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At a glance, here’s what you need to navigate the world of faith this week …
(spellings and dates of observance vary). The holiday recalls the
Prophet Muhammad making a miraculous “night journey” from Mecca to
Jerusalem, up into the heavens, then back again to Mecca.
— who perhaps lived a couple of centuries too early. Just imagine how
her spiritually tormented love story might have played out, fully
flowered in the 21st Century.
on August 1. In this first-fruits festival, families once brought a
loaf of bread made from their new crop of wheat to their local church.
at the same time. A bonfire and dancing may be in store, depending on
each group’s customs concerning this Gaelic first-fruits holiday. In
ancient times, the idea spread widely. For example, even many Swiss
spiraling into the range of what once was science fiction, this is
becoming one of the huge moral-spiritual questions of the summer — an
example of a gut-level, pocketbook issue sparking reflections that even
silver-tongued preaching couldn’t have inspired, right?
the leaders, teachers, media folks, writers among our Planner
readership — grab this golden opportunity to talk with people about
the central question: What’s the value of each personal connection you
make with your community? The New York Times just did this on Sunday,
so we’re not alone in raising the question.
And, today at ReadTheSpirit, you heard it here first:
We’re adding our own twist to the conversation — introducing you to
the phrase “Worship Miles.” Talk about prophetic? Talk about an issue
that’s virtually a form of spiritual fire to contemplate?
signed into law California’s ban on Trans Fats on Friday, there should
have been a little nervous shudder felt by people working in print
media. This was another illustration of how quickly Americans’ sense of
cultural morality turns on a dime. Convinced that Trans Fats are so bad
for us that we should be protected from them, our trend-setting West
Coast state quickly banned them. Most of us are saying: bravo.
fast that issue flipped — from barely thinking about the crispy treats
we were consuming to getting mad enough about Trans Fats that: Bam!
Banned in California.
to do with print media? Well, we’ve written fequently here about the
earthquake rumbling through print journalism. One of the rising
cultural spectres here is the feeling among younger Americans that
print media isn’t merely irrelevant — it’s a morally bad use of
precious natural resources (trees, gasoline, landfills, etc.) to
deliver what we can get faster online and via hand-held devices.
small circle of college students a few days ago and we got to talking
about this issue. I said, “You know, we’re hearing that some younger
people think print media actually is morally wrong — because of its
use of newsprint, gasoline to haul papers around and so on –” I was
saying this with a sort of ironic smile, shaking my head.
forests to print something that we get better and faster right here?” a
young woman said, waving her cell phone at me.
York Times story just a couple of days ago about the fees authors are
commanding these days for personal appearances? Basically, writer
Rachel Donadio tossed a big bonus to struggling writers and
communicators everywhere — and we know there are many of you among our
In part, Rachel reported that, these days, “a mid-list novelist might
ask, though not necessarily get, $2,500 per appearance, a superstar
presidential historian might command $40,000. And some best-selling
authors charge double that.”
about author envy. It’s a report by Rachel on what event planners are
willing to pay these days when brokering public appearances by writers.
Clip the story. Save it. Get a copy of it ready on your computer to
Email to people with whom you’re discussing your recruitment for their
story is so valuable: The realm of professional fees for appearances is
a mysterious swamp with few markers for the uninitiated. Even veterans
of public appearances admit that setting appearance fees is a shadowy
to clergy out there? Chronically underpaid clergy? Highly educated,
talented, undervalued clergy? Perhaps print out a copy of the article
and tack it up on a bulletin board. Even if your pay doesn’t rise to
match your true professional value, at least people may appreciate your
work a little more.
touched a nerve last week with our Planner item on the discovery (after
nearly 80 years) of a new, longer version of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.”
I celebrated this discovery. Lang’s work fascinates me and holds enough
cultural keys to help us explore many spiritual threads that run
through the 20th Century to today.
next question that brought a flurry of Emails and messages. I asked
whether everything in our cinematic archives — even the hateful and
the racist films — should be revived and released on DVD.
“I was just asking whether we really want all the old racist and truly
ugly stuff in older movies to resurface.”
to admit that we don’t have any control over this, anyway. We’re
rapidly approaching the point where nearly all major media ever
produced will be available 24-7 at our fingertips. Just ask a college
student how to catch an old episode of John Stewart — or find a scene
from some obscure Fred Astaire musical — and you’ll be on YouTube or
some other Web site watching the clip before you can refill your cup
Fitzgerald put it this way, “Just get off it! Smells like earlier
guardians who worried about whether we ought to see this or that. … I
don’t need to be worried over.”
celebrated with us the news about “Metropolis,” which is among his own
personal favorites — but warned that we shouldn’t even toy with the
fire of censorship. The challenge now is to preserve the past before
early cinema crumbles, Jim wrote. “Do we close down an archeological
site as soon as we find evidence that they hated their enemies and
wished them bodily harm?”
for recommending our Interfaith Heroes
landing page — where all the action and inspirational reading will
center in January.
Interfaith Partners, an internationally known group that helped us to
pioneer Interfaith Heroes Month and prepares our annual inspirational
books on “Interfaith Heroes.”
also collecting comments, anecdotes, reflections about your experience
during the Reformation and Renewal of the “Temple of Starbucks.”
of the earliest chroniclers of the spiritual lessons in Starbucks
culture. I wrote the section on Starbucks for the 2004 Baylor Press
book, “Quoting God,” two years before the 2006, “Starbucks Experience,”
and three years before Leonard Sweet’s 2007 “Gospel of Starbucks.”
books are now nearly a genre — and I welcome all the voices coming to
the discussion. I especially recommend Leonard’s book.
that Starbucks is in trouble, going through its own form of Reformation
and Renewal — now, I think, is the truly fascinating moment to look at
the complex relationships of culture, business and community that meet
around the high altar of espresso.
pioneer a creative approach to developing children’s books about Bible
stories. You’ll find that reviewers (myself included) don’t reveal
details of the specific Bible stories Liu is reviving. Part of the
amazement in his books involves discovering which ancient stories
by trying to envision what spiritual forces may have been at work in
the natural world at the time of these epic events in the Bible. He’s
not pushing doctrine here. He’s trying to enlarge our creative
perspectives on biblical accounts that are so familiar that we’ve lost
our sense of awe.
Baker is kicking off this week with a challenge on: Happiness. Just how
happy are you? And how does your happiness related to your values?
be asking about teenage pregnancy — and other issues important to his
research team as they try to structure various pieces of their
long-term research on American values.
add a comment, take Dr. Baker’s new Quick Poll and, if you haven’t done
so already, sign up for his longer-term online survey.
returns, concerning Animals and the Bible — an opportunity to tell you
more about the work of Davy Liu, who is trying to envision how animals
relate to our religious tradition.
- 219: Readers talk about sprouting media, green spirit and a Dark Knight
- 218: What Does Spiritual Heroism Mean in the Daily Friction of Chinese Culture?
- 217: Conversation With Michael Novak on need for new dialogue with atheists
- 216: Quizzes with a twist on heroism: What kind of heroes are they? And you?
- 215: Meet a Young Hero with a Bicycle and a Pilgrimage He Wants to Share
- 214: Readers Tell Us About Batman, Wall.E, Narnia and an Endangered Faith
- 213: Guest Writer Frederick Buechner showcases a gem from “Yellow Leaves”
- 212: Conversation With Dale Brown on Buechner and writing from the spirit
- 211: Tuesday Quiz: Happy Birthday, Mary and Ginger — Let’s Think Positively, Now
- 210: Students Take a Pilgrimage Through the Lens of a Camera