250: Readers Tell Us About … Interfaith Ambassadors, Worn-Out Bodies, Lifting Wiregrass in Prayer and Bangkok!

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!


   It’s no secret that interfaith relationships across the U.S. are moving through a very difficult season of high anxiety over simmering global conflicts. So, we always welcome hands and hearts continuing to reach across these chasms. On Monday, you’ll read more about how ReadTheSpirit can help you and your group — wherever you’re located — bridge those gaps. So, come back for that story on Monday!
   But right now — today — we’re publishing an ambitious, first-time series of stories on a special Web site www.SharingRamadan.info to bring greater visibility to the everyday lives of our 1 billion Muslim neighbors.

   This week, we received an important letter that included holiday greetings from two activists with a lot of experience in promoting interfaith relations.
    The letter came from Imad Hamad, a regional director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Brenda Rosenberg, a Jewish community organizer and developer of the multi-media project called Children of Abraham. The letter was written jointly by Brenda and Imad. It offered best wishes for both Ramadan — and for the coming Jewish High Holy Days, which begin late in September as the Ramadan fast is reaching its conclusion.
    Their letter said, in part: “At this critical time we ask our communities to join with us in reaching out to each other as human beings and as Americans, despite the long, deep and personal pain of our histories. … As Americans, we are all proud of our heritage, faith, values and traditions and we care to engage in authentic dialogue and constructive debate. It is our common obligation and our collective responsiblity to embrace our rich diversity and uphold respect for one another, especially during difficult and challenging times.”
    Please — click on the “Comment” link below or drop us an Email to tell us your thoughts on these crucial issues.
    PLUS, if you’re especially interested in discussing the diversity of American values, please drop by Dr. Wayne Baker’s landing page within our Web site at: www.OurValues.info (Dr. Baker is always eager to hear from readers, as well.)


    “Someone needs to hear how we see these things,” wrote Jim Wells, a retired teacher from North Dakota about Missy Buchanan’s very unusual inspirational book, “Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body.” “I love to hear someone actually say that we don’t all want to golf into our 80s! I haven’t lifted a club in years. I do write letters every day like Missy suggests. … But retirement isn’t all about trying to chase Tiger Woods.
    David Bohrnstedt from Texas wrote, “I LOVE this book! I ordered a copy for my great aunt but she passed away before I could get it. I read it myself and so wished I had read it before. It gave me a whole different way of looking at what she had been going through. I highly recommend this for seniors but also for children or relatives that care for them. You will love and appreciate them like never before.”
    I replied to David’s Email, asking him to tell me more about his great aunt and his own reaction to Missy’s book and he wrote the following: “I learned about the book from an article in The Dallas Morning News. My great aunt lived in an assisted-living center in Dallas. I know she experienced the very things the author describes so authentically. My great aunt had always been active until her last few years when her mobility became severely limited. I know there are many other seniors who are struggling with the same issues. In fact, the assisted-living facility where my aunt lived is filled with people using walkers, canes, scooters and power chairs. … The book has helped me, and I know others will benefit from Ms. Buchanan’s writings.”
    John Quinlan wrote, “What impressed me the most is her understanding of us ‘old folks.’ I used to walk 2 miles every morning before breakfast, then, at 78, I had a stroke. What a difference. My body is wearing out. Missy’s book is a great inspiration for us all.
    Please — click on the “Comment” link below or drop us an Email to tell us your thoughts on Missy’s work or the spirituality of aging in general.


     Quite seriously — I LOVE this “LIFT (YOUR CITY) IN PRAYER” project that we started along with the Rev. Greg Barrette and his Unity mega-church. And I love it because this is an excellent example of the power of spiritual ideas to move like electrical currents and wind up fueling creative programs in unexpected places.
    On Monday, we shared with readers of our Emailed Planner newsletter the news from Union College, Kentucky, where staff and students are adapting the idea into a campus-wide prayer vigil. (If you’re not familiar with our Planner — see the link at the end of today’s story.)
    Then, I heard from a most enthusiastic reader, Desmond Clark from Dothan, Alabama, who has adapted the idea into “LIFT THE WIREGRASS …” Sorry, as a Northerner, I had to do a little homework on this one. Wiregrass? As the name of a place? Sorry — I know our Southern readers are laughing at me now. That’s fine.
    HERE is part of the Email Desmond sent us: “David, I became ON FIRE with this idea. I wanted to get this started down here as it is great for all of us to come together where everyone is FOR something and against nothing! I understand that our board at Unity of Dothan is planning on getting magnetic stickers for cars -– so our congregation can drive around with THANK YOU GOD FOR LIFTING UP THE ECONOMY OF THE WIREGRASS or something like that on the side of their cars! We are doing a 30-day vigil as September is the month of harvesting of bringing in what seeds we have planted and in this month there are LOTS of spiritual traditions ongoing -– as you know! So I really thought it was apropos and ingenious that such an event was being planned!”
    Desmond, we thank you! We thank our friends in the Wiregrass! And, Desmond is right — this is a most apropos season for coming together in prayerful thanksgiving.
    If you live in Michigan, remember that on the afternoon of September 14, many of us will gather along the Detroit River in Hart Plaza to share prayer in person. For other parts of the world? Keep an eye out for updates on that main LIFT IN PRAYER resource page that we have linked here.


    Perhaps this is a silly question, but here goes: Is actor Nicholas Cage actually helping cross-cultural global relations this weekend?
    Here’s why I ask this question: Cage has been doing promotional interviews with reporters in which he talks about his work on the ultra-violent thriller, “Bangkok Dangerous,” as a salute to world cultures. For example, he told the LA Times, “On my path of film acting, I’ve been trying to think more and more internationally, trying to have a global mind.” Cage says he went to Asia and worked with Asian filmmakers as a way to highlight other cinematic cultures.
    Well, I love a good action movie as much as the next viewer, but it strikes me as sadly ironic that — in a week when Thailand (and Bangkok in particular) is moving through an especially turbulent period in its political life, the main vision of Bangkok Americans will see is not helpful news sorting out the issues reshaping the future of this Asian nation in real life. Instead, they’ll see Nick Cage roaring through a life-and-death gangster flick.
    Often, here at ReadTheSpirit, we turn to Facebook groups to open up our discussions on movies, TV shows and other spiritual issues related to pop culture. But, on this new film? I think the level of spiritual reflection on this baby was summed up nicely by a student from LSU, who reflected: “If this isn’t the greatest movie of all time, I will ram an ivory chess set down my own throat.”
    (Note: Someone probably should alert the LSU paramedics.)
    As I say, each weekend, we do try to raise some issue related to current films. This weekend, “Bangkok Dangerous” was the best we could do. But, hey, we invite you share your thoughts!

   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
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