Cover Story: Of division—and surprising unity!

MUCH DIVIDES US …
… MORE UNITES US

United-America-update-book-120x180COVER STORY—Ever since Dr. Wayne Baker published United America, detailing 10 core values shared by Americans, we need to keep reminding ourselves what his research shows us: Unity is possible! In 2016, voices of division are louder than ever—and tragic incidents of violence break out every day.

This week, we ask readers to consider two very personal columns. Both of these stories are asking: Can we talk about our divisions? And, where are signs of unity emerging around us every day?

Bullet holes (2)First, author and columnist Rodney Curtis writes about the unending cycle of gun violence in America. Dangerous conflicts are real; but solutions seem elusive. Rodney simply shares from his heart about his family’s brushes with gun violence—and calls all of us to renewed discussion about solutions. However you feel about guns and regulation of gun ownership, read Rodney’s call to a fresh discussion. Whatever your point of view, conversation is possible.

Julia and Erik Baker wedding in Georgia (1)Second, Editor David Crumm writes about the inspiration of a wedding that involved several of the staff members at our publishing house. Ironically, the wedding took place in tiny, historic Senoia, Georgia—the home of the AMC hit series Walking Dead. This personal column reminds us that, in the midst of anxiety, anger and violence, we need to celebrate the inspiring signs of unity unfolding all around us.

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Detroit_radio_pioneer_Elizabeth_Weiss__‘woman_of_1_000_voices_’_dies_at_90 (1)

GENERATION
TO
GENERATION

GODSIGNS—When the “Woman of 1,000 Voices” died, her family focused on the memories they would carry of this amazing “grandma” who had such a vibrant career as a performer. How would this woman be remembered? Through stories, of course. Then, her granddaughter happened to examine a drawing hanging on a wall and … that’s the GodSign in this week’s column from Suzy Farbman.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

Ruth-gleaning (1)ANCIENT HARVEST FESTIVAL—Jewish communities around the world mark Shavuot, an ancient tradition marking a grain harvest in Israel. More importantly, Shavuot marks the occasion where a wandering tribe became a nation governed by God’s commandments. FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis writes about the holiday—and includes a recipe for broccoli-cheese salad.

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Juneteenth celebrants singing (1)JUNETEENTH—Now, the holiday marking the end of slavery in the U.S. is officially known as Juneteenth Independence Day. The holiday began in Texas, where U.S. military finally enforced the Emancipation Proclamation months after the end of the war. Today, the holiday has spread nationwide.

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Fathers Day photo of father and son with cars (1)PLAN NOW FOR FATHER’S DAY! Read Stephanie Fenton’s column on the holiday and you’ll find the roots of this century-old observance began in church—following the model of Mother’s Day, which also began in church. 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Ramadan is coming! And inspiring news from Michigan!

RAMADAN IS COMING …

three-dates for breaking the fast in Ramadan (1)FASTING & REFLECTIONNearly one quarter of Earth’s population is called to a month of fasting, starting on or around Monday June 6. This season of self-denial, spiritual reflection and study of the Quran is an enormous challenge for the faithful this year—because the lunar cycles have moved the holy month squarely into the longest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Among the most beloved tastes during Ramadan are dried dates—often the first bites when the sun finally sets and evening festivities begin with family and friends.

… AND INSPIRING NEWS!

Authors of ACCESS to School from left Nahed Alkashbari Amanda Morgan Anisa Sahoubah and Breanne Wainright (1)ACCESS to SCHOOL—National news from Michigan, this week: We’re proud to report on the launch of a new book about a talented team of educators from the Arab-American nonprofit ACCESS who are jump-starting the education of recent immigrants in a low-income Detroit neighborhood. Our story today explains why this news touches on our hotly debated attitudes toward immigration, this year, and on a centuries-old heritage of cross-cultural education.

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AMERICAN DREAMS
& GLOBAL CULTURE

Punit Patel (2)GOD SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the long journey of Punit Patel, who grew up in an Indian family based in Kenya. Breaking out of his own family’s expectations for his life, he migrated to the U.S. and now is contributing to global diversity in American design.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! Do you know the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.? As our column by Stephanie Fenton points out, the official history keeps evolving with competing claims. We also remind readers not to miss the May 29 national concert; we’ve got a link to the concert website and details of the stars appearing this year.

Cheese blintzes for Shavuot (1)

ANCIENT HARVEST FESTIVAL—Jewish communities around the world mark Shavuot later this week, an ancient tradition marking a grain harvest in Israel. But there’s a lot more to Shavuot than that. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports, and provides helpful links for tasty Shavuot recipes.

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Vernors ad with the mascot Woody (1)VERNORS at 150!

FEED THE SPIRIT—Columnist Bobbie Lewis is based in Michigan, so she’s perfectly poised to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that distinctively oak-aged ginger ale known as Vernors. Well, she explains, it’s at least the 150th birthday according to company lore (which includes the bearded gnome Woody). As always, Bobbie also serves up a delicious recipe—in this case Vernors chicken, perfect for a summer picnic!

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Religious game changers

EVANGELICAL PROPHET OF LGBT INCLUSION

Ken Wilson of A Letter to My Congregation in the newsSAY WHAT!?!
Other “Evangelicals” may decline to call the Rev. Ken Wilson a proper member of their flock, these days. But, he has always been—and continues to be—a true follower of Jesus with a deep evangelical view of scripture and ministry. This week, Ken is publishing the 2nd Edition of his hugely influential book, A Letter to My Congregation. In this new and expanded version of his book, he further clarifies his call for full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians—and he introduces his role in a new religious movement called: Blue Ocean. If you care about inclusion—you’ll want to read this story.

ROMAN CATHOLIC HIP HOP SEMINARIAN

communion_hip_hop_i_believe_jesus_frees_us_-_Google_SearchSAY WHAT!?!
No kidding! If all goes well with his process of discernment at a Florida seminary, Alvaro Vega will become a priest—with a unique ministry: hip-hop hymns. Well, Vega doesn’t officially call them hymns when he loads them up on YouTube and other popular music platforms. But, for all practical purposes, he writes and performs inspiring and spiritually evocative songs that invite you to sing along after just a single hearing. Among his most popular tunes so far? Smile! God loves ya my child! Now, Vega is teaming up with author Chris Stepien for a special hip hop number about the boyhood of Jesus.

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MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

Vernors ad with the mascot Woody (1)VERNORS at 150!

FEED THE SPIRIT—Columnist Bobbie Lewis is based in Michigan, so she’s perfectly poised to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that distinctively oak-aged ginger ale known as Vernors. Well, she explains, it’s at least the 150th birthday according to company lore (which includes the bearded gnome Woody). As always, Bobbie also serves up a delicious recipe—in this case Vernors chicken, perfect for a summer picnic!

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WINNING IN GOLF—AND CANCER

Suzy Farbman with friends and cash (1)GOD SIGNS—You can’t read a Suzy Farbman column and not feel a little better by the end of her story. And, this week, as spring brings millions of Americans out onto the golf course—she has a real-life story about an unexpected win in a golf tournament … but, more importantly, a win against cancer.

 

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

.National Memorial Day Concert th

MEMORIAL DAY—Do you know the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.? As our column by Stephanie Fenton points out, the official history keeps evolving with competing claims. We also remind readers not to miss the May 29 national concert; we’ve got a link to the concert website and details of the stars appearing this year.

 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Global spiritual creativity celebrating our diversity

IN OUR DIFFERENCES: ARE WE FRIENDS OR ENEMIES?
Hindu devotees at the Kumbh fair (1)

GLOBAL CREATIVITY—The defining question of our era is this: As our global cultural diversity surfaces with all of its sound and color and self expression, will we become friends or enemies?
This weekReadTheSpirit magazine features stories celebrating some remarkable signs of spiritual creativity. We start with Indian journalist Bhavia Srivastava’s coverage of the world’s largest peaceful gathering—the latest in the cycle of Kumbh Mela festivals.

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Home_-_The_Interfaith_ObserverTHE INTERFAITH OBSERVER—Next, we recommend to readers who care about interfaith cooperation: Please check out the latest issue of the long-running monthly newsletter The Interfaith ObserverIn particular, we recommend a profile (prepared by Katherine Marshall of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs) of the catalytic figure: Bud Heckman. Behind the scenes, Heckman has done more to connect interfaith organizations than anyone else in the U.S.

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prayer-politiks-logo-1xRETHINKING ‘JUST WAR’—We also recommend a column by author and long-time peace activist Ken Sehested analyzing the recent Vatican milestone: a global conference on rethinking the traditional “just war” rationale. Ken writes: “What sets this particular conference apart was its urging the world’s largest unified-leadership religious body—within Vatican walls and with the assent of one Vatican agency—to no longer use or teach just war theory.

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United Methodist General Conference in Portland Oregon May 2016 thTHE LANGUAGE OF OUR HEARTS—Among media colleagues around the world, one of the most common issues arising in 2016 is: language. English is a common mode of communication around our planet—but we rarely pause to ponder the wondrous beauty of the world’s diverse tongues. A clergy delegate to the worldwide United Methodist General Conference, now meeting in Oregon, reflects on this challenge.

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Burton and Suzy Farbman at the 40th event (1)40 YEARS OF DEVELOPMENTGodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman shares a personal story this week about an event to celebrate 40 years of her family’s collective efforts to develop sites around southeast Michigan.

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A stroll through Dearborn Fresh in Dearborn Michigan (1)TASTE DIVERSITYBobbie Lewis, our FeedTheSpirit columnist, invites us all to stroll with her through one of America’s great centers of Arab-American cuisine: Dearborn, Michigan. Bobbie and her husband signed up for a special walking—and tasting—tour of the ever-expanding Dearborn food scene. And, she also shares a delightful recipe for a savory, vegetarian stew.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

.National Memorial Day Concert th

MEMORIAL DAY—Do you know the history of Memorial Day in the U.S.? As our column by Stephanie Fenton points out, the official history keeps evolving with competing claims. We also remind readers not to miss the May 29 national concert; we’ve got a link to the concert website and details of the stars appearing this year.

 

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

Francofonia (1)LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Invite your children to care for God’s creation

HUMANE SOCIETY OFFERS READY-TO-USE LESSONS

Humane Society of the United States curriculum for children on caring for animals 1COVER STORY—The Humane Society of the United States—founded in 1954 and now comprised of 11 million members—understands the deep connection between faith and compassion for the world’s population of humans and non-human creatures. New this spring, HSUS is offering a free set of lesson plans to help children begin to build their own caring connection between our faith—and our concern for life on Planet Earth. Today, start by reading this story about the new offering from HSUS. Use it yourself or share this news with parents or educators you know.

ALSO—The HSUS has published a book-length overview of teachings about care for living things issued by many major religious groups. Their book is called, Every Living Thing. This spring, the book has been recommended by a noted vegetarian journal. So, you’ll also want to read this story that shares news about this latest recommendation of the HSUS book.

 

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EXPAND YOUR WORLD:
FEED YOUR SPIRIT

A stroll through Dearborn Fresh in Dearborn Michigan (1)DISCOVER AMERICA’S DIVERSE FLAVORS—Our FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis invites us all,  this week, to stroll with her through one of America’s great centers of Arab-American cuisine: Dearborn, Michigan. Bobbie and her husband signed up for a special walking—and tasting—tour of the ever-expanding Dearborn food scene. And, she also shares a delightful recipe for a savory, vegetarian stew.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Israel-Yom-Haatzmaut-Independence-Day (1)Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

TWO ISRAELI HOLIDAYS—Jewish communities around the world, this week, will be marking a day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives defending Israel—as well as Israel’s independence day. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on these back-to-back observances with links to additional inspirational readings.

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Pentecost-Altar (1)PENTECOST—The Eastern and Western branches of Christianity are separated by about a month this year, due to traditional differences in the way Christian leaders mark the date of Easter on the calendar. However, for the majority of churches across the U.S., Sunday May 15 is Pentecost Sunday, sometimes referred to simply as “the birthday of the church.” Stephanie Fenton has the story.

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Lilacs in the dooryard bloomWHEN LILACS BLOOM—We never need an excuse to invoke the spirit of Walt Whitman and Abe Lincoln in the pages of ReadTheSpirit. Of all the topics we have explored through the past decade, coverage of Lincoln in general draws the most readers—thousands upon thousands. So, if you are like us in our Michigan home office, and lilacs once again are blooming in your “dooryard,” you may want to revisit our page devoted to Whitman’s verse on Lincoln. Come on. Share this with a friend.

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DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

Dr Wayne Baker at UofM gives a TEDx talk about generalized resciprocity (1)Since ReadTheSpirit magazine was founded a decade ago, the single most popular writer has been Dr. Wayne Baker, creator of the daily OurValues series that published 2,000 columns on American values before it concluded in late 2015. This story explains what Dr. Baker has been doing since then—including news of a powerful new App he and his wife are offering through their leadership-training company. Plus, we’ve got a brand-new TEDx video of Baker talking about the universal value best known by the phrase: “Pay it forward!

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

Ed McNulty Visual Parables Journal May 2016 issue (1)LOVE MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: www.VisualParables.org 
In addition, consider subscribing to the one service Ed sells to support his work: the long-running Visual Parables Journal, which provides complete study guides for new films in each monthly issue. The May 2016 issue is now available.
Among Ed’s recent free reviews are …

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Cover Story: Dr. Wayne Baker invites you to ‘Pay it forward!’

Mom-Mothers-Day (1)Happy Mother’s Day!

A STORY OF FAITH—Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton wishes our readers “Happy Mother’s Day!” on behalf of all of us here at ReadTheSpirit magazine. Her column describes the origins and key themes of this holiday that is celebrated coast to coast this weekend.

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OUR VALUES EXPERT SEEKS EARLY APP-DOPTERS

Dr Wayne Baker at UofM gives a TEDx talk about generalized resciprocity (1) COVER STORY: Since ReadTheSpirit magazine was founded a decade ago, the single most popular writer has been Dr. Wayne Baker, creator of the daily OurValues series that published 2,000 columns on American values before it concluded in late 2015. This week‘s cover story explains what Dr. Baker has been doing since then—including news of a powerful new App he and his wife are offering through their leadership-training company, founded on the value of “generalized reciprocity.” Plus, we’ve got a brand-new TEDx video of Baker talking about the universal value best known by the phrase: “Pay it forward!

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LOOKING FORWARD IN … MEDIA

ReadTheSpirit bookstore onlineWHY WE STILL PRINT BOOKS ON PAPER—The online magazine you are reading, founded in 2007, is the flagship of the publishing house we also started nearly a decade ago. We publish books in both e-editions and ink-on-paper books, which may seem “retro” to some readers. In fact, our strategy of publishing both digitally and on paper is perfectly poised for today’s publishing industry where … (believe it or not) paper is king. Read the whole story in this latest Creative Connections column …

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REMEMBERING DANIEL BERRIGAN

Interfaith Peacemakers urges readers to become PeaceGivers‘INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS’—With the news that 94-year-old Daniel Berrigan has died, many of us want to revisit his life and witness to the world. On Sunday, the New York Times devoted an entire page to his life. Our recommendation is: If you haven’t already ordered a copy of Daniel Buttry’s Blessed Are the Peacemakers, then do so in remembrance of this giant who we lost on Saturday. Buttry’s book has a chapter about the Berrigan brothers and their legacy. More importantly, Buttry’s book places them in the context of dozens of men and women around the world who shared his passion for peace. (Warning: Reading these inspiring stories may be dangerous to an otherwise safe life—you may feel compelled to go out and do likewise.)

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A LEGACY OF SERVICE

Harry Weinsaft (1)GOD SIGNS—This week, as we ponder the legacies of those who struggle for justice in our world, Suzy Farbman brings us the story of Harry Weinsaft—and his family. No, Harry isn’t as famous as the Berrigan brothers. And that’s precisely the point. Even though you haven’t heard of him before today, Weinsaft truly did live a remarkable life. He survived the Holocaust by coming to the U.S. and he lived to establish a tradition of public service in his American-born family.

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HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL …

__Hope front THEN back (2)Each year as spring sweeps across america, our magazine takes readers on a spiritual pilgrimage to … the ballpark. So, once again, we’ve got some wonderful baseball news. Longtime columnist and author Rodney Curtis has published a new novel, called Hope’s Diamond. Then, Benjamin Pratt adds this delightful little memory from his own years playing the gameAnd, you may enjoy the OurValues series that started our baseball tradition: Terry Gallagher wrote this creative, five-part look at “Baseball Values.Please, enjoy!

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

th Yom HaShoah March-of-the-Living-AuschwitzYOM HASHOAH

NEVER FORGET—Inaugurated in 1953 in Israel, this is now one of two international days of remembrance of the Shoah each year. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton writes about the observance and “in the news,” she highlights a column by Jeff Jacobi about the challenge to keep this remembrance alive.

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Buraq from the Night Journey of the Prophet Muhammad (1)LAILAT AL MIRAJ

This week, Muslims around the world also remember a sacred journey by the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims believe connected him other great prophets and further revealed God’s intentions for Islam. It’s sometimes referred to as “the night journey” and Stephanie Fenton reports on this tradition.

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

I Saw the Light movie still (2)TALKING ABOUT MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website by remembering the simple Web address: www.VisualParables.org 

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Cover Story: Spiritual renewal through … baseball

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL …

__Hope front THEN back (2)COVER STORY—Each year as spring sweeps across america, our magazine takes readers on a spiritual pilgrimage to … the ballpark. So, once again, we’ve got some wonderful baseball news. Longtime columnist and author Rodney Curtis has published a new book, Hope’s Diamond, so we invited another of our columnists Benjamin Pratt to review this funny, hope-filled novel. How fun is this new book?

Well, it inspired Ben to add this delightful little memory from his own years playing the game.

tom hanks and virginia madsen in a league of their own (1)Who started this annual tradition in our magazine? Yet another popular columnist Terry Gallagher, back in 2012, realized that there simply wasn’t enough baseball in ReadTheSpirit. Terry wrote this creative, five-part look at “Baseball Values” that continues to draw readers every year. If you haven’t seen Terry’s original series: Please, enjoy!

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HOPE COMES IN MANY FORMS

Destry Ramey and Feather (2)PEOPLE (AND DOGS) WE LOVE—This week, GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman tells the story of Destry Ramey—a cancer survivor and author of children’s books. Destry’s love of family (and dogs, as well) have kept her going through one battle with cancer after another. She has just published her latest book about Feather, the dog she’s holding in this photograph.

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DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

2016 03 21 MSU Bias Busters team (1)CONGRATULATIONS MSU BIAS BUSTERS!

AND THE RABBI SAYS—Huffington Post Jewish columnist Rabbi Jason Miller wrote a glowing recommendation of Michigan State University’s latest book, 100 Questions and Answers about American JewsMiller called the new book “an ideal guide for the perplexed,” and he described the questions as common issues that he frequently hears from people wanting to learn more about Judaism.

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CONGRATULATIONS EILEEN FLANAGAN!

th Renewable cover and Quaker author Eileen FlanaganHONORS FOR RENEWABLEOur readers have been following the work of Quaker writer Eileen Flanagan for a number of years. In 2015, we featured this interview with Eileen about her book, Renewable. This spring, honors are arriving for books published in 2015—and Eileen has won a Silver Nautilus Award. Established in 1998, the Nautilus awards honor books that encourage reflection on social, environmental and justice issues. This spring, we’ve heard from lots of readers who are inspired by Diana Butler Bass’s new Grounded. If you love Grounded, then you’ll also be inspired by Renewable.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Don’t miss a date! Remember www.InterfaithHolidays.org, our master calendar.

PASSOVER

PASSOVER CONTINUESHolidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the ancient Jewish observance that runs until sundown on April 30.

gefilte fish with carrots (1)FEED THE SPIRIT—Our FeedTheSpirit host Bobbie Lewis brings us a guest column by Rabbi Eli Finkelman. For Passover, Eli writes about his family’s tradition of gefilte fish—and he serves up a recipe. It’s a challenge: Can you find 2 pounds of fresh carp?

This year, Bobbie also has published other pre-Passover columns: First, she shared a guest viewpoint from Jewish educator Rebecca Starr. Rebecca’s column comes with a recipe for vegetable kugel. Second, Bobbie brought us a new twist to charoset, the apple-and-nut mixture meant to evoke the mortar used in ancient Egypt.

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19th century Russian icon of the resurrection (1)EASTER

EASTERN ORTHODOX—Easter is a distant memory for the majority of the world’s Christians, but hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians still are in the midst of the Lenten season. They will mark Easter on May 1 this year.

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FILM, FAITH & CULTURE

TALKING ABOUT MOVIES? Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website by remembering the simple Web address: www.VisualParables.org And, please consider subscribing to Visual Parables Journal, used by individuals, teachers, group leaders and clergy who want to spark discussion with current films. The April 2016 issue is new this week, packed with complete study guides. Then, among Ed’s recent free movie reviews, you’ll find …

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