Cover Story: ‘Speak honestly’ about our lives, the rabbi advises families

CONVERSATION IS KEY TO OVERCOMING ANXIETY

MEET RABBI KRAKOFF—This rabbi is an expert in end-of-life conversations, but his wisdom about talking with family members has far broader implications in this time of global anxiety. Rabbi Joseph Krakoff and educator-illustrator Michelle Sider created the beautifully illustrated new book Never Long Enough as a way for families to talk with loved ones approaching the end of life. Or, the book can be opened after the passing of a loved one—to recall the richness of the person’s life.

We think the book has even broader appeal—as a collection of intriguing illustrations and poetic prompts to spark conversation about the goodness and enduring richness of life. And, honestly, can’t we all use more of that right now?

Recently, writer Leslee Komaiko of The Jewish Journal, the largest Jewish weekly newspaper in the U.S., interviewed Krakoff about his efforts to spread the wisdom of Never Long Enough to families coast to coast. (The photo with this news item is from a recent book signing event in Los Angels. Photo courtesy of Atara Krakoff.)

Want to learn more about the book? Visit the book’s website at www.NeverLongEnough.net, where you can read comments from readers and praise from other writers. Or, you can go right to the book’s Amazon page where you’ll find a growing list of reviews (and an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars). That link goes to the paperback edition. There also is a hardback version.

 

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‘CULTURE OF RECIPROCITY’

DR. WAYNE BAKER—Since the founding of ReadTheSpirit, the all-time most popular writer in our ever-expanding circle of writers is the University of Michigan sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker, who is an internationally known specialist in values and related issues like “reciprocity” at UofM’s Ross School of Business. Along with his wife Cheryl Baker, CEO of Humax, the Bakers developed a widely used method of teaching groups to build a culture of reciprocity—using a tool they call the Reciprocity Ring.

Recently, Schon Beechler wrote a column for the online business-management magazine Knowledge, headlined: Creating a Culture of Reciprocity.

Want to learn more? Visit Dr. Baker’s United America book page. You’ll find lots of creative ideas for joining a nationwide dialogue about what unites us—a truly remarkable idea in mid-2017!

 

 

 

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HOLIDAYS!

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

OBON—This international celebration has roots in Japanese culture, Buddhism and Confucianism as well, honoring ancestors as families and friends come together to perform traditional dances and light lanterns. Because of varying interpretations of the calendar, Obon festivals may be scheduled in July, although the peak of the observance in Japan is in mid August. Stephanie Fenton has the story—including links to inexpensive Do-It-Yourself lanterns.

 

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GOD SIGNS

SUZY FARBMAN regularly brings our readers stories of uplifting convergence—people coming together in surprising and hopeful ways. In this week’s column, Suzy found herself halfway around the world—where she discovered this true story of two Americans who were hoping for a second marriage and … Well, please, simply enjoy the story, the photos—and remember to share it with a friend.

 

 

 

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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 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: Faith & Health—prophetic voices remind us that God cares for wellbeing of all

RELIGIOUS CALL TO ACTION

FAITH & HEALTH CONNECTION—Our online magazine has been publishing columns and books about faith and health for a decade—but, still, this deep connection between religion and our physical wellbeing surprises many Americans. Right now, as July begins, religious leaders across the whole spectrum of faith traditions are issuing strongly worded calls to action about the future of healthcare in America. This week’s cover story shows you—at a glance—some of the prominent headlines from Protestants, Catholics, Jews and a host of other religious leaders. Our story also introduces you to one of the major scholars exploring this connection: Dr. Harold Koenig. Please, read this Cover Story and share it with friends.

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CELEBRATE FREEDOM!

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

FOURTH of JULYHolidays expert Stephanie Fenton has a column jam-packed with information, fun facts and helpful links about Independence Day 2017—and the traditions associated with this American holiday. For example: Do you know how many changes were made in the text of the Declaration of Independence before it was approved? Stephanie’s got the answer.

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STAND UP AND … SING!

GOD SIGNS—Columnist and author Suzy Farbman tells the remarkable story of her theater-loving sister’s birthday party in which a host of friends assembled a unique cabaret to celebrate the love of great songs.

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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 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: Religion, children spark growth in publishing

BOOK SALES STRONG FOR FAITH & KIDS

TRENDS YOU’LL CHEER—After a decade in publishing, our team is cheering several trends documented in the latest reports from the Association of American Publishers. Not only are your beloved ink-on-paper books safe as the major medium publishers will continue to produce in coming years—but two themes close to the hearts of our readers turn up as the main signs of growth among book buyers. Please, celebrate this news with us by reading our Cover Story this week—and, please, share this story with friends via email or social media. (Psst! There’s even a conveniently clickable button that lets you print out this column to share with friends—on paper!)

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

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

RAMADAN ENDS:
‘Eid Mubarak!’

RAMADAN has ended! Now, families are enjoying “The Celebration,” which is the English meaning of the commonly used phrase: “The Eid” as in the words well-wishers exchange, “Eid Mubarak!” You’ll enjoy this holiday column by Stephanie Fenton describing this festival enjoyed by the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims—starting on Sunday morning June 25 and extending into the start of this new week in many communities.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY

PLAN FOR JULY 4Holidays expert Stephanie Fenton has a column jam-packed with information, fun facts and helpful links about Independence Day 2017—and the traditions associated with this American holiday. For example: Do you know how many changes were made in the text of the Declaration of Independence before it was approved? Stephanie’s got the answer.

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

FRIENDSHIP—MORE POWERFUL THAN HATRED

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

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

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

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

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RAMADAN
& MORE ON ‘SHARIA’

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

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

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

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

.JUNETEENTH

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

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LITHA, SOLSTICE, MIDSUMMER

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

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FILM & FAITH:

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

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

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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

LIFESIZE (AND PUPPET) REGIE MAKE A SPLASH

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

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

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

FATHER’S DAY

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

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RAMADAN

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JUNETEENTH

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

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CABARET 313

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

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FILM & FAITH:

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

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

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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

FINDING HOPE IN DANGEROUS TIMES

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

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

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

FATHER’S DAY

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

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

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

RAMADAN

 

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

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SUZY FARBMAN

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

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FILM & FAITH:

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

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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

ALL RELIGIONS PROMOTE IDEALS

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

This week, you may also want to read:

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AND—HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

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

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

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CELEBRATING GRADUATION IN STYLE

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

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FILM & FAITH:

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

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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