089: What are YOU reading for Lent?

IF you’re looking for
Interfaith Heroes, Click Here to jump over there. IF you’re here for ReadTheSpirit, then you’re in the right place.

As January draws to a close, make sure to check out our Interfaith Heroes site, if you haven’t already. We’re eager to receive nominations of “heroes” who we can consider for next year’s Interfaith Heroes Month in January 2009. So, while the first-ever, month-long observance remains in full swing, spend a little time on that page — and think about who you might nominate.
    We’re eager to hear from you.

    Throughout 2008, ReadTheSpirit is launching a whole host of experimental publishing projects to help people around the world appreciate, learn and discover inspirational lessons from our religious traditions.
    Starting on February 6, which is Ash Wednesday for Western Christians, we are launching yet another “landing page” and releasing our second ReadTheSpirit paperback book, called, “Our Lent: Things We Carry.”
    Our Interfaith Heroes landing page will remain online — so that people can continue to comment and send us further nominations. But, a NEW PAGE of daily reflections will open up at www.OurLent.info for the new season.
    Over time, we plan to explore a whole array of religious seasons that are important to Americans and to billions of people globally: Among them, we hope to place special attention on Lent and Advent for Christians, the Jewish High Holy Days, Passover and Ramadan.
    We need your help for these efforts to flower into rich, lively and uplifting communities of readers.

    IN LENT, we know we’re tapping into a major, spiritual “pulse point” around the world.
    Each year, 2 billion Christians around the world journey through the Lenten season that leads toward Easter. In the U.S., observance of Lent is booming everywhere among Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox. Most significantly, people unaffiliated with any congregation find themselves drawn toward Lent’s solemn, deeply inspiring traditions of personal reflection in preparation for new birth. Millions turn to Lenten traditions each year –- whether they are active in a parish or not –- looking toward the timeless truths of this journey in the hope that these traditions might somehow touch their lives in a fresh way.
    This sacred season recalls the heart of the gospels that Christians around the world regard as holy scriptures, so the diversity of our Lenten observances may seem surprising. Eastern and Western Christians sometimes converge on the same Lenten calendar; sometimes they are weeks apart, due to differences in calculating the final date of Easter. This year, the two branches of Christendom are weeks apart — and you’ll find Orthodox voices in our Web pages, when Eastern Christians begin the observance, writing about the distinctive spiritual gifts of their traditions.
    There are many distinctions and traditions from which we can learn. Western Christians count their 40 days, starting with Ash Wednesday but excluding Sundays. Eastern Christians start their 40 days on a Monday, counting Sundays, but excluding the week leading up to Easter.
    Some Christians fast; some don’t. Many Christians prayerfully make significant sacrifices during this season, while others have barely acknowledged the season throughout most of their lives.

    So, if you’re a Christian, plan to experience Lent with us — and with readers in cities and suburbs, readers who come from a wide range of ethnic and racial groups, readers who are young and readers who are old.
    If your congregation or your small group is searching for a good book, or a good series of materials, to follow during Lent — consider “Our Lent: Things We Carry,” which will be available for sale soon on our site. Or, you can simply visit our Lenten “landing page” on a daily basis — where we will print our 40 chapters for you to read — for free. (On that page, you can even sign up to receive the daily chapters free by email.)
    We do hope you’ll do more than “read along,” though. We want readers to respond — with comments that will form a rich community of discussion. Already, we’ve invited some major voices to commit themselves to daily comments — and they’ve enthusiastically agreed.

    It’s going to be a first-of-its-kind journey.
    People from a wide range of backgrounds already are packing their spiritual bags and getting ready to set out with us on this exciting, inspiring and challenging road.
    Come walk with us.

    THINK ABOUT FORMING a ReadTheSpirit discussion circle in this new year! Click Here to read our earlier “how-to-form-a-circle” story.
    PLEASE, Tell us what you think. Leave a
Comment by clicking on the “Comment” link at the end of this article on
our Web site — or Click Here to email us.

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