Cover Story: Plan ahead for debut of Martin Luther mini-series

‘WE HAVEN’T SEEN TIMES LIKE THESE …’

COVER STORY—Through 10 years and thousands of columns, this online magazine has celebrated the central innovation of the Reformation: Placing inspirational media in the hands of ordinary people. Now, as the “official” 500-year anniversary of the Reformation is approaching, we are highlighting special opportunities like the debut of PBS’s two-hour docudrama on the life of Martin Luther.

Today, our “cover story” is an overview of fascinating resources on Martin Luther. You’ll find a link to Ed McNulty’s in-depth review of the mini-series; a 2-minute preview from PBS that provides a glimpse of the imagery and style of this three-night event; a look at how these themes have shaped this online magazine over the past decade; and additional links to other international websites about the anniversary.

We are publishing this coverage more than a week before the September 12, 2017, debut of the PBS series. As Ed McNulty suggests in his review, you may want to organize a small group to discuss this TV series.

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HAPPY LABOR DAY!
AND OTHER HOLIDAYS

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

WHY IT MATTERS—This week, Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton writes: “Consider giving Labor Day the merit it really deserves: a look at the history and relevance of labor in the lives of American workers. Labor Day is the result of the long struggle for recognition by the American labor movement. The first Labor Day celebration, celebrated in 1882 in New York City, attracted more than 10,000 workers who marched through the streets.” This week’s Holidays & Festivals column also includes links to three of the historic Catholic teaching documents about the rights of workers.

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NATIVITY OF MARY—One of the ancient festivals in Christendom that is observed in both Eastern and Western branches on the same day is this celebration of Mary’s birth. Stephanie has the story about this holiday. Did you know that there are only three figures in Christianity celebrated each year on both the anniversaries of their births and their deaths?

 

 

 

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SUNNY SIDE
OF LIFE

GOD SIGNS—This week, columnist Suzy Farbman brings us a delightful story of a couple in their 90s with a resilient gift for seeing the good humor in life. Whatever disabilities they faced, Jane and Lew find a way to confront them together, remembering life’s blessings along the way. Enjoy their story!

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‘TINY HOMES’
HUGE HOPES

DON’T MISS this amazing story about the grand-new community Detroiters are building at the 50th anniversary of America’s worst urban rebellion! And, stay tuned to our online magazine, because there’s also a full-color book coming about the project.

PBS News Hour just reported an in-depth story from this emerging neighborhood that we are describing as a “utopian community.” In fact, you can watch that short PBS video as a part of our story. Earlier, a Facebook news feed posted its own video report—which already has been viewed by 34 million people! (And, we’ve got a link to that video, as well.)

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FAITH & FILM

Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham in Wind River

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is 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: What is Detroit building now? A tiny, utopian community!

NOT JUST LITTLE HOUSES—
THESE ARE ‘TINY HOMES’

COVER STORY—If you visit our online magazine each week for good news about people of faith making the world a better place—then, this week, we’ve got an amazing story to share! And, stay tuned, because there’s also a full-color book coming about the brand-new community Detroiters are building at the 50th anniversary of one of America’s worst urban rebellions.

PBS News Hour just reported an in-depth story from this emerging neighborhood that we are describing as a “utopian community” in today’s story. In fact, you can watch that short PBS video as a part of our story. Earlier, a Facebook news feed posted its own video report—which already has been viewed by 34 million people! (And, we’ve got a link to that video, as well.)

In this deeply disturbing summer of conflict, please read this week’s story and share the news with friends. They’ll be glad you did! And simply by “talking up” what’s happening in Detroit you’ll be helping to make this visionary idea take shape in our world.

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ANOTHER DETROIT ORIGINAL!

‘HOPE FOR THE CITY’—Thanks to columnist Stephanie Fenton for spotting this news item from the Plymouth Library’s summer reading program! Because librarians across Michigan are recommending books that relate to the 50-year anniversary of Detroit’s rebellion—the main library in this historic, suburban city directed readers to Jack Kresnak’s Hope for the City. (That’s the cover of Jack’s book near the pinnacle of the library’s main bulletin board promoting the reading campaign, a photo sent to us by Stephanie.)

Jack’s biography of the late Father Cunningham—an urban pioneer in helping to empower poor people—covers a broad spectrum of Detroit history. However, the book includes dramatic scenes during and after the Detroit rebellion, which led to an occupation by the U.S. Army and National Guard and resulted in 43 deaths. Cunningham’s vision of giving poor people a pathway out of poverty was shaped by the destructive forces he witnessed in the summer of 1967.

Care to read more? This is another book from Detroit’s Cass Community Publishing, so please visit the Cass online catalog. The book also is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble—but buying your copy via the Cass website directly contributes to this ongoing work in Detroit.

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BIG HAT,
BIG LIFE,
BIG WISDOM

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GAG, PEP & ICE—This week, GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman brings us the remarkable story of Natalie Myerson who is approaching the century mark with wit and some wisdom well worth considering. She has acronyms for her core values: GAG, PEP & ICE. Enjoy!

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HOLIDAYS!

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

 

THE HAJJ—Muslim men and women around the world are about to perform the annual rites of the Hajj in Mecca. Stephanie Fenton has the whole story.

THE EID al—ADHA—One of two great feasts in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha is a part of the centuries-old pilgrimage narrative. Stephanie has the latest news on the 2017 holiday from around the world.

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FAITH & FILM

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is 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: What would Abraham Lincoln say now?

SPIRITUAL LIFE OF LINCOLN

A UNIFIER—Thanks to so many readers who sent us words of encouragement and thanks in recent days for our weekly stories lifting up truth and love—rather than the lies and hate that seem to be so common these days. (And, yes, those who recall the late visionary Vaclav Havel know that “Truth and Love will conquer Lies and Hate!” was Havel’s guiding principle in peaceful change.)

This week, like so many Americans in trying times, we turn to a figure who has graced the pages of ReadTheSpirit more than four-score times over the past decade—and has drawn more readers than any other subject we have ever covered. Of course, that’s Abe Lincoln. And, once again, we have fresh encouragement from our long-time Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer. This week, Duncan writes to us:

Click this image to read about Lincoln’s vision for America.

“Calling Americans back to Lincoln’s powerful voice will inevitably bring people to words like these: Our Founders ‘meant to set up a standard maxim for free society … augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors, everywhere.’ What’s especially notable about that quote from Lincoln is the date: June 26, 1857! Lincoln was just getting started when he made that declaration! By the time he became, in Walt Whitman’s words, our first Great Martyr Chief, Lincoln had made it clear that America was no longer going to be just a nation for white people. His April 9, 1865, suggestion that Blacks might vote in Louisiana brought John Wilkes Booth’s blood to a boil. Booth believed ‘the country was formed for the white, not the black man.’ Over the past decade, ReadTheSpirit has published a considerable number of columns about the moral and spiritual life of Abraham Lincoln. Read on! Let Lincoln stir you again!”

There are several places to start:

START WITH LINCOLN’S VALUES—Duncan urged us to publish a front-page link to a column, headlined Abraham Lincoln and Visions of a ‘United America.‘ Here’s what stunned us at the home office as we drew that column from our online archives. We published this column more than three years ago! But, read Duncan’s overview of Lincoln’s values and you’ll think he wrote it this week. This look at Lincoln’s moral life demonstrates the timeless nature of the 16th president’s wisdom.

OVERALL INDEX TO LINCOLN—Our authors have written so much on Lincoln over the years that we also published this convenient index to the most popular columns.

QUIET FIRE—Care to listen to Duncan on Lincoln? He produces Quiet Fire, a long-running series of five-minute radio reflections on Lincoln, sponsored by WERU in Maine. Here is the archive of those thought-provoking recordings. (And stay tuned! Duncan is working on a day-by-day book, based on the Quiet Fire series.)

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Click on this image to visit EventBrite and sign up.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

SIGN UP NOW—New York City-based peacemaker Samir Selmanovic—whose work we have featured in the pages of ReadTheSpirit over the years—sends us all an open invitation to sign up now for a live one-hour conversation with Brian McLaren at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday August 22. TO SIGN UP: Click on this link to a special EventBrite web page Samir has set up for the event. Then follow the instructions.

Through publishing, organizing events, consulting with community leaders—and a host of other efforts—Samir is a truly heroic figure in the ongoing movement to encourage healthy interfaith and cross-cultural relationships around the world. That’s why Samir’s telephone call this week to our home office was filled with emotion and urgency.

“So much is happening in our country and our world right now that, one day, we feel like falling to the ground in despair—then, the next day, we know we must get up again and continue to work for peace and a better world. We must look for clear signs of hope,” Samir said. “It is important that we help people to process all of these painful things that are happening. That’s why I organized this event with Brian on Tuesday evening. I hope that people will join us. It’s one small thing we can do to help us find hope again.”

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ANOTHER TRUE AMERICAN HERO

OUT OF THIS WORLD! In her weekly series of true stories about remarkable men and women, Suzy Farbman brings us the story of Pete and Nancy Conrad. Decades ago, Americans watched Pete’s amazing feats as an astronaut. Although he died in a tragic accident in 1999, Nancy has expanded on his vocational passion in many ways. This is truly a “good news” story about American innovation.

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HONORING OUR LOVED ONES

RODNEY CURTIS—This week, writer-photographer Rodney Curtis tells the inspiring story of his family’s way of honoring the lives of two relatives who loved Michigan’s waterways.

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HOLIDAYS!

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

 

THE HAJJ—Muslim men and women around the world are already converging on Mecca for the annual pilgrimage. The Islamic lunar calendar moves the official dates each year and, in 2017, the focus is on sunset August 30. The annual “Eid” feast follows soon after the start of the actual Hajj. Stephanie Fenton has the whole story.

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FAITH & FILM

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is 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: Finding Solace in the Midst of Grief—and Anger

GRIEVING? LISTEN TO THIS!

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COVER STORY—Start your week with a short conversation between nationally known grief counselor Mitch Carmody and the creators of the remarkable new picture book: Never Long Enough. You don’t even need to leave the pages of our online magazine. We have a video clip of that interview, featuring audio and imagery, posted with an inspiring summary of the story.

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ANGRY? TELL YOUR STORY OF HOPE!

WHAT ARE YOU TELLING THE WORLD? News events moved so rapidly this week—from threats of global nuclear war to deaths sparked by violent right-wing activists in Charlottesville, Virginia. We know that many of our readers look to ReadTheSpirit magazine for hope each week. And, our staff feels the same way: We look to you, our community of readers, to share those stories with us. On Sunday morning, Editor David Crumm was struck by the passionate preaching of the staff at Clarkston United Methodist Church in Michigan. Perhaps words from that service may help you, too.

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WE ARE UNITED—Do you think that Americans are hopelessly divided? Do you think nothing can bring us together? Well, that “story” of irreconcilable division is false. While many thorny political issues do divide us, the fact is that many values unite Americans. That’s not simply a matter of faith. That’s based on years of evidence from nationwide surveys conducted through the University of Michigan. The basic findings are presented by sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker in United America, with this lengthy subtitle: The Surprising Truth about American Values, American Identity and the 10 Beliefs that a Large Majority of Americans Hold Dear.

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A PARENT’S GRIEF—
A STORY TOLD IN LETTERS

GOD SIGNS—This week’s themes come together in one family’s story, as told by columnist Suzy Farbman in GodSigns. Grief and anger over the sudden loss of a young son became a devastating wave of emotions that led the family’s patriarch, Marc Schupan, to begin writing letters. And to keep writing letters. In an ongoing way, that storytelling in letter form has helped to keep positive, healing memories alive.

 

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HOLIDAYS!

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

 

KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI—Hindus around the world celebrate Krishna’s birthday, also known as Janmashtami. In Stephanie Fenton’s column, she explains: “An observance that lasts eight days in some regions, Krishna Janmashtami honors the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.”

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HONORING MARY—In the Catholic world, August 15 marks the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Eastern Christianity, it’s called the Dormition of the Theotokos. The event remembered is the same: Mary, the mother of Jesus, taken up into Heaven. Stephanie Fenton explains the traditions around this ancient Christian festival.

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PARYSHAN PARVA—Forgiveness plays a central role in many world religions, but for Jains, it’s the focus of the most important festival each year. This spiritually intense period is known as Paryushan Parva, or Paryushana.

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FAITH & FILM

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is 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: Chalice Press knows ‘The Stakes Is High’ for people of faith

COVER STORY—The publishing arm of one of America’s oldest Protestant denominations is producing exciting new books that range from an angry, prophetic call to action over racism and injustice—to a warm-hearted embrace of young families trying to help children discover the spiritual wonders in daily life. And, a word of warning: A few of the new books from Chalice Press may seem downright dangerous if you carry them around in traditionalist congregations.

In our overview of this remarkable publishing house, we explain the compelling vision behind these books—and why that vision is making the world a better place. At ReadTheSpirit, we find that Chalice’s mission echoes a kindred spirit—and we quote from those inspiring principles.  This week, you’re likely to find a couple of books you’ll want to order—plus there’s a link to a special sale. So, please, read our new Cover Story about Chalice Press and share this news with your friends.

RESPONDING TO TRUMP—In the middle of Stakes Is High, a short chapter zeroes in on the challenge of preaching truth in the Trump era, when entrenched camps of Americans now argue there are multiple, conflicting truths. These confrontations over truth have accompanied a dangerous rise in “hate speech” nationwide, studies are showing. One of our most popular ReadTheSpirit authors, Michigan State University’s Joe Grimm, just published a magazine story about the impact of this ideological chasm on two American newspapers. His story is headlined: Newspaper Wars in a Trump World.

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AN IMMIGRANT’S STORY

GOD SIGNS—Each week, columnist Suzy Farbman brings us a real-life story of men and women making a difference in the world. This week, meet Walid Al Houssami whose life as a driver has carried him—and his family—to some remarkable places.

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‘NEVER LONG ENOUGH’

THE RABBI & THE ARTIST—Many of our readers are talking about the unique new picture book about the end of life, called Never Long Enough. (Here is an earlier story introducing the book and the creators: Rabbi Joseph H. Krakoff and artist Dr. Michelle Y. Sider.) This week, you can listen to the rabbi and the artist via streaming radio. Michelle and Joseph will be on “Grief Chat” with Mitchell D. Carmody, via KDMA AM Radio (based in Minnesota). You can listen to the hour-long conversation via http://kdwa.com/listen/ It is on Tuesday, August 8th, from 11 a.m. to Noon CST. (Check your time zone—it’s streaming Noon to 1 p.m. EST).

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LIFE WITH A TRICKSTER

RODNEY CURTIS—One of our beloved authors, Rodney Curtis, occasionally adds a quirky personal story to our online magazine—a hallmark of his several books about his various adventures. This week, Rodney shares photos and a tale of an old friend who Rodney compares to the classic “Trickster” of mythology. Enjoy!

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HOLIDAYS!

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

RAKSHA BANDHAN—It’s a heart-warming festival that originated in India—an occasion for brothers and sisters. Stephanie’s column describes the custom of tying a “knot of affection” around the wrist on this holiday.

OBON—This international summertime celebration has Asian roots. Stephanie’s story includes links to Do-It-Yourself lanterns.

KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI—Hindus around the world celebrate Krishna’s birthday, also known as Janmashtami. In Stephanie Fenton’s column, she explains: “An observance that lasts eight days in some regions, Krishna Janmashtami honors the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.”

HONORING MARY—In the Catholic world, August 15 marks the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Eastern Christianity, it’s called the Dormition of the Theotokos. The event remembered is the same: Mary, the mother of Jesus, taken up into Heaven. Stephanie Fenton explains the traditions around this ancient Christian festival.

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FAITH & FILM

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is 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: Justin Dillon shares ‘A Selfish Plan to Change the World’

HE ASKS: WHAT’S YOUR ‘RIOT’?

FOR ‘ORDINARY’ PEOPLE—This week, meet Justin Dillon who describes himself as first and foremost “ordinary”—in making his case that each of us has the capacity to change the world in these troubling times. Justin has become one of the world’s leading activists in combatting modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Reading his new memoir of that global journey is like enjoying a cup of coffee with Justin—a rare and inspiring opportunity. Like a good friend, Justin tells us exciting stories while encouraging each of us to change the world for the better. He says, “I want people to know: There’s something inside of every one of us that wants to come out and it’s the way each of us can change the world.”

Why wait? Justin argues: That change can start with you—right now. Please read—and share with friends this cover story in which David Crumm interviews Justin and describes his fresh perspective on global change.

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ONE FAMILY’S STORY

GOD SIGNS—Our columnist Suzy Farbman concludes her three-part series about the remarkable adventures of Karen and Gil Raff—as they crisscross the country and connect in friendship and love. Part 3 is especially timely in this week featuring Justin Dillon as our Cover Story, because the Raff family also has found that values of service do indeed spread from one life to another. Just take a look at their family portrait that opens this final part of the series.

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HOLIDAYS!

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

LAMMAS … LUGHNASADH—Many families around the world celebrate some form of this harvest festival that usually involves sharing fresh-baked bread. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton also shares some great “extras,” including a video of Morris dancers and a tasty recipe for raisin breadYum!

TISHA B’AV—This annual day of fasting and reflection on the destruction of the two ancient Jewish temples in Jerusalem often passes, each year, with relatively little public notice in the U.S. This year, however, a painful disagreement about access to the Western Wall is focusing more eyes on the ancient city. Stephanie’s column explains the observance; and, she shares some news links to learn more about the current issue in the news.

RAKSHA BANDHAN—It’s a heart-warming festival that originated in India—an occasion for brothers and sisters. Stephanie’s column describes the custom of tying a “knot of affection” around the wrist on this holiday.

OBON—This international summertime celebration has roots in Japanese, Buddhist and Confucian culture, honoring ancestors through dance, lanterns and more. Stephanie’s story includes links to Do-It-Yourself lanterns.

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FAITH & FILM

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is 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: Help us share the news about Little Pink Houses of Hope

 

A FEW CLICKS—A GOOD DEED
Our publishing house is proud to announce that, in September, we will publish the inspiring memoir of Jeanine Patten-Coble, a visionary cancer survivor whose passion is helping families face cancer all across America. Because her work already has renewed and strengthened the lives of thousands of men, women and children—the CNN-network just named her a HERO for the coming year. A short CNN video version of Jeanine’s story airs nationwide this week. Perhaps you’ve already seen it—if not, we have a link below.

What’s her story? In a nutshell: Even as she was stunned by a diagnosis of breast cancer, Jeanine had a vision of helping families facing the same crisis. She founded a national nonprofit that provides week-long retreats to strengthen families struggling to come to terms with this life-and-death challenge.

CNN is inviting all of us to help spread awareness of this innovative program. Here’s how you can help! Your “good deed” is only a few mouse-clicks away …

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NEWS ON
‘CHANGING OUR MIND’

RESPONSES TO DR. GUSHEE—Regular readers of our online magazine know that Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee has become a leading national advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in congregations—through several ever-expanding editions of his book: Changing Our MindThe newest “Definitive Edition” also includes a free Discussion Guide by Disciples of Christ theologian, pastor and columnist Bob Cornwall (Care to learn more about Cornwall’s work? Check out his columns at this website.)

Over the past week, we were impressed by a thoughtful review of Gushee’s Definitive Edition by Mennonite scholar Ted Grimsrud. He is Professor of Theology and Peace Studies at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. His review of Gushee’s book is headlined, Can an evangelical support gay marriage and remain an evangelical?

DEFENDING EUGENE PETERSON—Peterson, who is one of the most famous Bible scholars in the world, recently announced that he was willing to accept same-sex Christian couples. Then, Peterson almost immediately seemed to back away from that public statement after a tidal wave of attacks from traditionalist Christians. Having been savaged by such a tidal wave himself, Dr. Gushee writes a thoughtful and pointed column in Religion News Service about why more Christian leaders must dare to speak out for inclusion.

The debate is far from over! We also were impressed with a rebuke of the ferocious evangelicals who went after Eugene Peterson—in an online column written by author and activist Alise D. Chaffins for HuffPost. Alise makes her case in a column headlined, Evangelicals, you’re the ones choosing sin.

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GOD SIGNS LOVE STORY

SUZY FARBMAN brings us inspiring real-life stories, each week. This month, she is bringing us a multi-part love story about the adventures of a young nurse from Kentucky: Karen Raff. In Part 2, this week, Karen continues her cross-country wanderings. (If you missed last week, there’s also an easy-to-click link back to Part 1 in this new column.)

 

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HOLIDAYS!

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

TISHA B’AV—This annual day of fasting and mournful reflection on the destruction of the two ancient Jewish temples in Jerusalem often passes, each year, with relatively little public notice in mainstream American news media. This year, however, a painful disagreement about access to the Western Wall is focusing more eyes on the ancient city. Stephanie Fenton’s column explains the traditional observance; she also shares some news links to learn more about the current issue in the news.

OBON—This international celebration has roots in Japanese, Buddhist and Confucian culture, honoring ancestors through dance, lanterns and more. Stephanie’s story includes links to Do-It-Yourself lanterns.

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FAITH & FILM

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