The Good News is that there’s an ocean of spiritual resources online! But, are all the waters safe for swimming? IN THIS SPACE, we highlight our Top Spiritual Sites. CAN YOU SEND IN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THIS LIST? Certainly! HERE’S HOW: CLICK HERE to email us.
OUR LIST IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING!
One way to describe Cindy LaFerle’s online columns is to say they’re about “home, family and women’s issues.” But that misses by a mile the heart and soul of her work, which really is a search for “the sacred in the suburban.” Or, “looking for the beauty in the ordinary,” which is close to a Quaker or Zen approach to spirituality. But these aren’t esoteric pieces. Cindy writes like an old friend, and if you enjoy her voice, you can buy her book, “Writing Home.” Cindy debuted as a friend of ReadTheSpirit with a guest column on Anne Morrow Lindburgh.
We’ve been fans of Lynne Meredith Schreiber’s writing for a long time. In Lynne’s own online home, she’s a spiritual memoirist in the tradition of Anne Lamott, Rob Bell and others — but she writes from her own distinctive perspective as a Jewish woman, a Mom and an expert in an array of cultural traditions. She’s known nationally for her freelance work writing about cuisine, among other themes. To put it another way: If you were planning a dinner party with an ideal mix of fascinating conversation — you’d want to have Lynne at the table. For all these reasons, she calls her online home “Nourish Cafe.” So, go. Visit. Meet her — and enjoy!
How vast is the Web? In 20-plus years of covering religion and culture, I never bumped into Fred and Mary Ann Brussat’s superb operation, based in New York City and at http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/
Fred finally bumped into ReadTheSpirit, searching online for in-depth author interviews. Fred started exploring ReadTheSpirit and sent me an Email with a single word in the subject line: “Wow!”
I checked out his vast site and called Fred in New York — and we talked like long-lost first cousins. Fred is a United Church of Christ minister working full time with Mary Anne to explore spiritual themes in books and films. They’ve also developed training materials, online classes — and have a broad interfaith vision of ministry.
Day1 looks fresh online, but it’s really 60-plus years old. For most of its history, Day1 was known nationwide as a radio series called, The Protestant Hour. Today, spearheaded by executive producer Peter Wallace, the series still airs on 150 radio stations, mainly on Sundays. The flagship is 750-AM WSB-Atlanta. The Web site is loaded with great sermons. The Sermon Library is like a “MotherShip” of moving messages — and the sermons are even searchable by the biblical texts used!
Artist Shaun Tan is redefining the boundaries between children’s literature, graphic novels, fantasy, history and anthropology. His book, “The Arrival,” accomplishes all of this in a deeply moving story — without a single word of narration! But, this artist and writer has even grander visions, which he is projecting into a wide array of media. From painted murals to books, video and a host of other creative forms — Shaun Tan is a cross-cultural pioneer. Visit his incredibly colorful Web page and you’ll come away inspired, yourself! CLICK HERE to read our review of “The Arrival.”
Dinah Berland is the California-based poet whose own life was transformed by her
adaptation for modern readers of the 19th Century “Hours of
Devotion: Fanny Neuda’s Book of Prayers for Jewish Women.” In 1855, Neuda’s book
became the first full-length book of Jewish prayers written by a woman
In December, 2007, Dinah decided to establish her own Web site so that she could send out her own “voice” directly to readers around the world. This idea, of course, is among the founding principles behind the ReadTheSpirit project. So, we’re very happy to recommend her site to you. We believe this is the future of a lot of spiritually themed writing — directly and immediately linked between the voice and the community.
Beacon Press, a historic publishing house devoted to diversity and social justice, has ventured online with a site that reads to us like a hybrid between our ReadTheSpirit project and a traditional publishing-house Web site. It’s at: http://beaconpress.typepad.com/ We’ve got great respect for Editor Jessica Bennett, who is running the new site as 2008 opens. She’s gathering important voices from Beacon’s stable of famous authors and invites them to share updates, essays and viewpoints. Occasionally, you’ll also find Jessica and other Beacon staffers stepping into the site as well. The principles behind this Beacon site are very close to the founding principles behind ReadTheSpirit — and we wish Beacon well with this venture!
Eccentric Texas computer programmer Preston Hunter is a true online pioneer. He created http://www.Adherents.com way back when the Web was in its infancy. We use the word “eccentric” with great respect, because — despite all of his success with this massive database on religious membership — he stubbornly remains Old School Internet. He’s had zillions of visitors, but he steadfastly keeps his marvelously messy online home jammed willy-nilly with data stacked up like old newspapers in a hermit’s shack. If you want to see what many Web sites looked like way back in the mid 1990s, take a look at this glorious heap o’ facts. The MOST POPULAR SECTION of all on Preston’s site — at least among many veteran observers of faith and culture — is his burgeoning section devoted to the religious affiliations of comic book characters. Zowee!
Those of us working in online spirituality admire the vast, elegantly designed Mormon Web site: http://www.lds.org This rapidly growing denomination essentially is administered
through this site, which provides resources that congregations
use on a daily basis.
Non-Mormons are likely to get hooked on the genealogical
material. Click on “Family Search” to check
out those areas.
While you’re on the site, look at the
clean, clear elements of design. This is the only denominational site to break into the global Top-10 list of busiest religious Web sites. ReadTheSpirit is not a Mormon site. We’re not trying to convert anyone to any particular faith. Nevertheless, there’s a lot we can learn about Web design from the Mormons.
This powerful online Bible portal — http://biblegateway.com
— also broke into the Top 10 busiest religious sites because it’s so
flexible. The site now offers free searches of about two dozen
English-language versions, plus eight Spanish versions — and texts in
a host of other languages, as well.
There’s even a “preference”
page on the site so that you can customize the Gateway’s opening
screen. There are lots of other bells and whistles, including tools to add a “verse of the day” or a Gateway search form to your Web site.
Let’s turn from these Giants to an example of the many emerging
Giant-in-Vision Web sites popping up these days. One of the best is — http://www.turtleislandproject.org/
— sponsored by a close friend of ReadTheSpirit, the Rev. Dr. Lynn
Hubbard. Lynn has decades of experience in breaking down barriers of
religious bigotry. Now living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Lynn is
developing innovative seminars in a gorgeous setting along Lake
We admire courageous innovation — and there’s no site we’ve found with more courage and bold innovation than — http://www.thejewsoflebanon.org — a humanitarian project launched by an Eastern Michigan University senior named Aaron-Micaël Beydoun.
He’s a Muslim, Lebanese-American student who plans to devote his life to
promoting peace and religious freedom. So far, Beydoun has devoted more than a year to helping the scattered remnants of Lebanon’s Jewish
population strengthen their community and rebuild their landmarks.
“Sex. Hollywood. Politics. Science. The Next Big Thing. Good Stuff.”
Believe it or not, those are the main topics on this great new site
from the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of
Southern California — http://uscmediareligion.org/
No, this site is not intended to fuel sensationalism. Quite the opposite. The site offers a set of well-crafted,
multimedia resources to help journalists tackle tough stories
about faith and culture. Even if you’re not a journalist, it’s a
wonderful “listening post” for emerging trends.
Among the most popular insider Web sites for
journalists who are watching the latest news in religion, check out http://www.GetReligion.org
This is where journalists who truly care about accuracy and balance
in covering religion go to reset their own internal gauges. Written by top journalists, it’s a
fresh and insightful guide to what’s Good, Bad & Ugly in news media concerning faith and culture. And, there’s not a
better barometer for spotting religious news on the horizon.
Here’s an excellent example of unleashing the Web to help us see
the world more clearly — a goal shared by all
spiritual traditions. Three years ago, the
Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society decided to develop a portal for bloggers in the
world’s largely invisible countries. The result
is still blossoming at http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/
THE SINGLE BIGGEST OBJECTION to spiritually surfing the Internet is this: The Web is as dangerous as the Wild West!
I speak to many groups of readers, each year, and someone in the
crowd almost always raises this objection. And, it’s true: There are
bad things online. But, please, don’t fear the Web and turn away from
it because of some occasionally troubling content.
just David Crumm’s advice. That comes from the late Pope John Paul II himself (if
you missed an earlier article on the pope’s thoughts, click here to jump to that story).
It’s also the collective wisdom
of one of the fastest growing religious groups in the world: The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What else has broken into the Web’s Top 10 “busiest” religious-and-spiritual sites? The other 9 on this global Top 10 list are Muslim sites, an
astrology site, a site involving tarot cards and fortune telling, a big
missionary site in eastern Europe — and the Bible Gateway.
FINALLY — Once again, here’s that link to Email Us with your suggestions for this list!