A Sample ReadTheSpirit Planner (for week of 11/03/08)

ReadTheSpirit Planner
is a once-a-week newsletter we send out free-of-charge every Monday morning. Our readers include religious leaders, teachers, media professionals, writers, small-group leaders and a host of other “gatekeepers” and “decision makers.” The Planner’s focus is to: quickly outline the week’s observances, indicate major spiritual themes on the horizon, provide news related to the daily lives of subscribers, offer tips on places to find important online content — and we give forecasts of influential new books, films and magazines.

To Subscribe: SEND AN EMAIL to [email protected] and simply say: “subscribe.” Each Monday morning you’ll get the Planner via Email. You can cancel easily at any time with a click at the end of any newsletter.

Here’s what our Planner looked like for the week beginning November 3:

  At a glance, here’s what you need to navigate the world of faith this week …




We all know what Tuesday is, right? The birthday of Augustus Toplady, the author of the famous hymn “Rock of Ages.”


pretty much the level of religious holidays and observances in this
seven-day cycle. On Saturday, November 8, Catholics may remember the
700th anniversary of the death of John Duns Scotus, known as “The Subtle Doctor” for his sublime talent in theology.


Of course, many people argue that profoundly spiritual issues are at stake in Tuesday’s U.S. Election Day.
Just back from a couple of weeks in Europe, I can tell you — the rest
of the world is watching our American choice very closely.



“What Do We Do Next?”

around the world are raising this question with so many critical issues
facing all of humanity. That’s not hyperbole. There’s a global
awareness that choices made in the U.S. on Tuesday are among the most
crucial since World War II.

    Our ReadTheSpirit
team is back this week after a unique pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland,
during an October sabbatical from our Home Office. The current morning
liturgy at Iona Abbey (a destination of pilgrims for 1,400 years)
includes these words of daily prayer:

    “We will not offer to God

    “Offerings that cost us nothing.”

    It’s a prayerful
reminder that whoever claims the White House on Tuesday, this is an era
of change that calls on all of us to make new spiritual commitments to
peaceful cooperation in our worldwide community.




Time Inc. CEO Warns

Not to be “Delusional” about

Tough Times in Media

the heels of dire announcements of severe cutbacks by Conde Nast, it
was Time Warner’s turn to start airing bad news in recent days —
starting with 600 jobs to be cut almost immediately. The New York Times
is reporting that there’s still another shoe to drop at Time Warner,
when a new quarterly earnings report comes out on Tuesday, this week.
Almost certainly that report will continue a stream of red ink, perhaps
turning into a river. The NY Times points out that Time Warner already
is pooling journalists to share the duties across various magazines.
More of that is coming as staffing shrinks, the NY Times writes.

    Some of
the best coverage of these announcements is in Advertising Age, which
reported on Time Inc. CEO Anne Moore’s talk to media insiders a few
days ago. She called this era of change “an economic tsunami.” She also
said: “If you’re still sitting on your five-year plan, you’re

in media now is unfolding at a turbulent pace. And, what will remain
long term? According to Ad Age, Moore told the audience that there
always will be a demand for authoritative reporting of fact-based
information and media that “release stress” for the millions of
stressed-out men and women.


OK, So Here’s Some GOOD NEWS!

Grab Some Truly Free Grace

    You’ll have to act fast, though. Author Cathleen Falsani alerted fans of her new book, “Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace”:

a limited time, my gracious publisher is offering free downloads of the
entire, unabridged audio version (read by moi). If you’d like to listen
to my mellifluous vocal stylings for 5.5 hours or so, visit the link

not clear how long “a limited time” may be. It’s likely to continue
only until Zondervan racks up a certain number of downloads and feels
they’ve shared a pretty good sampling of Cathleen’s work among
potential readers.

    Here’s a
good way to think about this offer: Because Cathleen’s book is a great
discussion-starter for small groups, this is your chance to “listen in”
and start thinking about how you might use “Sin Boldly” with your group.

    If you missed it, click here to read our Conversation With Cathleen about her new book.


And Good Stories for Journalists, Bloggers

Lilly Endowment just announced its annual grants for Clergy Renewal —
which may sound like a retreat for rest and reflection. Hardly! These
138 clergy are heading out in all sorts of creative new directions!

years of reporting on the grassroots impact of religion across the
U.S., I read through this list of recipients fascinated about what
these folks are planning.

you’re among the writers, bloggers and other media professionals
reading this Planner, check out this list to find clergy in your
denomination or part of the country.

an idea of some of the projects. Lilly says: “One of the pastors, who
serves a congregation on a Native American reservation in Utah, will
use her renewal program to help that congregation recapture its
history; another who serves an urban church in Maryland will seek out
connections with churches in Africa. Another pastor will reflect on the
spiritual and communal aspects of bread baking and bread breaking.”



“My Jesus Year” on YouTube

    If you missed it, check out our Conversation With Benyamin Cohen, author of “My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith.”

    In recommending Benyamin and his new book, I wrote: “He’s funny. I mean he’s Anne Lamott funny. And, he’s friendly as he’s poking fun at others and at himself.”

    Well, Benyamin proves this in a brand-new YouTube “highlight reel”
from a talk just a few days ago at All Saints Episcopal Church in
Atlanta, Georgia. It’s less than 4 minutes long and you’ll get a feel
for Benyamin’s book and for his personal appearances.

really is trying to make a positive difference in interfaith
understanding and, while he’s had a number of invitations to speak in
Jewish venues, he hasn’t had all that many requests for appearances in
Christian settings. Take a look. He’s open to invitations to tour. His personal Web site is www.MyJesusYear.com
There’s an Alarm Clock Today

— Still Time to Take the Big Survey

    BUT time
is running out rapidly. Dr. Wayne Baker at the University of Michigan
Instititute for Social Research has set the Phase 1 of his major survey
on American values to end at 11:59 p.m. today, Monday, November 3.

    If you
go to the OurValues site and add your Email in the box in the upper
left corner quickly, you still can receive this opening survey. It
takes about 20 minutes and will be followed by a second wave

Baker, the University of Michigan researcher behind the OurValues Web
site, will continue to explore major themes in the news on a daily
basis — and will continue to ask for daily comments from readers.
That’s one important phase of the project.

    BUT the major survey he’s conducting via an online questionnaire closes Phase 1 by midnight. To take part, visit OurValues.org and add your Email address to the box in the upper-left corner.


This Week Inside ReadTheSpirit

We’re sharing several special stories this week from our trip through Scotland.

    Tuesday, we visit a Writer’s Museum to learn more about the tangible inspiration behind great spiritual writing.

    Wednesday, don’t
miss our Conversation With best-selling spiritual sage Matthew Fox
about his latest book: “The Hidden Spirituality of Men — 10 Metaphors
to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.”

    And, lest you think
this is just for men, let me point out that Fox’s cover is a huge
painting of a Green Man — the centuries-old image of rebirth and
reconnection with the natural world.

    On Thursday, we’ll share a fresh connection with another amazing site in Scotland — Roslyn Chapel, made famous by “The DaVinci Code.”

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