245: Readers Tell Us About … Prayers for (Your City), Christine, Dee, David and a Muslim Movie, “Traitor”

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ou’ve done it again! We’ve received so
many creative messages this week that we’re going
to share some of your best thoughts. We love to hear from readers!

PRAYERS CONTINUE
FOR (YOUR CITY)

   We’re hearing in various forms that many people are taking part in the three-week prayer vigil for our cities. Visit our resource page if you want to learn more.
    Thanks Edgard in Germany for noting: “Your Washington story reminds me we all should pray for our leaders now. … Americans could use our prayers, too. This is correct?”
    Yes, this is correct. And, please, tell us about what you’re praying for as we move into autumn.

CONNECTIONS:
MANY THANKS
(and a little criticism)
to Christine, Dee, Wayne, David

    Our mailbag is bulging with messages in various forms about our stories related to “Spiritual Connections”: Christine Gloss’ original series last week, then Christine’s series this week with Dr. Wayne Baker, the Rev. Dee Lowman’s story about Facebook as spiritual community — and our Conversation with Dr. David Myers on Wednesday.

    First, a reader and occasional contributor from Pennsylvania who is an Episcopal priest, the Rev. John Emmert, dropped us a note on the interview with Dr. Myers: “Every time I dive back into ReadTheSpirit, I’m amazed at how I’m invariably challenged, inspired, reassured, and provoked to thought and prayer. The interview with David Myers was no exception.”
    NannyTo3 from San Diego enjoyed Myers’ interview as well. “Thank you for reminding people about his other books. … More people need to read ‘What God Has Joined Together.’ … Thank God there are people like him in this world to give us all hope that faith doesn’t have to divide.”
    Myers’ work inspires strong feelings in readers. “MWT” noted, “Who is he to give away the faith that many have died to defend? … Not for me. He goes too far.”
    But L. Walker from Washington D.C. said simply: “David G. Myers is a living saint in my book. Thank you for telling me about the next book I’ll read. … Four long flights in those tight seats and I’ll need something inspiring to read, right?”
    Right! And this note made me realize: Dr. Myers’ book is a slim volume — ideal for slipping into a coat pocket as you travel.

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    Candi chimed in on Dee’s piece about Facebook. Candi wrote: “Thank
you so much for sharing the sermon by Rev Dee Lowman. As one who is
searching for a way to reconnect with a spiritual community, her
comments about the value of technology such as Facebook are
encouraging. I’ve never been part of a web community, but she makes it
sound not only simple but logical. Thank you, Dee, and thank you
ReadTheSpirit for your contribution. I love this website and check in
daily to see what you have to say.

    And we also heard about Dee’s story from Henry Mitchell, a science teacher in an Illinois high school. “Quick note to say glad you gave us that story on Facebook. A lot of us Baby Boomers think we’re the top of the cultural mountain, but we learn from our students that the world can be organized in different ways than we imagined. … Rev. Lowman has it right.”
    Then, Donna Marie sent along “blessings” to Christine Gloss for her work over the past two weeks on our site. (Christine has got a fresh story today at OurValues.org with Dr. Wayne Baker.) Donna Marie wrote: “Christine, I am so glad you find that connections with others are so powerful! It reminds me of the miracles that do occur through interactions with others. It is such a divine moment. Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge. Personal stories are so wonderfully uplifting. I so appreciate it and enjoy reading your work!”
    AND, IF YOU ARE READING THIS NOW and feel so moved to add to this Connective Conversation, please add your thoughts! You can click on “Comment” below, or send us an Email — or you can jump over to OurValues.org and comment on Christine’s final piece in what turned out to be a two-week series with us.

AN EXPLOSIVE MOVIE OPENS:

IS IT A POSITIVE MUSLIM MILESTONE,

OR A BAD CHOICE PRE-RAMADAN?

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One thing is certain about “The Traitor” — it will provoke discussion about Islam.
    A Muslim friend in Asia Emailed me mid-week, asking about reactions to the Democratic convention and, since he enjoys films as much as I do, he added this question: “What are Americans saying about this new movie about terrorism, called ‘The Traitor’?”
    My quick response was: “Not much. It’s just opening in most of the U.S. We’ll see. Watch the web site.”
    Then, last night, I went to see Don Cheadle in “The Traitor” — and now I am eager to hear what Americans, especially Muslims, have to say about this film. (I’ve looked around on Facebook, Cheadle fan sites and even IMDB and there’s little, so far, about the core issues raised by the movie.)
    This thriller is packed with dramatic plot twists from start to finish and I don’t want to spoil any of them on the opening weekend of the movie. However, I can say this: This movie project began several years ago as an idea hatched by the comedian Steve Martin (no kidding). Later, Cheadle got involved and he is widely credited in working with a new script writer and producing a more sophisticated film than originally was envisioned. It’s the story of an African-born Muslim (Cheadle) who grew up American and then, as an adult, served in secret U.S. services overseas. The drama revolves around his work with a group of terrorists to attack Americans from sleeper cells in the American heartland. Is Cheadle a traitor to the U.S.? Are the terrorists traitors to Islam? Those are the questions behind the film’s title.

    It is possible that a strong case can be made praising “The Traitor” as a landmark in American cinema. This seems to be the first big-budget Hollywood movie for a broad audience with a Muslim main character — not a Muslim friend, sidekick, co-worker or spouse, but a stand-alone Muslim main character — and a full-scale “action hero” at that.
    It also is possible that a strong case can be made condemning the release of this film on the eve of Ramadan, once again spreading fear that lots of Muslims are out to kill us. The movie’s plot rests on the assumption that there are countless “secret cells” festering across the U.S. just waiting to be activated. That’s despite the fact that — in the real world — virtually every Muslim center and group in the U.S. has formally condemned terrorist acts. The movie’s concept of evil Muslims hiding behind every pickup truck seems ill timed on the eve of the month of peaceful reflections, Ramadan — a month we will be celebrating here at ReadTheSpirit, starting on Monday.

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    What makes this movie so complex is that it’s not a hatchet job on Islam. Whoever was responsible for the final version of this screenplay obviously had wise advice from someone well versed in Islam and interfaith relations. If moviegoers actually pay attention to the dialogue — as opposed to mainly focusing on the pulse-pounding action sequences — then they will hear, in the course of the movie, lots of accurate explanations about Islam’s overall condemnation of such violence. It’s all there in the screenplay, if we listen carefully to all the lines.
    The question is: Will we listen? Or, will we mainly come away anxious about Muslims, once again? PLEASE, tell us what you think! Click on the “Comment” link below — or Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm directly.

   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.
    There’s still time to sign up for our Monday morning ReadTheSpirit Planner by Email — it’s free and you can cancel it any time you’d like to do so.

    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections — but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those
groups.

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