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!
ReadTheSpirit Planner for the week of June 16:
on Friday. For most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the longest
day of the year, when we turn the cosmic corner and nights grow longer
again. Global traditions include Midsummer.
stories this week at ReadTheSpirit focus on the legacy of slavery, we
also want to point out a lesser-known holiday: Many African Americans
will mark Juneteenth on Thursday. It’s a commemoration that started in 1865 with the end of slavery in Texas.
question raised early last week, after more dire rumors about the
collapse of American newspapers — and then Tim Russert
died. If you’re not familiar with his role as a pillar of American news
media, then click on his name and you’ll jump to his Wikipedia
biography. (Please note on that page how fast Wikipedia moves! Already,
his biography includes a chapter covering his death and some of the
tributes paid to him.)
set up to honor Tim, which by Sunday evening as I’m finalizing this
Planner had more than 17,000 notes from appreciative men and women!
(This is a sad time, but it’s also a sign of the power of online
communities to emerge around spiritual themes.)
our Question of the Week? Well, consider this: We’re in the heat of an
American presidential race with crises simmering all around the world
— and traditional American news media has fallen from its once
powerful role in helping us to understand these urgent issues.
today’s story and you’ll understand why we view this question as
spiritual — and where we see signs of hope in all of this.
ReadTheSpirit, I make sure I’m personally visiting communities every
week — including regular trips through leading retailers to see what
consumers are buying. If you’ve looked closely yourself, then you’ve
already seen the almost absurd lengths to which marketers are going to
paint our purchases green. Have you seen the new candy bars that
promise a “carbon offset” if we chow down on milk chocolate?
stopped cold at a huge newsstand where a magazine screamed at me with
an entirely neon-lime-green cover. The magazine is “Airliners: The
World’s Airline Magazine,” and the story is “Going Green” — all about
the search for more nature-friendly marketing in jets.
fall of 2008, it feels like we’ve reached the Emerald City in “The
Wizard of Oz” and we’re all putting on green glasses to view the world.
more green just over the hill! For example, over the past week, I’ve
heard news that at least two major publishers are thinking about
releasing new “Green Bibles” in coming months.
Bible” a book that’s published with recycled materials? Or is a “Green
Bible” all about the content — perhaps providing a built-in
study-guide to the Bible’s helpful lessons about nature? Or, perhaps
it’s a bad idea to invite us all to buy yet another Bible?
on new digital formats in religious publishing and, last week, we
reported on the CEV Bible finally landing on Amazon’s Kindle (the new
hand-held, digital book reader that’s one of the hottest new formats in
Spearheaded by the Rev. Dr. Christopher Smith and other Bible scholars,
this new format removes all the verse and chapter numbers, which can be
visually annoying while trying to enjoy the meaning of longer
scriptural passages. Smith and IBS now have segments of this
verse-free, TNIV Bible available for Kindle. Plus, they’re only 99
check it out. Because the Kindle (and other emerging digital formats)
make old page-and-chapter numbering systems obsolete, it may be that
Chris Smith and his team turn out to be visionaries in pushing for this
new number-free format.
clear from many readers that you appreciate our recommendations of
unusual and independent films — as well as important TV programs that
you might otherwise miss.
the Washington area, check out the impressive array of documentary
films showing throughout this week-long festival. Many contain
Washington, look over the festival Web site — and think about
organizing at least a fledgling film festival in your own town.
flurry of news in recent days was an important announcement by the
Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North
was: “A coalition of Islamic and research groups (are launching) a
nationwide census project, the first comprehensive survey of its kind,
intended to collect accurate data about America’s mosques.”
readership of this weekly Planner includes many journalists, religious
leaders and activists. With that in mind, we urge our readers to
encourage a detailed and accurate completion in this ambitious project.
reasons that such a study, if properly conducted, will benefit all of
us — Muslim and non-Muslim. Here’s one example: For many years, one of
the biggest points of conflict in news coverage of Islam in America is
the widely divergent claims about the number of Muslims living in the
U.S. Because there has been no detailed census of American Muslims
conducted by scholars, some Muslim leaders have reported huge
population estimates while some scholars and journalists have reported
far smaller numbers.
recommendations, we’re on the lookout for provocative, timely spiritual
reading — usually discovered in unexpected places. This proves our
central thesis that the most interesting spiritual movements in the
world today aren’t taking place in houses of worship and often don’t
even involve our typical religious leaders.
religious readers may find themselves puzzled or outright offended by
the July issue of Esquire. There’s a very long story about men who love
cars — and a way-too-long story about popular “swearwords,” which is
peppered with profanity.
makes the Esquire issue with Mike Myers on the cover a ReadTheSpirit
“Hot Read”: Tom Junod’s challenging story about American solders sent
to Iraq as snipers, later accused of “murder” — (that’s the 6-letter
mesmerizing look at the complex morality of modern warfare. When I read
this piece, I found my own assumptions pulled in several directions.
You might even think about discussing this story in a small group.
published a clever, interactive version of photographer Chris Jordan’s
famous images that are designed to turn abstract global statistics into
unforgettable visual messages.
on one family’s confrontation with the legacy of American slavery.
We’ve got many preachers, teachers, students and active members of
congregations among our readers — and I can guarantee you that there’s
strong spiritual material in this 90-minute film. We’re telling you
about the film early to give you plenty of opportunity to plan for a
small-group discussion, based on “Traces of the Trade” on PBS.
go one step further in helping you explore the legacy of slavery. Our
weekly Quiz asks about modern slavery around the world — and what we
can do about it, today. This Quiz is a great tool to start your group
discussion about the PBS film.
we continue raising the question, “How can we see the world more
clearly?” But we jump half way around the world from the U.S. for a
Conversation With one of the world’s leading scholars on emerging
religious movements in China. This is a rare opportunity to hear from
an expert about this critically important issue.
we’ve got some surprises in store as we continue exploring our theme.
You’ll hear from a guest writer who grew up viewing the challenge of
diversity from an unusual perspective. She will share her story with
us. And we’ll also tell you about a surprising group of volunteers
building new kinds of urban temples dedicated to breaking down cultural
- 189: Readers Tell Us About Spiritual Tools, Stereotypes, Zohan, Eulogies
- 188: Glimpsing This “Ancient” Revival with Writer and Architect Phyllis Tickle
- 187: Conversation With Brian McLaren on His Call to Reclaim Ancient Practices
- 186: QUIZ: Whatever Our Faith May Be, We’re All on a Pilgrimage Aren’t We?
- 185: Must Our Diversity Lead to Conflict? Avoiding Ugly Images from the Past
- 184: Readers Tell Us About Cool Comics, Guardian Angels, Good Reads & Heroes
- 183: From One Life to Another, Spiritual Connections Light Up Our Journey
- 182: Conversation With Stephen Simon, Pioneer of the Spiritual Cinema Circle
- 181: QUIZ: Headline Says “Sex Sells,” but Bible Students Know All About That!
- 180: Finding Our Way Forward (and Backward) in a Rapidly Changing Culture