427: East-West Connections are among the most popular at ReadTheSpirit

Our readers circle the globe and visit our online magazine for many reasons. Right at this moment, for example, some people are visiting Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues.org section of our magazine to express themselves on urgent issues. (Today, they’re talking about the springtime epidemic of academic cheating.) Other men and women, right now, are reading our “Spiritual Season” column that alerts people to the festivals, holidays and anniversaries of our neighbors.
    Many people visit for our weekly “Conversation With” famous writers and filmmakers.
    But one of the most popular themes at ReadTheSpirit—month after month—is East-West connection. Why? First, millions of Americans have made this connection in daily life. It’s an important part of life for so many people living in the U.S., but this is a subject largely ignored these days in mainstream American journalism.
    We’re working on changing that. On Wednesday, for example, we’re featuring a special Conversation With author John Kiser about an exceptional hero who once won the respect of President Abraham Lincoln. Kiser’s book is, “Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader.” Kiser is using his book and the inspiration of the emir in innovative ways, including a recent essay contest for high school students. We’re encouraging that effort and, in coming days, we’ll also publish text from the winning essays.
    That’s the kind of creative, community-building effort that can spring from making this kind of connection.

TODAY WE WANT TO REMIND YOU of some of the most popular East-West stories we’ve published. We could define Asia in such a way that we would include many more of our Jewish and Muslim stories—but, today, we’re focusing especially on connections with India and eastern Asia.

    One of our most popular Conversations features Brother Chidananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship, an organization that stems from a historic meeting between an Indian teacher and curious Americans in the early 20th Century.
     Another Conversation that continues to draw readers features Deepak Chopra, talking about his two books on the life of Jesus.
    We also feature Conversations with Americans who are establishing fresh spiritual connections with the East. Here’s a Conversation with a couple of independent filmmakers who produced the feature-length documentary “ONE” and have had an impact, now, all around the world. Or, still in the realm of film, here’s a popular Conversation with filmmaker Stephen Simon, whose Spiritual Cinema Circle continues to make fresh East-West connections.
    In book form, Mitch Horowitz is very important in recovering an accurate history of East-West contact within American religious life. Geri Larkin, who we’ve featured a number of times in our pages, is among the most important American-Buddhist writers today. Here’s one Conversation with Geri.

    One of our week-long series was published in early 2008. Here’s a link to Part 1 of that Asian series. The most popular part of that series was a story of Chinese TV newscaster Jenny Luo and her search for spiritual meaning—a story that included multimedia clips from a temple she visits. Another portion of the series that draws readers to this day is a story that includes videos of Muslim boys in a remote school memorizing the Quran.

INTERFAITH HEROES, a project that has produced a new book each year plus an ongoing Web site that’s read especially by teachers and students, was created along with author and global interfaith activist Daniel Buttry. Dan wrote the first two books in the series. Here’s an in-depth Conversation With Dan, who we describe as “the hero behind all the heroes.”
    Dan’s global peacemaking work for American Baptist Churches has a particular focus in various parts of Asia, so both volumes of “Interfaith Heroes” include inspiring stories from those lands.
    Here are just a few examples you can find permanently housed within the pages of our online magazine. (And we’re learning that teachers and students, in particular, regularly make use of profiles like these. Good, balanced, independently written profiles of these figures often are difficult to find online.)
    A.T. Aryiaratne—”a deeply devout Buddhist who has fused the teachings of
Buddha with the activist philosophy of Gandhi to develop a potent and
broad approach to the complex problems experienced by the poor of his
    Karim al-Hussayni, Aga Khan IV, a Muslim prince from Pakistan and—”a leader in a worldwide
educational movement to equip people to live in a diverse world rather
than give in to the fears of a clash of civilizations.

    Thich Nhat Hanh, the world-famous Buddhist peace activist.
    AND, from our Volume 1 book in January 2008, Yogi Bhajan—a strong advocate for world peace and religious unity widely known for his efforts on behalf of healthy living and peaceful approaches to justice for minorities.
    OR, you might simply care to look around yourself at the “Interfaith Heroes” home page, which contains links to dozens more stories—and information about who else is profiled in the two books.


     This is a good 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. The Planner
goes out each week to readers who want more of an “inside track” on
what we’re seeing on the horizon, plus it’s got a popular “holidays”

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anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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