Rusty Rosman invites us to shape our own legacies through ‘Two Envelopes’

Rusty Rosman, author of Two Envelopes.

Rusty Rosman, author of Two Envelopes, welcomes invitations to speak with discussion groups and classes either in person or via Zoom. Click on this photo of Rusty to visit her main author page online, where you can learn much more about her upcoming book—and how to connect directly with Rusty. (Photo by Rodney Curtis.)


‘What You Want Your Loved Ones to Know When You Die’

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

In 17 years as the Editor in Chief of our publishing house, we’ve published lots of books with helpful resources for individuals and families—knowing that these books are keys to resilience, hope and peace in our world. Every day, our publishing house team-members are guided by our founding mission: “Good media builds healthy communities.”

That goal certainly is met by Rusty Rosman’s unique new book, Two Envelopeswhich is launching across Amazon and other bookstores around the world on February 20.

The book’s subtitle is What You Want Your Loved Ones to Know When You Die.

If that subtitle sounds grim—just consider for a moment what Rusty tells readers on her first page: “It’s not always easy to think about dying—but each of us will, ready or not.”

In short, we all need this book.

How does this book build “resilience and hope”? By explaining a step-by-step process through which each of us—whatever our age might be right now—can clearly express what we hope our legacy will be in the world. We follow Rusty’s wise guidance as we read through the pages of this book, then we prepare our materials as she suggests, and finally we store them for the future in—yes, Two Envelopes.

Does this book really contribute to “peace in our world”? Certainly! If you have not already experience this yourself, then—as a lifelong journalist—I can tell you that millions of families have experienced deep hurt from arguments over “who does what” and “who gets what” as part of Mom’s or Dad’s legacy. One reason Two Envelopes is such a valuable guidebook is that those stumbling blocks can be removed as we outline our own expectations for our families—then save that record of our hopes for the future.

And, yes, that’s truly can be a powerful, loving act of family peacemaking.

Who should buy this book?

Everyone.

As Rusty puts it so clearly—death will come for all of us. Every one of us hopes that our legacy will be positive and loving. We don’t want to leave confusion or, worse yet, a family feud in our wake. Rusty’s book leads readers through that whole process of thinking about the future—and then laying out what we hope will happen after we’ve left this place.

Early readers who have gone through her book describe it as a self-revealing and wonderfully reassuring process of reflecting on the meaning and the ultimate impact of our lives.

Early reviewers say Rusty’s book “gives us peace of mind,” “a sense of control over how things will be handled in my family,” “compassion” and that the book even provides a much-appreciated dose of “love” to our families and friends.

“This book is an incredible gift to/for your family,” wrote Ida Goutman, an expert in counseling individuals and families.

“I truly believe that everyone could benefit from following the guide that she has provided,” wrote Joshua Tobias, one of Michigan’s leading funeral directors.

Get the book and connect with Rusty now

You can pre-order your copy right now in hardcover, paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

Or, if you prefer, you can order hardcover, paperback or eBook from Barnes & Noble.

Even the giant retailer Walmart has decided to carry this book among its online offerings.

In fact, you can buy this book from bookstores nationwide. If you have a favorite neighborhood bookstore, stop in now and ask at the counter to pre-order a copy of Two Envelopes. Rusty’s book is distributed worldwide by the wholesale giant Ingram, which serves nearly every bookstore in North America.

And Consider Connecting with Rusty

In 2024, Rusty Rosman will be crisscrossing the U.S. both in person and virtually. She’s a delightful speaker and workshop leader who you can invite to appear easily via Zoom if you would like her to talk with your small group or class.

How do you reach Rusty? Simply visit this Front Edge Publishing author page, scroll down a bit and you will find all of Rusty’s contact information.

Jeffrey Munroe on the power of ‘Telling Stories in the Dark’: ‘When we tell our stories, others find their own healing and hope’

Click on this cover to visit the book’s Amazon page, where it will be available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover after the January 30, 2024, launch date. So, please order now for prompt delivery. The book also is available via Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Bookshop.org and other bookstores nationwide. And there’s even more: Readers also can learn much more about this book—and can download a free discussion guideby visiting the Reformed Journal Books page.

In Recognizing the Harmonies between Our Stories, We May Rediscover God’s Creative Music in Our World

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Healing. Hope.

Don’t those two words sound wondrously powerful? And—don’t those two words seem desperately needed by all of us in our troubled world, today? That’s why I responded so enthusiastically on behalf of our publishing house the moment journalist, author and pastor Jeffrey Munroe proposed his new book to me.

“Telling our stories—that’s where we find healing and hope,” Jeff said to me and instantly I knew I was collaborating with a kindred spirit. Of course, I was already a fan of Jeff’s earlier book-length introduction to the works of our mutual mentor Frederick Buechner, Reading Buechner. I have been a life-long reader of everything Buechner has written and, as a journalist myself, had the opportunity to interview Buechner several times over the decades.

Both Jeff and I credit our mentor with laying out this wisdom about storytelling. Here’s just one of Buechner’s many formulations of this powerful truth:

“My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. … It is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.”

This week, our publishing house team is preparing to launch Jeff’s bookTelling Stories in the Dark: Finding healing and hope in sharing our sadness, grief, trauma, and pain. In preparing this news to share with the world, we asked early readers of this book what questions they hope interviewers will ask Jeff as he embarks on a series of public outreach events.

And please stay tuned to our ReadTheSpirit weekly magazine—and to the magazine where Jeff is the Editor, The Reformed Journalfor an ongoing series of news items about the many ways Jeff and his new book will be touching lives around the world in 2024. (By the way: There’s even a “Books” section now in The Reformed Journal’s website for news about this new book and future books we plan to produce with Reformed Journal partners over the next few years.)

Questions Readers Want to Ask Jeffrey Munroe

Jeffrey Munroe with his wife Gretchen in Holland, Michigan. Their mutual story also is a part of this book.

We’re starting our public outreach this week—as we count down to the national release of Jeff’s book on January 30—by asking the questions most folks hoped we would ask him.

Question: How did you come to write Telling Stories in the Dark? What led you to be interested in this topic?

Jeffrey Munroe’s Answer: The pandemic set me on this path. I knew seven people who died in the first year of the COVID pandemic and that made me think: If I know seven people, imagine the multiples of what this means across the general population? How in the world do we even talk about such enormous, widespread loss? I was having trouble reckoning with the loss myself—and I realized we all would need fresh resources, ideas for finding help together.

Also, my book Reading Buechner had launched just a few months before the pandemic hit and I lost opportunities to talk about that book because so many things were cancelled. But, I did find myself talking about the book with people at a church in my hometown—and I mentioned Buechner’s idea of “stewardship of pain”—and a woman asked me if I would talk with her further about that idea. When I began talking with her, I realized that I didn’t have as many answers as she had questions about this. What does it mean to work with our pain in ways that will lead us toward hope and healing? So, that woman’s questions led me to want to know much more about this. And, the fact that she asked me those questions showed me something else: We tend to think about pain or the experience of loss as something that happens to us individually—but talking about these stories opens doors to others.

I kept thinking about that question: What would it mean, after experiencing a loss or trauma, if we took that experience and did something with it that might bring healing to ourselves and to others?

Frederick Buechner flips a parable to explore ‘the stewardship of pain’

Question: How does this new book build on Reading Buechner, your previous book?

Answer: Reading Buechner is not a biography of Frederick Buechner, although I do cover biographical details. He was a prolific memoirist himself, so readers tend to know a lot about his life already, plus there have been academic, critical reflections on his life and work published on several occasions. Instead, I wrote this book for people who may have heard his name and are curious enough to wonder: What should I read? There are so many books out there you could choose—and he was a master of multiple genres, so you could choose novels or memoirs or other kinds of books! So, in Reading Buechner, I took 10 of his 40 books that I consider essentials and helped readers to see why those were good starting points.

If readers are looking for the phrase “the stewardship of pain,” I found it in an essay titled Adolescence and the Stewardship of Pain in the book The Clown in the Belfry. Buechner looks at the parable of the ‘talents’ in Matthew 25 in which Jesus tells about a man going on a journey who gives pieces of his property to be managed by his servants. Usually, in all the sermons I’ve heard about this passage, it’s about how we should manage our resources, our money and property, a pretty literal reading of the parable. But Frederick Buechner totally flips the parable around by asking: What if pain is the thing we’re given in life—and our temptation is to bury that pain and hold it inside of ourselves. The reality is that burying pain doesn’t work. Anything we bury like pain won’t stay buried. So what could it mean if we tried to do something redemptive with that pain?

People are willing to share their stories—if we are prepared to listen

Question: How did you find people to tell their stories in this book?

Answer: That’s the rub here. I did wonder: Are people willing to take the risk of sharing these kinds of stories? I discovered that, yes, people are willing to tell their stories if you ask them—and you are prepared to spend the time to listen carefully.

I’m finding this in discussion groups, too. Even before the book’s launch date, I’ve been able to discuss the book with early readers. I’m hearing some remarkable stories shared in those discussion groups. People are willing to share—even though our culture for many years has told us to hide these kinds of experiences. If we encounter loss and trauma, we’re told by lots of well-meaning people around us that we should just “get over it” as quickly as possible. But it doesn’t work that way. These stories are deep inside of us and can keep affecting us sometimes for many many years.

Instead, when we name our pain and talk about it with others, we find not only healing and hope ourselves—but others can find their own healing and hope. That’s what Frederick Buechner is talking about in that famous quote about telling our stories so others can recognize their own.

An insight shared with the 12 Step movement

Question: And this is an insight that lies at the core of the 12 Step movement, as well. That’s what Bill W discovered and it has helped millions of lives around the world. As recently as November, I was moved by actor Hank Azaria’s tribute in the New York Times to Matthew Perry for taking him to a 12 Step meeting. So, this idea of the transformative power of telling our stories rests on a deep foundation, doesn’t it?

Answer: Even Frederick Buechner once said that the church should look a lot more like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting than it does.

Question: And, of course in your book, you welcome into each chapter this wide range of experts and scholars to talk about these gripping true stories we’re reading. That makes this book a real page-turner! As each chapter opens, we are immersed in another compelling true story, then in the second half of the chapter, an expert discusses that story with you. I know as I read your book, I began starting each chapter wondering: Will I be able to spot the key moments in the story that the expert will highlight?

Millions of books have been published and it’s possible someone else has used that format, but it seemed unique to me—that chapter-by-chapter pairing of people. How did you come up with that format of matching a different expert with each story?

Answer: I’m proud to say that I thought of that format myself. And part of that idea may have been because I’m a journalist. As journalists, we’re not setting ourselves up as The Expert; our role is to find people to interview who are the real experts.

When I started working on this book, I did try to read as much as I could in these fields of pain, loss and trauma—but I realized that the best use of my skills was to act as a reporter and interview people who know a lot about these issues. So, then, my challenge became: Can I match each person telling their story with someone who has real wisdom and insight into that kind of experience? I think that matching of people in each chapter really is a unique strength of this book.

For people of all ages

Question: Is this book intended solely for people who have gone through tragedy? Who is your target
audience?

Answer: No, this isn’t just for people who have gone through tragedy. This is a book for all of us, because we all will go through some kind of tragedy or a loved one will—even if we have not experienced that already.

Question: I’m thinking of Queen Elizabeth’s comment after the attacks on 9/11: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Just as Buechner wrote about it, pain is something that happens in life—it’s something we all can expect to receive. And that makes this book appropriate for a very wide age range, doesn’t it? Can’t you imagine how different a discussion among college students might be from a discussion among older adults?

Answer: I’ve already heard that, yes. I shared this with an adult education class at a church and I asked: “Who do you see as the audience for this book?”

One woman said, “It ought to be a text in a senior seminar at every college. This is the kind of thing they should be talking about at that age. It’s equipment they need for living as they walk out into their lives.”

So, yes, I’m already hearing that this can be a good book for many different age groups.

Connecting with Jeffrey Munroe

Question: You mentioned that you’re available to lead discussions about Telling Stories in the Dark. How would someone go about reaching out to you?

Answer: Visit my website, JeffreyMunroe.com, then click on the “Contact” link.

If people visit my book’s page at ReformedJournal.com, they also will find a free Study Guide they can download to help with individual reflection or group discussions.

Ordering your own copy

Question: And where can readers purchase your book?

Answer: The book is available via Amazon, where readers can choose Kindle, paperback or hardcover editions. The book also is available via Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Bookshop.org and other bookstores nationwide.

Give the gift of Faith & Film for the new year, and become a friend of the remarkably prophetic Edward McNulty

MY MENTOR ED McNULTY IN A HISTORIC SUMMER—This is a rare photograph of the prophetic faith-and-film critic, the Rev. Edward McNulty, taken way back in 1964 when he was part of the life-and-death campaign known as Freedom Summer. That summer at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Ed was assigned to work at the Shaw Freedom Center in a tiny town in Mississippi. While in Shaw, one day, someone convinced him to pose for this photo with some of the young friends who attended that center’s educational programs.

Why should you subscribe to Ed’s Visual Parables Journal for 2024?

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Among all the journalists I have known over my half a century of reporting on religious and cultural diversity, the Rev. Edward McNulty holds a record: He is the single least-photographed journalist I have ever known.

That’s appropriate because what Ed wants us to look at is not himself. He wants us to look at the movie screens we all share, these days, and he also wants us to look deeply into the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to discover inspiring and thought-provoking connections.

At this point in his long life as a pastor, peace activist, journalist and author, Ed stands alone as the venerable dean of faith-based film critics. Back in the mid-20th Century, many major denominations had film critics—including the Catholic church. Some of those denominationally based critics had broad influence in that earlier era—but that official role faded in the ’80s, ’90s and now is largely forgotten.

But not Ed. He has been officially anointed and remains the film critic of the Presbyterian Church USA, a still-influential hold-over to that earlier era.

This is a vocation—a true calling—for Ed. In each weekly issue of our ReadTheSpirit magazine, Ed freely gives away faith-and-film reviews of new releases from Hollywood and production houses around the world. He reviews dramas, comedies, musicals, super-hero epics, animated films, bio-pics as well as indie productions, documentaries and sometimes streaming TV series. When he writes, his knowledge of both scriptures and film history is vast.

The one way Ed tries to support his ongoing travels to preview films and continue with his vocation is through selling annual subscriptions to Visual Parables Journal.

Please, right now, if you are a film lover who also cares about the roots of Abrahamic faith traditions, click here to visit Ed’s Visual Parables Journal page in our online magazine and consider subscribing. You’ll enjoy the next 12 issues, each one packed with the latest reviews as well as Ed’s widely used discussion guides for those movies—and you’ll be doing a small part in continuing Ed’s work.

One reason I am writing such an enthusiastic endorsement of Ed’s work is that he is one of my personal mentors—or, in the language of faith, a true guiding saint in my life. At this point, he now has a uniquely influential, inspirational and thought-provoking career in American journalism. I hope that I can continue writing such inspiring and prophetic columns as long as Ed has done—and continues to do.

There are many stories I could summarize here to illustrate my deep respect for Ed.

First, he was baptized by fire in his long-time support for civil rights. In the late 1950s, when he still was an undergraduate at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ed also worked part-time running an after-school program for children at a Presbyterian church. Because he felt moved by his faith to join an early civil rights protest in Indianapolis—aimed at breaking down racial barriers in hiring at a local chain of grocery stores—Ed was punished by church leaders. He was called up on charges in his denomination and was grilled by a Presbyterian panel of white church leaders who did not want their employees publicly siding with the city’s Black residents. You can read his column about that experience here.

Ed survived that psychologically abusive ordeal—ultimately strengthened in his own resolve to support Civil Rights. I admire his courage in 1964 in heading South to serve in the historic Freedom Summer. I was only 9 years old that year, but in my family I read about the courage of those Freedom Summer workers, who risked life and limb to help register Black voters. Today, I am honored to know and work with someone who served in that life-and-death campaign.

In 2014, Ed marked the 50th anniversary of that historic Freedom Summer with a column denouncing the movie Mississippi Burning, because of that film’s diminishment of local Black leaders’ courageous role in the civil rights movement. In that column, Ed shared some of his own experiences in Mississippi—and he agreed to publish the rare 1964 photograph I am sharing (above) today.

To this day, I am astonished at his courage—more than 1,000 people were arrested that summer, 80 of the volunteers were beaten and, most infamously, some were murdered. I also admire and take courage myself from Ed’s stories about that summer, including one of singing civil rights anthems in a small crowd led by Pete Seeger in a little church so hot that everyone’s shirts hung from their shoulders, soaked with sweat. He wrote a bit about that experience when Pete died at age 94.

That’s why my personal appeal, as the founding Editor of this online magazine and publishing house, is: Please, consider supporting the ongoing work of this remarkably prophetic journalist by subscribing to Visual Parables Journal.

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

If you care to read more, the book we publish with Ed is also a great choice for holiday gift giving: Jesus Christ—Movie Staravailable from Amazon.

What’s in that book?

You’ll find complete discussion guides, including tips on selecting short film clips to show to your group, on 12 films. Some are straight-forward depictions of Jesus: The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Jesus, The Miracle Maker, The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John, The Passion of the Christ, Son of God, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Some feature inspiring and thought-provoking stories that have made many moviegoers think of Jesus’s life, including: Jesus of Montreal, Cool Hand Luke, Bagdad Café, Broadway Danny Rose and Babette’s Feast. In addition, the book has shorter overviews of dozens other Jesus-themed movies.

Please, whatever your faith tradition may be—consider meeting Ed McNulty through his Visual Parables Journal or through Jesus Christ—Movie Star.

Make that a New Year’s Resolution for 2024 to kick-start your own engagement with peace and justice—through faith and film in our world today.

Ready for Christmas? Kara Eidson’s Stay Awhile reminds us that hospitality is a divine pursuit

Click on the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page. You can get the paperback within a matter of days from Amazon or other online retailers—or you can begin reading the Kindle version within minutes.

How will your family celebrate this season?

Consider a Commitment to the Christian Value of Hospitality

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Kara Eidson. This photo is from her video series that accompanies her new book, Stay Awhile, and is used with permission.

When I scheduled an interview with author Kara Eidson along with my daughter, the Rev. Megan Walther, a United Methodist pastor in Michigan—none of us could imagine what would erupt a few days later. We knew that the FBI was reporting religious and ethnic hate crimes at an all-time high across the U.S., but we had no idea that a horrific war would break out in the Middle East, driving hate crimes to even higher levels across the U.S.

Since then, our writers and authors have been working overtime trying to helpfully respond to the painful and often dangerous tensions in our communities, universities and workplaces. One example is this recent story by Howard Brown. Our many Jewish writers and readers already are talking about how their traditionally minor festival of Hanukkah will take on a much deeper resonance this year. In fact, as Editor of this magazine and publishing house, I have received scores of emails and other messages from our writers and readers around the world wondering how they can hope to bridge gaps among friends and neighbors ever again.

They will, of course. Hope and resilience that celebrates our religious and cultural diversity is the theme that has run through all 847 weekly issues of our online magazine. Collectively, our community of writers are specialists in resilience and hospitality. We know better times will come again.

But right now?

Right now, we’re all struggling every day to envision what hospitality looks like in our world.

As the Nativity season begins on November 15—

Now, as the “Christmas season” begins for the world’s 2.4-billion Christians—Kara’s focus on the timeless value of hospitality seems absolutely prophetic. This year’s season begins with the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Nativity Fast on November 15, 2023, and Western Christian Advent begins for the majority of Americans with the first Sunday in Advent on December 3, 2023.

I had invited Megan to join in the interview with Kara, who is the pastor of two churches in rural Kansas, so that Megan would add the perspective of grassroots ministry to our discussion of Kara’s new book, Stay Awhile—Advent Lessons in Divine HospitalityIn addition to her local pastoral ministry, Kara’s website illustrates her ongoing work as an author and educator.

So, how well will this new book appeal to everyday readers wanting a fresh source for individual reflection and group discussion in Advent? In our Zoom conversation, Megan served as our expert on that question. Megan told Kara:

“This is an intentionally pastoral book—and, by that, I mean you really know how to write in a way that draws people in. You tell stories we want to keep reading—and you lead us to just the right questions we should be asking. When I finished reading the book, as a pastor myself, I thought: I appreciate how practical this book is for Advent. I could hand this without fear to pretty much any parishioner and have them engage in a discussion about this book—and feel confident that it will go well and be helpful. You’ve set that up in the way you’ve so carefully organized everything in this book—even the accompanying videos. I appreciated those videos in particular. Today, I know people in congregations really enjoy having a video component to accompany their reading.”

At the end of this Cover Story, you can watch the first YouTube video in a series produced by Westminster John Knox (WJK Press) to accompany the various parts of Kara’s book.

Whatever your faith, hospitality also is a timeless American value

Kara appreciated our enthusiasm for her book and kept bringing our conversation back to her central theme: Hospitality.

And in emphasizing this value, she broadens her appeal beyond its religious tradition. She encourages all Americans to remember that hospitality is truly a heartland value. Even if you’re starting your Christmas season from a secular American cultural approach to life, Kara wants you to know:

Hospitality is as American as apple pie.

In that first video (below), Kara begins by telling us:

“I spent most of my childhood years living in the state of Kansas and I am a Midwestern girl through and through. And when you come to visit someone in a Midwestern home, or even in their office, and they want to chat with you, they say: ‘Pull up a chair and stay a while.’ That’s where we get the title for this book and the theme of this study. While there is a ton of worry and activity in the season leading up to Christmas day … the best part of Christmas isn’t all of the presents, not all of the wrappings, not all of the stuff—the best part of Christmas is when we gather together with people we love and we celebrate that love simply by staying awhile with one another.”

That’s also what Kara expressed in our three-way interview. On the day we talked, we had no idea what was about to erupt in our world. But, in hindsight, it’s crystal clear that Kara’s book points toward the perfect, timely theme for this holiday season: Coming together again as families and communities.

What’s in this book?

Stemming from values held deeply in the ancient world and translated through Jewish and Christian traditions, the timeless value of hospitality rests on the notion that there is divine purpose in welcoming people into our homes and communities. In religious traditions across various faiths, we are encouraged to recognize the divine spark in others. When welcoming a stranger, so the tradition goes, we might be welcoming a visitation of the divine. Jesus himself taught (look at Matthew 25) that when we welcome “the least of my brothers and sisters,” we are welcoming Jesus.

Kara’s book was written as a reminder of that rich tradition, which holds so much potential for healing communities especially in this era of intense polarization across America. One antidote to extreme division is relying on the timeless principles of wholehearted hospitality.

While that’s the core theme in Kara’s book, she divides her text into larger weekly and shorter daily reflections that readers can follow during Advent. If you are interested in exploring this season’s potential for building bridges with friends, neighbors and strangers in your community—then this book could be an inspiring companion on that journey.

Kara begins each week with readings from both the Hebrew scriptures, reaching into the Jewish roots of concern for our communities, and also from the Gospel stories of Jesus’s life. All along the way, she poses questions for personal reflection or small-group discussion.

So many practical ideas for your congregation

If readers are involved in the life of a congregation, Kara has included a section at the end of her book describing some of the creative ideas she has used during Advent worship services. Those resources include prayers adults can share with children—as well as prayers that can be used during the Christian custom of lighting “Advent candles” in the weeks before Christmas.

One idea that struck Megan as especially inviting is asking people in the community to bring in something from their home—perhaps an actual table setting—to be placed on a collective community table that will expand throughout Advent. More than simply showing off a table setting, Kara invites people to think of meaningful family stories they can share that are associated with these objects from their home.

“That’s one of the ideas in the Worship Arts section of your book that really interested me,” Megan said. “I can see that idea working well in small churches and also it could be adapted for larger churches like ours. That’s an idea I may borrow from your book. Can you tell me more about how you developed that idea?”

“This idea comes from some times in the past when I’ve invited people to bring objects from home into the church, along with the stories that accompany those objects—to share as part of sermon sermon series I’ve done,” Kara said. “I remember one series we did in which people brought in tabletop clocks, along with their stories. I’ve also had people bring in crafts they are making, while those crafts are still in progress, then people took them home—and brought them back the next week. Looking at those crafts, over time, we could those pieces grow and transform as people completed them. It was a powerful illustration of transformation over time. Then, for Advent, I like the idea of bringing in a table setting, or perhaps a serving piece, like a bowl, that’s been in their family. Together, these pieces could be arranged along a table—a table that illustrates hospitality.”

“I like that,” Megan said, “and especially the stories that come with those pieces.”

“Right,” Kara said. “There are so many ways to share those stories. You can put them in a weekly newsletter. You can print them on paper or in a booklet. People can tell their stories in a program.”

“And, I have to say: That’s just one of so many ideas in this book that I want to remember and borrow in the future,” Megan said.

So, this short book is both a toolbox of useful reflections, questions and prayers for your journey through Advent—and also a reminder that one of the truly divine values in the Christian tradition is hospitality.

Now more than ever, our world would be a better place if more of us who are involved in Christian communities remembered and embraced that timeless call to welcome and care for the whole world.

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Peggy Fletcher Stack and Kathleen Peterson invite families to explore ‘A World of Faith’

Click on the cover to visit the Amazon page for the expanded Second Edition of this book.


“An attractive, sensitively written book that can help young people better understand their playmates and neighbors who may be of different faiths. Such an approach today helps ensure peace and cooperation tomorrow in our ever more diverse society.”
Joan Brown Campbell

“The concise, descriptive text and beautiful illustrations provide an informative and entertaining resource to help children—and adults—understand the diversity as well as the similarity of the world’s religions.”
Jimmy Carter


It’s a inspiring, eye-opening ‘family gift’ for the holidays!

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Have you already started your holiday shopping this year? A World of Faith is the perfect gift for individuals young and old—especially for families who welcome learning more about the inspiring, colorful diversity of our world’s many faith traditions. The moment I opened my copy of this gorgeous hardcover book, I was in awe of Kathleen Peterson’s full-page interpretations of the religious communities I have covered as a journalist all my life.

I should not have been surprised by the high quality of this book, because it was written and developed by Pulitzer-prize-winning religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack, who also currently is the Executive Director of the International Association of Religion Journalists. I’m honored to call her a friend and to work closely with her on the IARJ’s efforts to increase awareness of religious diversity around the world.

So, our interview about her book started on what might seem to be an odd note: the illustrations.

“What I fell in love with right away were the illustrations,” I told Peggy. “Your accompanying text about each religious group is masterful, but what makes this book so fascinating—so compelling that you just have to sit down and explore each page—are those illustrations.”

“I’m glad you’re going to emphasize the wonderful illustrations,” Peggy said. “This idea for this book began with a suggestion by a friend at The Salt Lake Tribune, cartoonist Pat Bagley, who suggested that I work on a children’s book about world religions with each page opening to show an illustration and some text going from A to Z as readers turned the pages. At the time he made this suggestion, Kathleen Peterson was looking for a project. This all came together in A World of Faith.”

“How should we describe Kathleen’s illustrations in words?” I asked Peggy. “I’m going to include the book’s cover with this column, so they can see one illustration—but, how do you describe the style that readers will find throughout the book?”

“First, they are paintings,” she said. “They look like batiks. In the center of each illustration are some people doing something that’s a part of that particular faith—maybe they’re getting married or we see the Eucharist or something else is going on in their faith community. In the background of each illustration is some kind of structure—like a church, a synagogue or a tent—and around the border are symbols of that faith. Kathleen spent as much time researching the illustrations as I did working on the text for each page.”

Make Sure You’re Ordering the Second Edition

The link with this column (above) will take you to the Amazon page for the expanded “Second Edition,” which was released in the final days of 2022, so it still is relatively new book as we near the 2023 year-end holidays.

Copies of the original, shorter version of this book, first published in the late 1990s, still are floating around the world, including on Amazon where some resellers are offering used copies of that first edition. Instead, we’re urging readers to get the new Second Edition.

“The first edition was more focused on Christianity,” Peggy explained.

That’s because the idea was shaped by a question from Peggy’s young son. As a family, they had just attended a colorful, annual Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartan service in Salt Lake City. “And, my son asked me about the differences between the different Christian denominations. He wanted to know: What makes Baptists and Catholics and Presbyterians—and all the other denominations—different from each other?”

So, that first edition was partly an answer to her son’s question.

“But then I became very involved with the International Association of Religion Journalists and I realized that I needed to expand the faith traditions in a Second Edition,” Peggy explained. “Because the IARJ has members—journalists who cover religion all around the world—I was able to ask our colleagues to help check the summaries I was writing to go along with Kathleen’s illustrations.”

What’s in the book?

In addition to Kathleen’s illustrations, you will find two paragraphs on each facing page, researched and written by Peggy, then vetted for accuracy by a wide array of scholars and journalists who are knowledgeable about these faiths.

I asked Peggy to describe the style of these texts.

“The opening paragraph is about the origins and founding of that faith group and the second paragraph is about common practices: baptism, bar mitzvah, wedding practices, anything that would make that faith seem more common to readers and also more distinct,” Peggy said.

“And the reading level?”

“We estimate the text is about 5th or 6th grade, but here’s the irony: I’ve heard from a lot of adults who love this book. A lot of people want to know just this much about religion—an illustration and a couple of paragraphs. There are hundreds of big books that go into great depth about religion available on Amazon. But, if you are interested more in a taste of the diversity of world religions, then this book is what you want.”

I agree entirely. The book covers a huge array of religious groups, including: Anglican, Baha’i, Catholic, Daoist, Eastern Orthodox, Mormon—and all the way through to Zoroastrian. This won’t make you an expert on world religions, but it will orient you to the many branches of faith that are a living part of our global culture today.

A Universal Call to Compassion

As a life-long professional journalist, like Peggy, I have specialized in covering religious and cultural diversity—so I was not surprised by the array of sacred practices and spiritual wisdom I found in these pages. I was impressed that she has included African and Native American traditions. I also can confirm that Peggy’s and Kathleen’s work is accurate in distilling the information down into an astonishingly small space.

One of the truths most readers will discover in these pages is that not all faith traditions identify what Americans think of as “God”—the Abrahamic idea of a single God—as the core of their beliefs. All of these traditions do, indeed, believe that there is a powerful spiritual realm in life—a transcendent core to our experience in the cosmos or, we might say, a universal calling to respect each other as human beings.

But that’s my way of summarizing the book’s central themes—so I asked Peggy for her summary, as well.

Peggy said, “I can tell you that writing this book was deeply inspiring to me. As I worked on it, and now that it’s out in the world, people always ask me: ‘What do they all have in common?’ And that’s not easy to answer because these faiths are not all monotheistic. Some traditions have multiple gods; some traditions do not even say there is a ‘God’ or that there are ‘gods.’

“What they do share is a belief in something outside of human existence. We might agree to use the word ‘divine’ to describe that ‘something outside of us.’ These traditions all have rituals and practices that they believe can somehow connect the human and the divine. And, when we do connect, what does this divine want of us? These traditions share a belief that this other sphere of existence, what we might call the divine, wants humanity to embody compassion and to follow ethical behavior toward each other on our planet.

“I found myself very moved by all the different faiths and the different ways that what many of us call God is expressed in our world. This book gives me hope—and my hope now is that children and parents and grandparents and teachers will be moved toward hope as they explore these pages.”

 

 

 

In ‘We Survived the End of the World,’ Native American author Steven Charleston urges readers to become prophets of hope

Steven Charleston (Photo provided by the author for this story.)


Like Native American prophets voicing hope in the midst of trauma, Charleston asks us—

‘I hope you will see this as a personal invitation to join me and millions of others.’


By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit Magazine

Are you afraid our world is ending?

Polls show that millions of Americans are fearful of the growing effects of climate change, of the rising tide of violence in many forms, of the impact of “wars and rumors of wars” and of the threats to democracies in many parts of our world. A vast number of us living on the planet share a growing sense that an irreversible “apocalypse” is on the horizon that is likely to change the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

That also means millions of us are wondering: Where is hope?

The venerable Native American theologian, teacher and author Steven Charleston reminds us that there are neighbors living among us across North America who—as resilient communities of people—already have survived an apocalypse. His new book is aptly titled, We Survived the End of the World—Lessons from Native America on Apocalypse and Hope.

Just to be clear about this book’s focus: Charleston is referring to the relentless North American genocidal campaign waged by European immigrants against this continent’s original communities. That genocide has ranged from outright murder to the theft of homelands to the long-term policies in the U.S. and Canada of kidnapping Native children and sending them to brutal (and sometimes deadly) boarding schools that attempted to wipe away all memories of their families and their cultures.

In the opening pages of what may be the most important book he has ever written, Charleston writes, “Native American culture in North America has been through the collapse of civilization and lived to tell the tale. My goal is to investigate how my ancestors were able to do that—and what their experience can teach all of us who are living in uncertain times.”

Then, to be clear on a second point: Charleston is saying that our earth already is in the midst of cataclysmic change.

In 2021, our publishing house launched the book God Is Just Love, subtitled Building Spiritual Resilience and Sustainable Communities for the Sake of Our Children and Creation. In that book, author Ken Whitt, a nationally known Christian pastor and educator, wrote about the kinds of knowledge families should be sharing right now about grassroots health, well-being, spiritual practices and resilience because—in Ken’s view—the whole world already is moving through a catastrophic tipping point. In fact, in his book, Ken, who is not Native American, urges his readers to learn from our Native American neighbors about survival in this time of turbulence.

Now, in this new book, Steven Charleston—the former Episcopal Bishop of Alaska, an elder in the Choctaw Nation and a widely quoted Native voice in American media—is saying the same thing.

“Apocalypse is what we are living through,” he writes in his opening pages. “It is the coming true of our worst fears.” We already have crossed enough environmental trigger points that devastating storms and other ecological disasters will continue to unfold—unsettling millions upon millions of new refugees with each passing decade.

The great value that Charleston provides in his new book is what Ken Whitt—and many other wise writers and scholars—have been urging us to consider over the past decade: Charleston has filled this book with Native American wisdom on how a people and a culture can hope to survive the end of one’s world.

This new book shares the visionary wisdom of four real-life Native American prophets—all of whom have living legacies within Native communities—plus wisdom from the entire sweep of Hopi culture—plus, a final call to action from Charleston’s own wisdom as a prophetic elder. In less than 200 pages, Charleston has given us a crash course on this broad-base of indigenous wisdom—from a total of seven Native sources—that will be fresh news to the vast majority of American readers.

‘Cracking open the ability of people to cross boundaries’

The first step toward finding hope and building resilient communities is a clear vision expressed in an honest message.

In our interview, I summarized for Charleston how I was going to open this column. I asked him if I was accurately conveying what he hoped to achieve in this book.

“Yes,” he said, “I am saying that we’re already deep into the midst of change and, now, each of us could play a prophetic role.”

I replied, “So, by using that word ‘prophet’ to describe these great Native American sages in your book—you’re not using that word to describe someone who can predict the future. I find that a lot of Americans confuse the word ‘prophet’ with some kind of ‘futurist’ or ‘psychic’ or ‘seer.’ Your ‘prophets’ are people who are speaking important truths about the catastrophic eras in which they find themselves, right?”

“Yes,” he said again. “When I invite people to become prophets, I am literally asking them to accept the reality we can see in our world today—and then tell others honestly what we see. I’m trying to crack open the ability of people to cross boundaries and to talk to one another and share what they are seeing in the real world around us. That is the prophetic experience that those of us living in an apocalyptic time are trying to develop.”

I countered: “But our readers might ask, ‘How can you expect me—an ordinary, flawed, stressed-out person—to be as prophetic as you are with all of your academic degrees and experiences as a leader? How can we aspire to be prophets?’ Our readers might complain, ‘We’re way too flawed as individuals!'”

Then, Charleston summarized a central theme of his book in a few sentences: “We have to understand that the kinds of prophets I’m talking about don’t start out as anyone special. A person who becomes a prophet is often reluctant to be chosen for this role. Initially, they may not want to carry this burden. The prophets I’m writing about were everyday persons who transformed from the clay of their everyday lives into rather extraordinary people we remember today.”

Christians and Jews who have studied their scriptures are familiar with this foundational truth about the ancient “prophets” we share: Many were reluctant, most had obvious flaws and some were widely disregarded by their neighbors for most of their lives.

When I made that point in our interview, Charleston responded: “You’re not going far enough in your description. Some prophets actually were reviled because of their past behavior. The story of a prophet is a person who—despite those flaws, despite those mistakes and despite whatever their neighbors think about them—begins to speak truthfully about what they are seeing in the world around them. As they begin to speak, they find that their vision is something that they simply cannot contain. Their message must come out.”

Charleston continued, “That’s the key thing to understand about prophets: It’s something that any one of us can become. That’s why my invitation at the end of the book makes sense. With the right time, the right circumstance and the right depth of faith, any one of us can stand up and proclaim what we believe to be the reality of our situation—and we may find that others will share that vision.”

‘People who were broken or confused find themselves transformed’

In this column, we won’t cover all of the seven prophetic figures profiled in Charleston’s book—four individuals and then the Hopi nation as a whole, plus some of Charleston’s own prophetic reflections.

But here’s a good example of a major Native American prophet with a living legacy today: the Seneca spiritual leader whose name is rendered in many ways today.

He’s called Ganiodaiio in Charleston’s English rendering of his original name—or sometimes his name is spelled as Sganyodaio, Ganioda’yo, Skanatalihyo, Conudiu or, as Wikipedia has literally translated his name: Handsome Lake. In at least one other new book about Native American religious groups, his chapter is titled by none of those names but by the word “Longhouse,” because his teachings mainly are preserved by followers of the larger Iroquois Confederacy, also known as “People of the Long House.”

“How do you pronounce this prophet when you talk about him to audiences?” I asked Charleston.

“I’m not a Seneca speaker, but I pronounce his name gah-nee-oh-DAY-oh,” he said. “His legacy is long and I think it is very important for readers—especially readers who are non-Native—to understand that we are talking about a living religion that still is being practiced. His story is not known today to most Americans, nor is his story very well known to all Native people across this continent—but I can say that, across Native America, at least his name is recognized and respected.

“This is such a key point I am making in the book: Our Native culture is not some dusty matter for historians and anthropologists to study. The Native religious world view is an ongoing, contemporary, modern expression of human spirituality—a religious tradition like Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism. We are not a matter of history. I wrote this book to bring awareness that Native people—and our Native religious wisdom—is very contemporary and very future-focused as part of our global dialogue on spirituality.”

He continued, “I am at pains, whenever I write or speak, to tell people that these ancient parts of our indigenous cultures not only have survived, but are continuing to flourish especially as we cross into these difficult times.”

I asked Charleston to give us a very brief summary of this prophet’s life.

“Well, the first thing to understand is that he was a broken man—a person who had just about reached rock bottom in his life largely due to alcoholism. He was restored to health and strength by some mysterious spiritual encounter that released through him a powerful spiritual message that transformed his people. That is the prophetic role we are talking about here throughout all world culture and all of the living faith traditions—people who have been broken or confused or were trying to run away can find themselves transformed by a spiritual force to provide a message that breaks through to the world. This is part and parcel of the apocalyptic experience.”

Avoid ‘the Baloney’ and pick up the ‘seeds’ Charleston is offering

One thing Steven Charleston is not recommending is that non-Native readers try to convert to indigenous cultures. “There are lots of books and programs and retreats by people who claim to have taken the wisdom from Native people and recast it as their own mix of Native American branded herbs or drumming or visions—or whatever else they are selling. And, to all that stuff you can buy from people who aren’t Native American—I say: ‘Avoid all the Baloney!’ Native people don’t want non-Native people to come and appropriate our rituals as their own.

“In this book, I am sharing a deeper wisdom. I wrote this book so that readers—especially non-Native readers—can see that anyone—and I mean anyone from the vastly different cultures around our world—can learn the truth about our tradition. Even though we went through the end of the world, we survived because of the wisdom of our prophets and the strength of our spiritual vision.

“You don’t need to take our rituals. You can find this wisdom, and your own visions, from your own culture. Instead of trying to sell Baloney—I’m trying to inspire prophetic leadership from every community around the world. In this book, I am offering seeds that can give people the confidence they need to avoid hiding in spiritual bunkers as the apocalypse unfolds. I want people to know that there have been crises like this since the time of the Ice Age. Humans have had to deal with apocalyptic crises since the origins of humanity.

“We’re living in an age right now when people are deeply fearful. I want to show people one option they could choose based on Native experience to find new strength. If we do, we can make a real difference. We can prevent this feeling of helplessness and feel, instead, both hope and empowerment.”

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Care to Learn More?

Read our earlier interview with Charleston, headlined: Native American elder Steven Charleston’s ‘Spirit Wheel’ weaves spirituality from ‘common threads of hope and mercy’

Read Steven Charleston’s books! There are so many places to start. This week, we are recommending his newest book: We Survived the End of the World—Lessons from Native America on Apocalypse and Hope.

If you want to dig deeper into Native American reflections on connections between Christian and Native traditions, you’ll also want to read Coming Full Circle—Constructing Native Christian Theology.

Want to learn more about the many other Native American issues our magazine has been covering?

Check out these stories:

Water Walkers series: Carol Trembath debuts her latest Native American book ‘Pass the Feather’

Bill Tammeus on: ‘Land Acknowledgment’ is a first step toward justice for our Native American neighbors

Exposing the horrors of the Indian Boarding Schools: Why we need to read Warren Petoskey’s ‘Dancing My Dream’ now

And: In Native Echoes, Kent Nerburn returns from Indian country with A Liturgy of the Land

 

Hersch Wilson’s ‘Dog Lessons’ is a warm-hearted human biography measured in 18 dogs

From left: Hersch, Toby and Maisie. (Photo provided by Hersch Wilson for this article.)

Love dogs? You’ll love this book!

By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

I read this entire book aloud to my wife, cover to cover, during a road trip in which she drove, I read—and together we smiled, sometimes laughed and even cried a few times. Why the tears? Because dogs’ lives are so short in comparison with ours, most dog books involve the passing of a beloved companion—and this one does, as well.

Reading an entire book aloud is exceedingly rare for us.

And, that’s why I’m certain that—if you’re a dog lover like we are—you will want to get a copy of this book. You’ll fall in love so quickly that, like us, you’ll feel compelled to share passages with a friend or loved one. Here’s a quick test: If you’ve ever enjoyed James Herriot’s autobiographical books or either of the two TV series made from his writings—you’ll definitely enjoy Hersch Wilson’s new Dog Lessons: Learning the Important Stuff from Our Best Friends.

In an interview with Hersch about this new memoir, I told him about another writer I worked with a decade ago. John Gillis was a larger-than-life Midwest radio personality whose home base was Indianapolis, Indiana. John wanted to write a memoir and, as we talked about how to structure such a book, I was struck by how deeply he and his dogs had shaped each other’s lives. Like Hersch, John discovered the wonders of dogs while growing up in the rural Midwest, which meant that John always was accompanied by fairly large dogs, also like Hersch. And, like Hersch’s four-pawed friends, John’s dogs were far more than “pets”—they defined each season of John’s colorful life.

Finally, as we talked about his dogs, I told John: “How about writing a five-part memoir called My Life in 5 Dogs?”

He loved the idea! Unfortunately, 11 years ago, before he had written much, John died.

One reason my wife and I responded so whole-heartedly to Hersch’s memoir is that Hersch essentially has written what I would call My Life in 18 Dogs.

When I told John’s story to Hersch, he nodded across the Zoom screen.

He said, “I like that. But for me, it’s My Life in 18 Dogs. That really is the idea of this book: I tell how each one of those 18 relationships has taught me something important about love and loyalty—and so many other things.”

I told Hersch that I read his entire book aloud, because we fell in love with the first section of the book about his childhood. “After the first 20 pages, we were hooked on reading the whole thing like this—me reading and both of us enjoying the stories,” I told him. “I think you organized this book perfectly by starting with those childhood experiences.”

“I think you’re right about the book’s structure,” he said. “It’s because those early stories in the book are filled with an almost miraculous relationship between a boy and a dog. That’s how I learned to trust a dog and let a dog take me into the wilderness and really see and experience the wilderness. From that start, I wanted to have a dog with me for the rest of my life.”

My wife and I feel the same way.

If you do, then this book could be the next big smile (with a few tears here and there) that you’ll want to enjoy this autumn.

Who Is Hersch Wilson?

(Photo provided by Hersch Wilson for this article.)

When New World Library mailed me a review copy of Hersch’s book, the other thing that intrigued me—beyond the subject of dogs—was the quirky “bio” of the author: “Hersch Wilson is an organizational consultant, pilot, former professional dancer, newspaper columnist, and volunteer firefighter. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife, Laurie; two daughters; and two dogs, a Great Pyrenees and a Chihuahua-terrier mix.”

When I Googled Hersch to learn more about him, one of the first photos that popped up showed him standing proudly next to the instrument panel of a fire truck. That’s an image he used to promote his 2020 memoir, Firefighter Zen: A Field Guide to Living in Tough Times.

For all of the surprising professional twists and turns Hersch has followed over the years, his instinct as a master storyteller is to compartmentalize and focus each of his book-length narratives. For example, I own a copy of Firefighter Zen and can recommend that book as well—but there’s very little about Hersch’s life with dogs in that book. There’s one exception in Firefighter Zen, a horrifying true story mid-way through that memoir about a house fire to which Hersch’s volunteer firefighter crew responded in which dogs perished. As you can imagine, that’s one of the most haunting memories from Hersch’s career in firefighting.

And, then, this new book is laser focused as well. It includes almost nothing about firefighting.

In weighing which stories to include, this time, he chose only those involving dogs. Another example of this focus: Readers of this new book learn almost nothing about Hersch’s main “family business.” As he was growing up, Hersch’s father was a salesman and became a nationally known pioneer in corporate training programs. Following his father’s example, Hersch has “paid the bills” for years through his own work in developing training programs and other forms of corporate consulting.

“For years, we had a company that developed courses, training and leadership consulting,” Hersch said in our interview. “We were pioneers in building ropes courses back in the ’80s, when that became very popular in corporate training. And, then, I worked in consulting all over the world until the big crash in 2008, when everything seemed to slow down. Fortunately, my wife Laurie started a retail store in Santa Fe that’s done great business in recent years. So, we’ve paid the bills over the years in a variety of ways.”

If you’re passing through Santa Fe, you may want to check out Laurie’s award-winning Teca Tu Pawsworthy Pet Emporium. (Visit the shop’s website and you’ll find a few more photos of the Wilsons’ dogs as well.)

Oh—and are you still wondering about the “professional dancer” part of Hersch’s life? Well, first of all, that’s not a fanciful exaggeration. Hersch was a professional dancer in the U.S. and Europe during his 20s. It’s barely mentioned in this new book—but, someday, I’ll certainly be among the first to buy a copy of Hersch’s memoir about a dancer’s life.

If you’re wanting to read some of Hersch’s writing immediately, you also can check out The Santa Fe New Mexican website, where he occasionally appears as a columnist.

The Tricky Business of Describing Dogs

As I mentioned in the opening of this column, my wife and I are fascinated by animals, especially dogs, and we read a lot about animal-human relationships. If you have read this far in this column, you probably are aware that, today, there is a debate among humans about what words best describe our relationships with the animals we welcome into our homes.

“I like the phrase ‘dog guardian.’ I don’t mind the word ‘pet;’ that doesn’t bother me. But I like to use the word guardian because it explains clearly that we are the guardians of our dogs,” Hersch told me.  “I don’t use the phrase ‘dog owner,’ because the word ‘owner’ implies that you can do anything you want with what you own. If I own a car, but don’t like it anymore, I can get rid of it. No problem. I own the car. But dogs aren’t cars. They feel pain and joy and think. They’re sentient beings and it becomes our responsibility to protect them and give them as happy a life as we can possibly give them. Their lives are short. We have a big responsibility to them. That’s wholly different than owning something.”

I told Hersch that I would include a link to his Santa Fe newspaper columns.

“Well, if people do read those columns, you’ll see that I talk a lot about what it means to be a guardian. It means two important things: You’ve stopped taking dogs for granted and you’re trying to understand and communicate with your dog. Dogs can use language in ways that we’ve never imagined before. I’m not a scientist, but it’s clear that we are in a renaissance of studies about dog cognition and ways that we can understand dogs. My job as a columnist is to simplify and explain that research so others can understand what we can learn.”

“And that’s really the central theme of this book as well: Appreciating what we can learn from our dogs,” I said.

“Yes, that’s right,” he said. “Even though we are seeing a lot of new research today, the power of the dog-human relationship goes back thousands of years. I’m in a part of the country where we are reminded of the indigenous wisdom from which we also can learn. I talk in the book about how I live just five miles from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, a historical site where skeletons of humans have been found with their dogs. These relationships were part of indigenous life and I find that indigenous culture can teach us a lot about the larger relationship we have with our natural world—whether we appreciate it or not.”

“You’re also emphasizing that building a relationship with a dog takes a lot of care and time and energy and patience, right?” I asked.

“That’s right,” he said. “And I hope people will consider thinking about whether they can adopt a dog—and, if they feel they can—then start by considering shelter or rescue dogs. These dogs, depending on what their experiences have been, may take even more time and patience and commitment—but I can tell you: Building a lifetime relationship with a dog can be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have in your life.”

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