240: Readers Tell Us About … Lifting Cities in Prayer, Christine’s Connections and 2 Unusual Movies!

ou’ve done it again! We’ve received so
many creative notes from readers this week that we’re going
to share some of your best thoughts … Today, it’s your
page! And, please, we love to hear from readers!


   We’ve heard from many readers that you’re excited about LIFTING (YOUR CITY) IN PRAYER. Don’t forget that P-Day — the Prayer Day that’s the kick-off for this 21-day vigil is Sunday. Our resource page is packed with all the information you need to participate — so just click here to learn more.
    Here’s the kind of encouragement we’re getting from readers. This note is from the Rev. Marylou Palmer: “Here
in Key West our economy is very much linked with the tourist dollars
available elsewhere in the country. So our Unity congregation is
linking up with others to demonstrate our faith in the power of prayer!
Celebrating God’s Abundant Blessings for all!


    If you missed Christine Gloss’ three-day series this week, catch up now on these uplifting stories about making spiritual connections in a disconnected era.
    When I invited Christine to write this series for us, I appreciated the fact that Christine’s vocation involves weaving together the lives of men, women and young people — even though Christine herself is among the millions of Americans whose own households don’t quite fit the Norman Rockwell portrait of nuclear families. She lives alone. She doesn’t have kids. And you know what? That places her squarely in the majority of Americans who don’t live in “Leave It to Beaver” nuclear households anymore with Mom, Pop and kids around the fireplace.
    Christine brings a wise, eager eye, ear and heart to this challenge of creating community — a spiritual energy that I’ve spotted in other mentors down through the years, people like the late Catholic Bishop Kenneth Untener and retired United Methodist Bishop Judith Craig, among many others.
    I’m thrilled that many of you immediately spotted the brightness of Christine’s light this week.

    Here’s a quick sampling of what you’re telling us:
    Joe Walker, active in Catholic prison ministry and other social-action groups, plans to circulate Christine’s articles among his own Catholic-spirituality E-lists. Thank you, Joe!
    Suzanne Young, who teaches “Women’s SELF Awareness Classes,” says that Christine’s articles hit home with her this week: “I teach my students the importance of loving and respecting ourselves first. This ensures that those who live alone will find it a rewarding experience because by doing this they are surrounding themselves with happiness.”

    Of course, everyone loved the nostalgic snapshots on Day 1 of the series! Those photos certainly connected with Buddhist author Geri Larkin, who lives now in the Pacific Northwest and whose most recent book, “Plant Seed, Pull Weed,” is also a spiritual gem about the art of connection. Out of the Pacific blue, Geri dropped us a note this week that began: “Christine Gloss is wonderful!
    Here’s how Geri describes the power of Christine’s message: “She feels like a long-lost, favorite sister to me. We both survived a Catholic all-girls high school, are curious in the extreme, and believe in the goodness of people. I loved her series this week.
    “Sister Simeon’s teaching that there are many ways to be generative is a lesson for today, if ever there was one. (Plus I got a total kick out of the old family photos that went with the piece.) I hope Read the Spirit reprints her ‘Greet the Greeter’ story on a regular basis. It is so easy to forget the power of a moment of kindness and recognition.
    “On Wednesday she made me miss Detroit — almost desperately — when she wrote about The Artist Village and Chazz Miller’s determination to give youth an alternative to gang membership.
    “I bow to you and your effort, Christine, and can’t wait to read more of your words.”

    Her stories this week also impressed Dr. Wayne Baker, the University of Michigan researcher who runs the www.OurValues.org project — a Web page designed to talk with Americans about the core values that animate our lives. (You also can reach OurValues any day by clicking on the easy-navigation “tab” at the top of ReadTheSpirit.)
    Starting on Monday, Dr. Baker is devoting a week of his provocative stories — aimed at inviting you to join the discussion on values — to exploring themes raised by Christine. Plus, Christine will appear later next week on OurValues.org to talk with you about your reactions and questions — so stay tuned for that!


    Each weekend, we try to leave you with some provocative thoughts about spiritual themes at the movies and you’ve told us that you especially like to hear about unusual films, which you might not catch without a little nudge from ReadTheSpirit.
    Well, frankly, I wasn’t planning to write about Woody Allen’s new “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” I viewed it this week in an art-house theater in Washington D.C. and I thought it was too far off the beaten track for most of our readers. But, as of this weekend, the movie is in much wider release nationwide — touching off a flurry of coast-to-coast conversation. The New York Times devoted a lengthy commentary to the movie this week, comparing it to Francois Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim.”
    Do you feel the cultural undercurrent here? To evoke Woody Allen, the Gaudi architecture that features prominently in this movie and Truffaut (especially “Jules and Jim”) in this way is potent chemistry for Baby Boomers steeped in film in the ’60s and ’70s as a sacred form of the fine arts.

    Then Geri Larkin, while praising Christine Gloss, added that she also wanted to put in a good word for the film. Geri wrote, “I just saw Woody Allen’s new movie. I loved it and saw it as an ode to Barcelona and living life hard. He’s growing into a sweet old man, that guy.” She also wrote, “He is a genius at staying controversial.
    Over the years, I have come to trust Geri’s spiritual instincts — and coupled with this unusual salute from the Times mid-week — I’ve got to say to you today: Yes, go see this film. And, please, tell me what you think of it.
    My take? Well, it’s a movie about three young women and a male artist who converge in Barcelona with explosive and erotic results, although there isn’t any nudity in the film. If you’re a Baby Boomer reared on cinema, think of the sweetness of early Truffaut. When Geri talks about “living life hard,” I think she’s talking about a powerful and direct honesty linking our intentions with our actions. Overall, I would say, this film really is about hypocrisy and what life looks like — for good or ill — without that facade around us.

    BUT — HOLD ON — there’s a second option as well for the faith-and-film crowd: “Henry Poole Is Here.”
    What can I say about this very, very unusual film that won’t spoil it for you? I can say: If you care about faith and film, you must see this movie about an angry man (played by Luke Wilson) who moves into a run-down home and quickly gets even angrier when he discovers some neighbors setting up an impromptu shrine in his back yard.
    I’ve been a writer and editor for more than 30 years and have specialized in covering religion for more than 20 and I can tell you this as well, without spoiling the film’s surprises: This seemingly simple movie represents some very sophisticated screenwriting. Its spiritual twists and turns easily could have toppled the movie into a swamp of sugary syrup. The fact that Luke Wilson makes it through nearly two hours, keeping us riveted to the strange pilgrimage that unfolds around him, is absolutely amazing.
    I doubt that the Academy will honor a very small, independent film like this with Best-Acting or Best-Screenwriting Oscar nominations — but this film is of that caliber.

    Often, I’ve told readers that the three most important spiritual questions of our age are these: Why should I crawl out of bed in the morning? How can I make it through another stressful day? And, at the end of the day, did anything I do truly matter? This film addresses all three questions with grace, occasional humor — and an honest warmth that is likely to win your heart.
    Oh — and Bob Dylan shows up in the soundtrack at a crucial moment, too. How can you beat this? Go on! Go see it! Have a great weekend!
    If you do see this film, I’d really love to hear what you think — just click here and drop me a quick Email.

   THANKS to all the readers we’ve quoted today!
    If you didn’t see your comment or suggestion today — keep
reading, because we’ll have more news, reviews, quizzes and inspiring
interviews next week.

AND PLEASE, as these readers have done — Tell Us What You Think.
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reflections — but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
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