Check Out Our ReadTheSpirit Planner …

The following is a “sample” of our Monday-morning “ReadTheSpirit
Planner” — a free e-mail service that starts your week with a lively
slice of news about spirituality and media …

    IF YOU’D LIKE TO RECEIVE our Planner each Monday morning (it’s free and you can un-subscribe anytime) — then, send a quick Email to ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm — and we’ll get our next edition to you on the next Monday morning!

eadTheSpirit Planner for the week of April 7:

  At a glance, here’s what you need to navigate the world of faith this week in a timely and helpful way …


What’s the Spiritual Season?


Orthodox Christians continue their fast of Great Lent, heading toward Easter on Sunday April 27.


Around the world, observances with spiritual associations this week include the anniversary of the death of former slave Toussaint Louverture, a heroic figure in Haiti and the Caribbean; memorials recalling the start of the Death March of Bataan
on April 9, 1942, during the heat of World War II in the Pacific; and
in the Republic of Georgia northeast of Turkey, April 9 is a National Day of Unity recalling a Soviet-era attack on independence activists.


Question You May Hear This Week:


“What Do We Expect Our Religions Leaders to Say to Us?”
The buzz is rising about Pope Benedict XVI’s April 15-20 visit to New
York and Washington D.C.
, but the voices in American news media are
confused about the significance of these events. Plus, the furor over
the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s preaching hasn’t faded. It continues to
expand with a major New Yorker article in the April 7 issue and
religious groups taking various public stances. If that weren’t enough
— the controversial documentary film about former President Jimmy
Carter’s recent campaign concerning the Middle East is out on DVD. This
question about our expectations concerning religious leaders is an
important, edgy question — and we’ll be offering five very different
responses to the question throughout this week at


This Week, People Will Be Talking About:


The death of Moses — or That Old Gun Nut
— depending on how Americans recall Charlton Heston, who died at 84.
Fortunately, most of the early tributes on Sunday warmly honored
Heston, but it is unfortunate that in his final years he became a pawn
in the highly charged battle over American gun rights. Young fans of
Michael Moore’s movies may only recall the caricature of a “gun nut”
from Moore’s ambush of Heston. They may not recall that Heston defined
the figure of Moses for millions of Americans in “The Ten Commandments”
and played heroes in other swords-and-sandals epics, including,
“Ben-Hur.” Late in life, Heston also was helping to produce multi-media


Chaos Continues in American Media: Seems
as though, before long, there won’t be anyone left inside these empty
old barns of American journalism to feed the wire services that are
becoming the lifeblood of so many publications that have slashed
budgets, staffs — and maybe their wrists. Newsweek is the latest to
broom more than 100, including the near-legendary film critic David
Ansen, who literally claims to have started reviewing films at age 12
in 1958.  Ansen now will contribute only occasional pieces to the
magazine. He’s OK financially and his byline won’t vanish, but he said
on NPR that the gradual extinction of newspaper movie critics is
“brutal” for indie movie producers hoping for a boost from a friendly


The media chaos
continues in other spheres as well. The Goliath of the online
bookselling world, Amazon, is using its club to pummel publishers
trying to use red-hot new digital publishing systems. Meanwhile,
HarperCollins announces a new publishing division aimed directly at
online publishing, promising to partner with writers in new ways — but
also ending the longstanding practice of cutting advance checks. Got
that? It means thousands of writers hitting the streets from newspapers
and magazines may not be able to cash in as quickly as they thought on
the book manuscripts gathering dust in their newsroom desks.


Poor Protestants Learn They May Be Reading the Gospel of Prosperity — Backwards:
Or something like that. Duke University scholar Lisa A. Keister is
stirring a lot of conversation with a very solid — but, for general
readers, a mighty dense — article in the American Journal of
Sociology, called, “Conservative Protestants And Wealth: How Religion Perpetuates Asset Poverty.”
If you care to wade through it, click on the title. It’s free on the
journal’s site. Some evangelicals may regard this as quite an
encouraging salute to their culture, demonstrating that they may be
poor both because they’re generous givers and because they realize that
everything belongs to God. But this sure puts a crimp in any notion
that there’s a big fat prosperity gospel in the conservative Protestant


Finally, Some Real Multi-media Gems Shine This Week:
Watch our Web site for more on these releases — but fans of Van
Morrison should check out “Keep It Simple” (some tracks sound like
contemporary Psalms), students of American cultural history won’t want
to miss new digital transfers due in stores this week of Harry
Houdini’s century-old films, and a raft of second-string MGM musicals
are due out on DVD this week — but I would argue that, in the midst of
troubling times, it can be a spiritual experience to kick back and
enjoy some of these uplifting song-and-dance numbers.


Hot Reading:


Check out the current issue of “Weavings
magazine, headlined: “Adoration.” Especially look for Bible scholar
David Rensberger’s chapter, “Adoring the Creator.” He explores the
links between faith and the natural world, an extremely popular theme
these days.


This Week Inside ReadTheSpirit

TODAY, we explore this week’s central question head on in a story headlined, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the … Vatican.” American news media’s in chaos — and it’s confusing our understanding of Pope Benedict XVI’s looming visit.


Come back Tuesday for our weekly Quiz — on one of the major figures mentioned in today’s Planner.


We’ve got a Conversation With a global peacemaker on Wednesday, suggesting one way that religious leaders can help reduce the explosive friction between religious groups.


And much more — including news about Narnia later this week.

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