Now everyone is back at work or school—and we’re all fully focused on the year ahead. So, it’s time to publish our annual “10 to Watch” list. Last year’s list, for example, included Philip Newell and 2009 was, indeed, the year he completed his glorious “Celtic Mass for Peace.” Before 2009 ended, I was able to stand with Philip, Barbara Brown Taylor (also on our ’09 list) and others in the high desert of New Mexico to hear portions of that Mass unfold in a breathtaking natural setting.
So, let’s see how our prophetic naming of Spiritual Sages goes in 2010? Look at this list and, please, Email us at [email protected] with thoughts, ideas, reactions and nominees of other spiritual sages.
AND NOW …
“ReadTheSpirit’s 10 Spiritual Sages to Watch in ’10”
Anthems, Lullabies and Clarion Calls for a New Spiritual Community
Thank God there are writers with voices like Carrie Newcomer!
I’ve been listening to a preview copy of her new album, “Before and After,” for a couple of weeks and I can’t recall encountering an album I enjoyed this much in years. Let me put it simply: I want to go to a church where Carrie Newcomer music is part of the repertoire! I want to be sitting in a pew when a choir performs, “If Not Now—Tell Me When!” If this album doesn’t electrify you, then check your spiritual circuit breakers.
Stay tuned to ReadTheSpirit, because you’ll meet Carrie in coming weeks—close to the release of Before and After in February. Here’s the page on Carrie’s Web site about her upcoming album.
Who is she? Well, as a 50-something Baby Boomer, her voice reminds me of Carly Simon in her prime. But, it’s actually her gifts as a writer that are truly startling. She writes with greater clarity about our spiritual journey than most pastors can preach about it. For instance: How can we possibly describe the “elusive and subtle” joy of God’s grace, she asks. “I Don’t Know Its Name,” she confesses, then evokes a summertime trip on a back road and tells us: “I believe it must taste like peaches eaten by the roadside.” (The image at top today is from Carrie’s earlier “The Geography of Light,” which we also recommend and you can order right now from Amazon. The photo at right is her new album cover, coming soon.)
Dazzlingly Diverse Network of Women Teaches the Power of Friendship
Watch the pages of ReadTheSpirit, because—in coming weeks—you’ll meet this amazing network of women representing virtually all of the world’s historic faith traditions. Dozens of these women have worked for a year to collect their personal stories about “Friendship and Faith” into a new book that places our spiritual focus where everything else begins: building relationships. Their book is coming soon!
WISDOM co-founder and president Gail Katz just contributed her overview of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia.
THE REV. MAE CANNON:
Major Insights into Social Justice from an Evangelical Woman Pastor
Notice that we’re writing a lot about women? Well, women comprise more than half of our readership. TAKE NOTE MEDIA PROFESSIONALS: If you share this extremely important spiritual niche in media with us—more than half of your audience is comprised of women, as well. Have you visited an urban congregation recently? Look around: a majority of women. Have you made an honest assessment of who keeps your local congregations running? More women than men.
But who is more likely to have spiritual reflections published? Men.
Clearly, it’s time to lift up women’s voices.
When we spotted Mae Cannon’s new nuts-and-bolts guidebook to Social Justice for evangelical churches—then learned more about her brilliant work as a pastor—well, we had to introduce her to ReadTheSpirit readers in an in-depth interview.
Let me simply repeat the phrase again: She is the Rev. Mae Cannon, an evangelical woman pastor.
BARBARA BROWN TAYLOR:
Throwing Open Mainline Doors and Windows
Once again, stay tuned! Here’s our 2009 interview with Barbara, one of the most-read articles among the hundreds published last year at ReadTheSpirit. We will be talking with her again, soon, as her popular, “An Altar in the World,” is released in its paperback edition.
A Fresh Approach to Interreligious Relationships
OK, time to let a few men into this inclusive list.
If you missed it, you’ll enjoy reading our in-depth interview with Samir Selmanovic, author of “It’s Really All About God.” Samir was born in eastern Europe into a secular Muslim family and wound up working as an Adventist pastor in Manhattan. He’s a breath of fresh air in interfaith relations!
You’ll be hearing a lot more by and about Samir in 2010.
DR. OMID SAFI:
Muslim Scholar Paints a New Portrait of Prophet Muhammad
A decade after 9/11, it’s shocking to realize how little Americans know about the Prophet Muhammad. Of course, it’s sad that global fears have inspired these years of interest in Islam—but, whatever the motivation behind this thirst for learning, we haven’t actually learned much about the central human figure in Islam.
Omid Safi is meeting that need with an essential new biography of the Prophet. Just last week, we published an in-depth interview with Omid Safi.
From “Purpose Driven” to Political Dabbling
It’s a slam dunk that Americans are aware of this guy whose lifetime book sales have surpassed 30 million copies. That’s more books than Mitch Albom and up there in the Betty Crocker and Harry Potter Stratosphere of publishing. Often compared with Billy Graham, Rick Warren has a major challenge this year in sorting out his rocky political relationships.
In coming weeks, we’ll take a look at Warren through an interview with Jeffrey Sheler, the author of a fascinating new biography of Warren.
Continuing to Surprise Us With New Ways of Connecting People
Our own nomination for the spiritual mantle of the great Billy Graham is Rob Bell, not because Rob is building a Bill-style organization. He’s not at all. But, beyond the structures Billy built, he became a world-class figure in the 20th Century because he was an innovator. Billy took down barriers between black and white worshipers. Billy set new standards for financial accountability. Billy’s rules for ethical behavior continue to be the gold standard for the best evangelists. His honesty was unwavering and sometimes surprising.
Rob is that kind of innovator. In 2010, Rob is poised to surprise the world, once again. You thought his Noomas were cool? Well, they’re—well, they’re sooo yesterday … He produced his last Nooma in 2009.
COME BACK Wednesday, this week, for a Conversation With Rob Bell on what lies ahead in 2010.
Meanwhile, here’s a link to our earlier interview with Rob, when he first hit the road on his “Drops Like Stars” world tour—a journey that continues into 2010.
SETH GODIN, his latest FREE BOOK and MORE:
Speaking of Innovation: A Marketing Guru Preaching Inspiration?
Professionals working seriously in new media keeps tabs on the bald guy with the powerful ideas. Seth Godin truly is a marketing guru, not because of the hype about his long string of projects—but because his projects actually work (well, they work enough of the time to prove his wisdom convincingly). Even when he occasionally fails, the failures shape his next successes.
So now he’s giving away a FREE BOOK and he actually encourages people to pass around his book virally through as many Web sites as possible. So, download a free copy of “What Matters Now” by Seth Godin by simply clicking here and saving the file. Go ahead! And, tell us what you think!
FINALLY, INDIE MOVIE DISTRIBUTORS:
In a Fragile Moment, Please Support Facets, Zeitgeist and Others
You may think that the world’s media is at your fingertips 24/7 these days—but we’re actually at a fragile moment in history in which global cinema actually is becoming LESS available to you and your community. Distributors are switching formats for direct sales to consumers. Stores are carrying less titles. Yes, Netflicks appears to have an endless list of titles—but many world renowned films are simply not available to American viewers.
Of course, most ReadTheSpirit readers would argue that we’re at a moment when we need to know much MORE about global cultures than ever before.
What can you do? Well, keep in touch with ReadTheSpirit. We make a point of reviewing important documentary films appearing on the PBS network, for example. We also review relevant titles coming to DVD from the non-profit Facets group—as well as Zeitgeist, Menemsha and other distributors. If you can this year, keep your eyes open for indie films, documentaries and global cinema—and help support those folks trying to bring good stuff into our communities.
Here’s an example from 2009, a review of Facet’s milestone DVD release of “Private Century.”
CARE TO READ MORE?
One Week Ago, we opened this new decade with “10 New Year’s Resolutions,” a list of 10 terrific books to get your spiritual energies flowing for this challenging new year.
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(Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)