332: Readers Tell Us About … Clint Eastwood, the passing of a journalist-hero and much more …

ur mailbag is bursting this week! So, let’s immediately get to the news you’ve sent us. And PLEASE, send us a note right now! We love to hear from readers!



Mark your calendar for Wednesday — and include a New Year’s Resolution to enjoy the 2nd Annual Interfaith Heroes Month with us throughout January. The celebration kicks off Wednesday in a special Conversation With Dr. Susan Garrett, author of the new book, “No Ordinary Angel” — a look at the widespread interest in angels. That’s our treat for New Year’s Eve.
    Then, on New Year’s Day, you’ll find the first of 31 stirring stories about “interfaith heroes” around the world. Each hero dared to cross interfaith boundaries to make peace, save lives or strengthen the global community in other ways.
    The most famous hero in this annual observance, celebrated by all Americans in January, is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But heroes aren’t simply chapters in history. We can find stories of inclusive heroism many places — including movie theaters. At the moment, Clint Eastwood is starring in the fictional story of a bigot who learns to welcome his Asian-American neighbors, and eventually risks his life to defend these newcomers.
    We’re not alone in saluting Clint Eastwood’s film today! Covering spiritual connections in media is an enormous challenge and, here at ReadTheSpirit, we regularly share readers back and forth with other Web sites, including the big hub for book and film reviews hosted by Fred and Mary Ann Brussat: Spirituality and Practice.
    Fred Emailed this week to offer links to their year-end “best” lists and we’re pleased to recommend these intriguing lists the Brussats have compiled.
    Here’s a link to the Brussats’ “Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2008,” including Eastwood’s “Gran Torino.”
    And here’s a link to the Brussats’ “Best Spiritual Books of 2008.”
    Thanks for sharing these lists, Fred!



eroes who welcome diversity aren’t all famous. An Email this week from journalist Raad Alawan reminds us that some heroes change lives — and help to transform communities — often without a lot of personal hoopla.
    Raad is a top video, print and new-media journalist. He’s the man at the helm of “Your Community Voice,” a regional magazine in Michigan and also a Web site featuring uplifting stories. During Ramadan, Raad was the co-creator of our www.SharingRamadan.info project, which now is becoming an ongoing www.SharingIslam.info section in our larger online magazine.
    Raad also is an Arab-American Muslim — part of an important, pioneering wave of Arab-American-Muslim writers and filmmakers. Raad’s Email to ReadTheSpirit was a heart-felt tribute, written to mark the passing of an elderly man named Frank Bewick in Raad’s hometown of Dearborn, Michigan.
    Bewick was an important journalist himself for many years, although his name isn’t famous nationally. Here’s what Raad wrote about his friend and strong supporter: (The photo above shows Mr. Bewick with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.)

    Frank Bewick, publisher of Your Community Voice and Dearborn Times Herald, died yesterday (Christmas Eve).

    The cause was heart failure, his sons said.

    In nearly a half century at The Dearborn Times Herald, Mr. Bewick led
one of the few family-run publications in the region. After the
terrible tragedy on September 11, 2001, he decided to create a
publication to dispel the notion that all Arabs were bad people because
he always believed that “Arabs were good people too.” And in September
2004, Your Community Voice was born, giving a voice to the otherwise
voiceless; bringing forth stories of local Arab Americans that reaffirm
the strength of the human spirit.

    On a personal note, he created for me a vehicle to carry positive
stories and happy endings, something that’s too often lost in the gloom
and doom world of mainstream media. For that, I am thankful because it
has created positive energy in the community.

    And yet the man who created all that is gone, done in by the very organ that truly defined him: his heart.

    He is survived by his two sons, Mike and Scott, and daughter Lori.  His wife Anne died earlier this year.

    Frank was 82.

errr, we mean … REVIEWS AGAIN!

    We write a lot about the death of older forms of print media, here at ReadTheSpirit, but we write far more about pioneers who are rethinking the way we make spiritual connections through media.
    Graphic novelist and historian Steve Sheinkin is truly one of those pioneers, blending his love of history (he’s written clever history books for younger readers for years) — with his love of Judaism and comic-book style. We’ve written about Steve here a number of times over the past year.
    This past week, Steve Emailed us about yet another step his brave hero, Rabbi Harvey of the Wild West, has taken in new media. Rabbi Harvey apparently aspires to be a book critic. He’s now presenting an online, comic-style, interactive review of Howard Schwartz’s “Leaves from the Garden of Eden.
    Very cool, Steve! Thanks for alerting us. (If you click to Rabbi Harvey’s review on a slower Internet connection, let the digital file load for a moment, then flip the pages and enjoy the Western sage’s wisdom.)



Thanks to writer, playwright and ReadTheSpirit reader Beth Miller for sending along an Email to close out the year with a word of prayer. You’ll read more about Beth in 2009, because she played a key role in ReadTheSpirit’s Christian-Muslim pilgrimage to the fabled isle of Iona off Scotland’s northwest coast.
    In sending along this poem of prayer, written by Irish writer John O’Donohue, Beth also allowed me to correct an error. I nearly closed out 2008 without recommending to readers one of my own favorite books of 2008 — O’Donohue’s “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.”
    Here are the lines Beth chose to illustrate John’s work and to help us all close a tumultuous year with a hope of spiritual strength through connection with other people — and not just any connection, but Anam Cara, Gaelic for Soul Friend, the hope that good friends somehow mystically connect at the deepest level of spirit.
    Share these lines then with John, Beth, me and all the folks at ReadTheSpirit:

May you be blessed with good friends,
And learn to be a good friend to yourself,
Journeying to that place in your soul where
There is love, warmth and feeling.
May this change you.

May it transfigure what is negative, distant,
Or cold within your heart.

May you be brought into real passion, kindness
And belonging.

May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them, be there for them
And receive all the challenges, truth and light you need.

May you never be isolated but know the embrace
Of your Anam Cara.

“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.
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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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