255: Readers Tell Us About … Lifting Cities on Sunday, Interfaith Passport, Ramadan

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!


   At 2 p.m. Sunday, as Editor of ReadTheSpirit, I’ll be in Hart Plaza at the Detroit River along with whoever else shows up to pray for the well-being of our central city: Detroit.
   Although our ReadTheSpirit worldwide Home Office is located in a town closer to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I have regarded myself as a Detroiter for most of my 53 years. The Rev. Greg Barrette, whose church (Renaissance Unity) has coordinated the team planning this event, tells me that the “program” in Hart Plaza will be brief. This is, after all, a spiritual idea conceived in the simplicity of prayer.
   In Hart Plaza, a number of custom-made books will be arrayed on tables along the river for people to write down their prayers for the city. It may take a while for everyone who wishes to write a prayerful note to visit the books and take pen in hand. But this isn’t an event to attend and listen to long talks. That’s not the idea. No, this is an event to come and reflect—pray with others, if you wish—and make your note expressing your own prayerful hopes. This is an occasion that’s about you—and your reflections.
   On Thursday, I was asked by Detroit Free Press Staff Writer Niraj Warikoo to explain a little about the background of this effort. After all, the vast majority of ReadTheSpirit readers don’t live in Michigan. Many of our readers don’t even live in the U.S.

   Why do something so Detroit-specific?
   Here’s what I said: “One thing I love about this idea is that people can grab hold of it and adapt it anywhere they live. I’ve heard from people as far away as Calgary, Alberta, the Florida Keys and England who’ve sent us notes saying they’re praying in this style. Union College in Kentucky is doing a campus-wide period of prayer this fall for the uplifting of the campus. There are people down in an area of the southeast United States who are spending weeks praying for the Wiregrass, the region in which they live. It’s an infectious idea. People are picking it up in lots of places.
   ”We’ve tried to keep this very basic. It’s simply a request that people pray for a brighter future for our community. And that’s it. We want to keep it so simple that anyone can do this, whatever your faith—or even if you don’t have a specific faith. Even if you’re a complete skeptic about faith, just sit once a day and think a positive thought about metro-Detroit. This idea lets everyone participate on some level.”

   Can something so simple make a difference? Well, we’ll see. I’ve invited readers in other parts of the world to tell me what they observe. I’m eager to hear from Union College, the Wiregrass and so on. I told Niraj that we do hope it will make a difference:
   “There are lots of terrific groups and programs, schools and organizations out there just waiting for people to roll up their sleeves. We’re not trying to invent a new group. But, we do think that the vital first step is getting people spiritually ready to pitch in. If someone spends time regularly praying for their community, there won’t be any shortage of ideas or action. Those things will flow naturally from our good-hearted concern for our neighbors.”

   Want to know more? The basic Resource Page for the effort is a popular destination these days.


   A creative spiritual idea can leap great distances in a single bound—and connect lives in ways we could never predict.
   On Monday, we introduced the idea of the Interfaith Passport—and by Wednesday I heard from the Rev. Dr. Donna L. McNiel, CRC, Multifaith Chaplain at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.
   She wrote: “Thank you for your Sept 8 post and for the Interfaith Passport. I have students who want to do a memorial service tomorrow (9/11), but I’m ambivalent because I worry that a vow to never forget becomes a comfortable way of getting stuck in fear and anger, even among those who want something else, but don’t know what. I would prefer that we act out our memorials in the ways you suggest.
   ”I found your site as I was looking for interfaith prayer resources. I will use the Coventry litany, and will give participants your passports and encourage them to act in hope and bridge building, rather than clinging to despair and sorrow.”

   To the Rev. Dr. McNiel, a huge “Thank You”!
   And, we invite you—if you missed the launch of the Planner on Monday, either to go back and read about it (the Coventry litany also is on that page). Or, you can jump immediately to our Interfaith and Calendar page, where there are free graphics available to download and print your own Passport.


    Special thanks goes to the reporter, Niraj Warikoo (who I mentioned above)—and to the Detroit Free Press staff for recognizing the significant milestone for many Americans in the passing of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. Niraj very quickly had a solid story about the imam up on the Free Press Web site—with a great photo of the imam by a Free Press staff photographer from the paper’s archives.
   Here at ReadTheSpirit, we updated our own front page headlines and we halted our SharingRamadan series of inspirational stories for 24 hours to honor the imam. You can visit our tribute to the imam and you’ll also find a link there to Niraj’s story. Please, we still welcome your comments at SharingRamadan.
   Many readers have told me in a variety of ways that they appreciate this acknowledgment of his importance and his passing.
   ”He was like a grandfather to many of us,” said a friend over coffee.
   Dawud Walid, a prominent Muslim leader in the Midwest, Emailed: “I cannot express to you how hurt my family and my community are right now. It feels like we all lost one of our parents.”

   VALUES, TOO: Another Web page of special interest to our Muslim readers this week is Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues series, which has been exploring American attitudes toward Arab Americans. Dr. Baker is one of the lead researchers helping to report accurately on life in this important American community, where many men and women are Muslim. Check out Dr. Baker’s page, as well, to add 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.
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