June 30 Sample of ReadTheSpirit Planner

ReadTheSpirit Planner:

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




For our American readers, this week culminates in Independence Day (the Fourth of July),
which means that most offices you contact this week will be rushing to
close up early on Thursday. It’s also a terrific time for our readers
to help us reflect on the Values that shape our lives.

Today, we’ve got BIG NEWS: the launch of a unique online experiment www.OurValues.org

where University of
Michigan researcher Dr. Wayne Baker will be asking people about their
close-to-the-heart values — and, of course, he will be asking about
the meaning of America itself in this holiday week.


Care to learn more about Independence Day? Well, anyone can visit Wikipedia’s overview — but, this week, we’re sharing some other links you might find fascinating:

A history of July 4 Celebrations by Dr. James Heintze at American University.

The Declaration of Independence at the National Archives.

And, a fascinating history of the Declaration itself from the Archives staff.

Plus, here’s an 1852 reflection on July 4
by the great African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Remember
that this talk was delivered by Douglass before the Civil War.

Please, Email us about your summer holiday experiences. We love to hear your spiritual reflections — and, more importantly, our readers love to hear from you!


“How do we sort out the meaning of our values — in this challenging new situation?”

This week we KNOW this question is spreading around the country — because we’re among those asking it!

Today — Monday June 30 — we are launching www.OurValues.org along with Dr. Wayne Baker of the University of Michigan’s prestigious Institute for Social Research.

We want to acknowledge and thank Bill Tammeus, veteran Religion Writer for the Kansas City Star, for posting what we think is the first news story on this launch. Bill had his first version of a blog post up 48 hours ago.

We are aware of
other journalists following this news as well in blogs, columns and
news pages. We welcome your interest in this unfolding story.

Think, as well,
about the potential of July 4 coverage of this unique new “take” on
American values. Dr. Baker is around the University of Michigan this
week and is reachable via telephone by journalists (and, yes, we know
that — although religion writing is an endangered profession these
days — a good number of journalists read this Planner each week).




Today, ReadTheSpirit publishes

its 200th Story: on the OurValues launch.

Yes, we’re patting
ourselves on the back — but we’re doing it this way, today, because
the news about American journalism gets bleaker with each passing month.

Within the past
week, the Detroit Free Press announced 150 more buyouts (after buyouts
in December) — and the cancellation of its weekend women’s magazine,
plus the end of its network of localized regional news sections. The
buzz from staffers is that far more will be cut from this once
venerable newspaper before the slashing ends.

The Free Press, like
other major newspapers, is rushing to pump up online publication — but
the net effect is that newspaper journalists by the thousands are
finding themselves pushed out the doors across the U.S.

Here at
ReadTheSpirit, we’re proof that a small network of professionals
working in innovative and cooperative ways can make a major impact in
some of the subject areas once covered by newspapers.

you’re working in the many subject areas that newspapers are
discontinuing — such as theater criticism, medical writing, covering
children’s issues, outdoor writing, etc. — and you’re huddling with
other professionals about how to rebuild these content areas
independently in the online world — give us a holler at ReadTheSpirit.
We’re extremely busy with our own projects these days, but we’d like to
help — if only to share in brainstorming the next steps in this new
form of media.


And, Here’s an Unusual Offering

in our Planner for Today

Next week, you’ll
find our usual mix of news items, reviews and commentary in the Monday
Planner. But, today, we know that lots of people will want to see the
official University of Michigan “News Service Release” on OurValues.
So, we’re giving it to you right here as UM News Service wrote it:

New U-M project probes Americans’ values

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—As the fall elections draw near, an innovative
new University of Michigan research project is probing the values
behind Americans’ political decisions.

On Monday (June 30), the project Web site, http://www.ourvalues.org
, will provide visitors with a chance to weigh in on a changing array
of hot-button issues from polygamy to patriotism to same-sex marriage.

Public comments and responses to “Quick Poll” questions on the site
will inform the content of a major survey on Americans’ Evolving
Values, to be fielded by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

“I am very enthusiastic about this website,” said Wayne Baker, a
professor at the U-M Ross School of Business and a faculty associate at
ISR. “Not only will it help to define the content of the coming survey,
it represents a new, ‘open source’ approach to research that is based
on ‘the wisdom of crowds’ rather than only the insights of a small
group of academics.”

Baker, a sociologist, is developing the content and leading the
discussions on the new website, which offers site visitors a chance to
comment on the topic of the day, or on other issues on their minds. For
the coming, nationally representative survey on Americans’ Evolving
Values, Baker is collaborating with social psychologist James S.
Jackson, who directs the ISR.

“We live in a time when there is more debate than ever about what being
an American means,” Jackson said. “As we move forward, it is vital to
understand the underlying values and principles that Americans of all
ages and backgrounds share. An important goal of this larger project is
to clarify how basic values are linked with political, economic, and
religious behavior.”

Baker has developed the OurValues Web site in collaboration with David
Crumm, founding editor of ReadtheSpirit.com and former religion writer
with the Detroit Free Press.

“The recent controversies about the spiritual advisors to both
presidential candidates have receded, but religious and moral values
remain an important dimension underlying many contemporary political
issues,” Crumm said. “Dr. Baker’s project is a new way for concerned
Americans to let leaders know what they value, and why.”

Established in 1948, the University of Michigan Institute for Social
Research (ISR) is among the world’s oldest academic survey research
organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of
social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited
studies in the nation, including the Reuters/University of Michigan
Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the
Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the
Health and Retirement Study, and the National Survey of Black
Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in
more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects,
and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in
Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR),
the world’s largest computerized social science data archive. Visit the
ISR web site at www.isr.umich.edu for more information.

Contact: Diane Swanbrow

Phone: (734) 647-4416


News from Chinese neighborhoods

sounds amazingly close to home.

whole mission at ReadTheSpirit is focused on finding the best in
spiritually themed media — and connecting it with the countless men
and women who are eager to find it every day.

THIS WEEK, our good friend Andy Jordan of the Wall Street Journal shared a video report from China that touched our hearts.

Andy is
famous for clever business reports — sometimes even risking his
health. Once, he even arranged to have himself shot with a Tazer just
to film its impact. Ouch!

But you really should click over to the Journal Web site and watch this report
on traditional Chinese neighborhoods. You may have to watch a short
video advertisement before Andy’s report begins — but it’s worth the

reports from China on grassroots efforts in old, run-down urban
neighborhoods to save and repair traditional housing — to preserve the
lives of the neighbors who have carved out communities in these corners
of Beijing. Andy’s story quickly jumps around the globe and connects
with milions of Americans living in older urban neighborhoods. As
amazing as it is to discover this connection — poor people in older
neighborhoods face many of the same problems wherever they are located
on the planet.

This Week Inside ReadTheSpirit

We’re going to be exploring …

Tuesday: Our popular weekly quiz returns. These quizzes are great to use in small groups — and we welcome you to copy them and share them with friends.

Wednesday: You’ll meet the man behind this daring online experiment, OurValues, in our Conversation With Dr. Wayne E. Baker.

Thursday and Friday: We’ll
have more stories — and we’d love to share more of your reflections,
questions, comments and recommendations of great spiritual media. So,
keep the Emails, Facebook notes and other messages speeding our way.


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