070: Happy New Year!

    (And don’t miss the end of today’s story — because it contains a special holiday greeting from an old friend in Switzerland!)

    FIRST, HERE’S THE NEWS: We’re expanding in 2008 in exciting new ways, thanks to the many professional colleagues, everyday readers and kind supporters who’ve linked their growing spiritual networks together through ReadTheSpirit.
    Faith is all about connection — and that’s also the fuel behind new forms of media that are reaching millions of people around the world. So, rather than fearing the turbulent transformation of modern media, the truth is that people of faith are especially gifted at swimming in these stormy seas. We understand connections.
    But faith is also about choices!
    As we round the corner of the calendar into yet another New Year — what doorways lie ahead of you? Which ones will you enter in 2008?

    This month, we hope you’ll open at least 2 doorways with us!
    One doorway into ReadTheSpirit — one “landing page” — will remain these Monday-through-Friday ReadTheSpirit stories, interviews, book and movie reviews, plus our popular quizzes — and, of course, your feedback as readers that we encourage and that we fold back into the creative stories on our Web site! (That’s what the holiday greeting is all about at the end of this story.)

     But a BRAND NEW doorway — a new “landing page” starting today — is Interfaith Heroes. In recent weeks, you’ve probably already heard about this special global project to celebrate men and women throughout history who made new kinds of spiritual connections to  promote peace in the world.
    The “news” of this new observance has been spreading widely, even before this opening day! By New Year’s Eve, more than 2,500 Web pages around the world carried extensive news items or at least some mention of “Interfaith Heroes Month.”
    Click Here and you’ll jump to the new daily landing page to see for yourself. We hope you’ll enjoy those stories, too, each day.

    If you’re a regular reader, please choose which stories interest you most. Jump around the entire ReadTheSpirit site. Some stories will touch you personally — others might seem more remote. When you find a gem, invite friends, neighbors or members of your congregation or book-discussion group to meet you online and read along with you — following your lead through any of our exciting doorways.

    ONE IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION: Many readers prefer to use our free, daily Email or RSS service, which handily delivers our daily stories to your “inbox.” If you already use that service — or care to sign up for it now (on the right-hand side of our page) — then you will ALSO need to sign up for this same service on the new Interfaith Heroes landing page as well. We are not automatically sending the Heroes stories to ReadTheSpirit subscribers — or vice versa. We’re leaving the selection of email and RSS feeds in your hands.

    NOW, we’ve waited long enough for that holiday greeting, so let’s turn to that, shall we?
    This is a wonderful gift, created and sent to us from the Swiss psychologist Ernst Meier, who ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm and Publisher John Hile met while covering a pilgrimage to the centuries-old Iona Abbey off the coast of Scotland this autumn.
    The resulting five-part series of stories about the pilgrimage — complete with photos, video, slide shows and reviews of great books about Iona and Celtic spirituality — became one of our highest-readership projects this fall. It also expanded our readership in the UK, Europe and lands often associated with the UK — Australia and even New Zealand.
    What touched readers around the world was the vibrant, honest reflections of ordinary men and women going through a spiritual transformation that has touched thousands of lives over many centuries.
    Read the series, if you missed it — or, perhaps, revisit it again if you don’t recall it. Click Here to jump to the first chapter of the 5-part series, where you’ll find an easily clickable index to the whole series. Ernst appeared in Chapters 2 and 5. Or, you can jump directly to an audio-visual slide show we produced for Chapter 2, featuring an interview with Ernst.

    AFTER THE SERIES APPEARED, it was Ernst’s evocative voice in his slideshow online that touched a good number of our readers.
    In addition to his professional work in Switzerland, Ernst occasionally travels around the world to closely observe traditional spiritual rituals, shrines and pilgrimage routes. One route that he has walked more than once, in his life, is the great medieval pilgrimage road known as The Way of St. James.
    This “route” actually is a network of famous roads, centuries old, that pilgrims walked from many points in Europe to reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Traditional accounts say that St. James, the son of Zebedee and one of Jesus’ disciples, was buried there and that the spot was associated with miracles.
    Ernst loves this particular route and has photographed sections of it in his homeland of Switzerland. As a gift to English-speaking readers, Ernst (whose home language is German) selected a popular English prayer about roads to place into a visual image of the route near his home.
    It’s a gorgeous photo — and, if you click on the smaller version below — a bigger version should pop up on your computer screen. Feel free to share it with friends as a New Year’s prayer for all pilgrims seeking world peace in this new year.
     In sending us all this particular gift in this way — Ernst Meier has demonstrated, again, the core values of this ReadTheSpirit project. May we all follow such roads — and open doorways together in 2008!

COME BACK TOMORROW for our first Conversation of 2008 With Edward Beck, the best-selling author whose book, “Soul Provider,” is also a perfect way to spiritually jump-start your new year! You won’t want to miss that story!

PLEASE — Tell us what you think. Click on the “Comment” link at the end of our stories online. Or, Click here to email me, David Crumm.

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