Ben Pratt invites you to turn this ordinary day into a pilgrimage

th Benjamin Pratt Short Stuff from a Tall Guy full cover proof


  • INTERVIEW WITH BEN PRATT—“You hold in your hands a human heart.” That’s how Day1 radio host Peter Wallace describes Benjamin Pratt’s wonderful new collection of stories, Short Stuff from a Tall Guy. For years, Ben has been one of the most popular columnists here at ReadTheSpirit magazine (and on the website of the Day1 radio network)—so you probably can guess the treat that lies ahead. Read our interview with Ben—and you’ll want to share it with friends. Go ahead—you’re free to print out this interview or even to repost it in your own newsletter. It’s sure to spark spirited conversation with friends—old … and new.


ALL THE HOLIDAYS—It’s easy to find all of the holiday columns, packed with fascinating customs, foods, crafts and stories from around the world. Just remember

th Our-Lent-2-cover-3D

  • SEASON of LENT FOR 2 BILLION—With today’s Clean Monday holiday, Eastern Orthodox Christians join Western Christians in the season of reflection and self-denial known as Lent. Western Christians began with Ash Wednesday on February 18. That brings the global total to more than 2 billion Christians in this annual “40-day” period that leads to Easter. Eastern Christians generally maintain a far more extensive discipline of fasting than their Western counterparts. They began the process of limiting their diets on February 15 with Meatfare Sunday. By today’s Clean Monday, the Orthodox diet is very limited until Pascha, or Easter.
  • READ ALONG—If you care to “read along” with this season that recalls the final days of Jesus’s life, you’ll enjoy David Crumm’s Our Lent: Things We Carry.
  • BAHA’IS PREPARE TO FAST—This week, Baha’is around the world prepare for an unusual three-day correction in their calendar that leads to the Saturday evening start of a Nineteen-Day Fast.


th A student at Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama Photo by Geoff Burns released under Creative CommonsKIDS & SUCCESS—As adults, we all want to see kids succeed—our own children, of course, as well as young people everywhere. But what are the underlying values that shape our approach to this goal? This week, sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker reports a thought-provoking series on the way we pave the road to success.



th Disney McFarland USA movie stillEAGER TO SEE SOME MOVIES? The Oscar awards touched off lots of conversations that start with: “What movies have you seen?” We boast some of the best movie coverage in the country—with a special perspective on faith and values.

th Jane Imerman with one of her cakesFEED THE SPIRIT—Food writer Bobbie Lewis introduces a guest writer this week for an inspiring story about Jane Imerman, whose family transformed a struggle with cancer into the inspiration to launch a new kind of cake company.

FAITH GOES POP—Thanks to all the readers who sent us encouraging notes about our interview with Greg Garrett on Entertaining Judgment, a spirited look at the connections between pop culture—and Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. And, we’re still encouraging you to visit Ken Chitwood’s Faith Goes Pop website to chime in on your own “angel” or “demon” sightings.


GOOD MEDIA builds good community. That’s a value we share at ReadTheSpirit. This week …

Interfaith Peacemaker heroes from AfricaINTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—Global peacemaker Daniel Buttry continues his series of heroes from Africa to mark Black History Month. All three are dynamic young men whose work will inspire you: Lance Muteyo from Zimbabwe, Anthony Fabrice Kettemallet from Central African Republic, and Boaz Kiebarak from Kenya.

BULLYING IS NO LAUGHING MATTER—More and more comic artists are joining the anti-bullying chorus. Our weekly comic section features Cody the Cavalier this week. But you’ll want to start at the front page of this colorful comics section to discover all of the free resources, including activity guides and help for parents and educators.

DAVID GUSHEE CROSSES THE U.S.—Leading evangelical and pro-LGBT Christian ethicist, Dr. David P. Gushee, will be a featured speaker at Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus on Thursday, February 26th and at Union Theological Seminary on Friday, February 27th.


Cover Story: We sure love our angels and demons


Greg Garrett and his Entertaining JudgmentAN ENTERTAINING AFTERLIFE—Greg Garrett returns for an interview on his new book about Americans’ love affair with the denizens of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. It’s called Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination. In Greg’s tour of cosmic realms, you’ll meet Gandalf, Zombies, Batman, Katniss and the entire cast of Lost. Come along with us! We’ve rarely published such a wide-ranging interview.


Ashes on a forehead and Our Lent by David CrummOUR LENT—It’s time to order your copy of Our Lent: Things We Carry, an inspirational pilgrimage through Lent with ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. These 40 stories connect Jesus’s final journey with events in our world, today.


GOOD media builds good community. That’s a goal shared by our community of writers, scholars, peace activists and authors.

th 3 Generations of Hands by Susan StittWE ARE CAREGIVERS—Popular author and speaker Benjamin Pratt returns with “Hands,” a moving column on the timeless power of our hands to establish healthy relationships.

THIRD WAY NEWSLETTER—Thanks to readers who sent us encouraging notes about our cover story last week on the launch of the Third Way Newsletter, a national campaign by evangelical leaders to welcome gay and lesbian men and women into their congregations. If you missed it last week, visit the Newsletter website and sign up for their free email updates.

DAVID GUSHEE—A major figure in this campaign is Dr. David Gushee, author of Changing Our Mind. Gushee is continuing a nationwide tour this week at the Together in This event at Eastlake Community Church in Bothell, Washington on Saturday, February 21. Sharing the platform with Gushee are Matthew Vines and Stan Mitchell. On February 22, Gushee will speak at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.

Interfaith Peacemakers Leymah Gbowe Wilson Gathungu Ashafa and WuyeINTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—Author and international peacemaker Daniel Buttry continues to publish an inspiring series of stories from Africa, part of our special emphasis on Black History Month. New this week are profiles of …

BULLYING IS NO LAUGHING MATTER—In our anti-bullying comic section, this week, we are showcasing a colorful cartoon by Tobias Neal from his series The Sword. Check out that “comic of the week” and our entire array of comic activity guides.


th Wellbee poster from 1960sOUR-VALUES—This week, sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker explores changing American attitudes about vaccination, which once was such a successful campaign that measles was all but eliminated in the U.S. Now, it’s back in headlines and Americans are debating whether vaccines should be required.




Two Days, One NightVISUAL PARABLES—This week, faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty urges viewers to seek out a French-language film, Two Days, One Night, about a woman at risk of losing the blue-collar job on which her family depends. (5 out of 5 stars) This week, Ed also recommends:



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 …