300: Readers are telling us about James Bond, “invisble women,” Obama and a Well-Traveled Dog in a Doorway

mazing but true! This is our 300th ReadTheSpirit story. (And, if you count the stories in all the other sections of our online magazine, we’ve published well over 500 stories and reviews, now!)
    We couldn’t have accomplished this without your strong encouragement as readers, your many ideas and emails to us. So, it’s appropriate that our 300th RTS story is a Reader Roundup! Since we’ve been traveling in Scotland, we haven’t published a Roundup in a while and we’ve got some great ideas to share here. … But, we always can use more feedback! In fact, send us a note right now! We love to hear from readers!


As you know, there’s a new James Bond movie opening this weekend. So, if you’ve already visited Amazon and purchased a copy of the Bible study book by Dr. Benjamin Pratt—and, you’ve already checked out our new James Bond Bible study Web sitethen, the next thing you can enjoy this weekend is seeing Quantum of Solace and telling us what you think about it.
    We’ve made this very easy!
    First, you can click here and easily email us a comment.
    Or, you can visit our new Bond Web site and click on the prominent link that asks: “What do you think of Quantum?

This Bond item leads off our Reader Roundup column this week, because lots of readers have been contacting us about the new Bible study. Dr. Pratt points out that the whole idea behind the Bond Bible study
is: Finding hope in tough times. And we deeply appreciate all the
writers out there spreading the word. Special thanks go to The New Yorker, the Dallas Morning News,  the Dayton Daily News, the Lutheran World Federation Youth Blog, Jonathan Shipley in the Pacific Northwest at A Writer’s Desk, Ed McNulty of Visual Parables, the Rev. Daniel Buttry of “Interfaith Heroes,”  Daniel Tencer at Tencer.net, the religious-leadership blog Monday Morning Insight—and even a site with the quirky name: Hypnotizing Rabbit.
    If you care to read more about “What People Are Saying?”—well, just click on over to that page, as well.


ibrarian Mary Hennessey Emailed to thank us for our two film reviews about “invisible” women—and she shared some valuable additional information. (You can jump back to Thursday to read the reviews if you missed them.)
    This was Mary’s first Email to ReadTheSpirit and she pointed out that she likes our approach because we’re “so respectful to all religious paths.”
    As a librarian, active in her community, Mary knows that our communities are stronger when we appreciate the diverse cultures of the men, women and young people who are our neighbors. She’s eager to see the Halllmark Channel’s “Accidental Friendship,” but doesn’t subscribe to cable TV. But, she wrote, “I’ll have to put on my Nancy Drew hat and get ‘Accidental Friendship’ some other way.”
    Here’s the valuable information from Mary:
    “I came across ‘Up The Yangtze’ on PBS—serendipitous find, because I was leading a book discussion at the library on
the book ‘River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze’ by Peter Hessler and the
film fit into our discussion. Tell your readers that
the POV web site has lots more information on the film, behind the scenes
glimpses and even an update on how “Cindy” is doing now. Teachers can borrow the film for FREE from POV via their online Educator
, which also has lots of lesson plans and other ways to use the film in the

    Thanks, Mary!


want to thank a scholar, Dr. Ronald Stockton, for sharing with me a lengthy personal memoir he wrote about his experiences as an American voter living through Election Day and the days that have passed since then. I know that Ron is not alone in doing this. I’ve done it. I know many others have been jotting special notes to themselves in journals and other places where we can preserve what’s rumbling through our heads and hearts.
    Then, Ron put this idea into words for his students during a class this week:
    “I told students to write a letter to their grandchildren telling them of this election and how they experienced it. What did they think? What conversations or reactions did they have? They should be completely honest about their feelings and experiences. They should also recognize that when they read their letter in five years, they will be surprised and wonder who that person was who wrote it. Still, when they were my age, they would be very glad they had done it and would say to themselves, ‘Where is that guy buried? I want to put a flower on his grave for telling us to do this.’
    This is an emotional appeal to capture some of the energy we are feeling in these moments of global change, not only with the election of our new president, but also as we pass through historic changes in our global economy, culture and conflicts.
    What Ron is describing is a spiritual response to this almost overwhelming moment. Of course, he isn’t the first—not by a long shot. Thousands of years ago, people also wrote letters to the future about the times they were facing and a collection of those pieces is read to this day. We call them Psalms.

    So, take Ron’s advice and write. Write for yourself. Write to us. Or, you also can visit the http://www.OurValues.org/ Web site where there are daily questions for reflection on values and our place in the world at this moment.


‘ve rarely received as many warm responses to a story as I’ve received to “The Dog in the Doorway,” which I posted almost the moment we landed back in the U.S. from our pilgrimage into Scotland. If you missed it, here’s a quick link to visit this well-traveled dog.
    Many of us understand the spiritual power of stories. Ron knew that (in the item above) when he told his students to write letters. Mary knew that (above) when she reflected on the films about “invisible” women. Ben Pratt knew that when he decided to invite readers to reflect on the tales of James Bond.
    Stories link our lives. This dog in a tiny town in remote western Scotland now has circled the globe in readers’ reflections.
    I’ve selected one especially vivid reader letter on the dog to illustrate the spiritual power of such stories. This came from Sister Susan Blomstad, OSF, of the Mission Renewal Center in Santa Barbara, California. She wrote:

Dear David:
    I took a 40-minute walk this morning in Santa Barbara where I live and work. I took with me a book by Chet Raymo entitled, “Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection Between Science and Religion.” The last chapter, “The Hallowing of Everyday,” has a recounting of his encounter with a great blue heron. Your story of the dog in church was another example of the voices we really need to hear in the world—not our own.
    In the final chapter of Raymo’s book, he says this: “I experience the heron with more than the eye and mind of science. I enter into a kind of communion with the heron, and feel—how can I say it?—a mutuality of relation. The fullness of the experience involves all that I am, all that I know, all that the heron is. Knowledge binds us—knower and known—yet the power of the experience is sudden awareness of what is not known. I stand on the shore of knowledge and look to the far horizon of mystery.”
    Great language pointing to what we all long to experience, sometimes with a heron and sometimes with a dog.
    Peace around and within, Sister Susan Blomstad, OSF

AND, with that letter, we say “Thanks” to all the readers we’ve quoted today!

  If you didn’t see your comment or suggestion show up 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 Emailit’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
    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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