), The Homesman (4.5 stars), Wild (4 stars) and Annie (4 stars).
  • FAITH GOES POP—And for a wide range of creative columns about the convergence of faith and popular culture, check out Ken Chitwood’s Faith Goes Pop. Ken’s unusual stories consistently rank among our most popular with readers.