614: Four stories on the Force of Faith … inspiring, tragic, disturbing, inspiring

Thank you readers for a terrific week! We invite you to keep sending us notes at [email protected] … meanwhile, here’s a quick overview of these 4 fascinating stories.

STORY 1: Gumby, Davey & Goliath and Salinger

    Our story reported on the passing of Art Clokey and J.D. Salinger and asked about their legacy in YOUR lives.
    “I still can’t sing ‘A Mighty Fortress’ without thinking of that boy and his dog,” wrote Tom Stone from Chicago about the TV series.
    “I’m curious if girls’ and guys’ experiences were different with Salinger,” wrote Katee Havens from Orlando. “Never liked the book myself.” (Readers, what do you think?)
    The single coolest call came from Stuart Matlins, head of the Skylight Paths and Jewish Lights publishing houses, based in Vermont.
    “I was surprised to find four letters from Salinger were just put online by the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York,” Stuart said. “He apparently had quite a relationship with the center. These are copies of his original letters with hand-marked revisions and all. They’ve got a remarkable style and warmth to them.”
    I immediately visited the Web site, myself. Yes, indeed, these are fascinating letters for those of us whose lives intersected with Salinger’s books—and his quirky reputation. Matlins himself works in Woodstock and Windsor, Vermont. And, Windsor is just over the state line from Cornish, New Hampshire, where Salinger quietly lived his life. But, Matlins isn’t aware of ever having crossed paths with the reclusive writer.
    “He was so private,” Matlins said. “So, I’m surprised to see these letters online—but there they are.”
    Or, rather: Here the letters are on the group’s Web site. Also, if you’re intrigued about the group, Skylight has published a number of books with the center over the years. Matlins recommends this title in particular: “Selections from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.”

STORY 2: The Heroic Four Chaplains

    If our Monday story was a bit spiritually vague—the inspiration was crystal clear in Tuesday’s account of the Four Immortal Chaplains. “The moment it’s described, you certainly can see that image of the four, arm in arm, can’t you!?!” said a friend over coffee this week. A quick tip on the chaplains: The Wikipedia link in the chaplains story leads to a listing of memorial sites across the U.S.

STORY 3: Religious Rocket Fuel & Suicide Bombers

    “I’ve got to think about this,” said a freelance writer who specializes in writing about religious diversity. “Saints and suicide bombers sharing anything? It’s … it’s … mind-bending to think about it this way.”
    “I agree,” I said. “And wait until you actually read the book. There are passages here about Gandhi, for example, that I know will surprise you.
    Indeed, it takes a while to ponder Dr. Ariel Glucklich’s provocative theories about links between religious pleasure or ecstasy—and suicidal attacks on innocents. These ideas are troubling, yet they may hold keys to new strategies for stopping potential killers.
    Glucklich makes it clear that his own aim is to aid in “devising methods to neutralize religious self-destructiveness.”

STORY 4: The Brave Bishop who Faced Down Guns

    Thursday’s story is long and involves lots of challenging names and places—but it’s one of the most important stories ReadTheSpirit will publish this month. As a longtime newspaper journalist who now is Editor of ReadTheSpirit, I know first hand how rare it is to find reliable English-language accounts of the transformations across eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
    Shortly after revolutions had swept through countries like East Germany, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia 20 years or so ago, I was on the ground in that region reporting on the catalytic role played by religious groups.
    Just as Dan Buttry reported on Thursday from Georgia’s more recent Rose Revolution—and other waves of revolution in that region—the fact is that religious groups often have been the only grassroots networks brave enough to face down guns.
    After the fact, finding reliable reports of the roles played by such groups is extremely difficult. I can remember, myself, scouring through major eastern European cities looking for documented accounts of what unfolded—and finding precious little preserved about these titanic events.
    That’s why we’re proud to have produced Thursday’s story about the brave Bishop Malkhaz. It’s a terrific, inspiring real-life drama!


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    Not only do we welcome your notes—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
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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