Sample Planner for the Week of May 26: 007, Saints’ Relics, Stem Cells and Wired’s Wrongs

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 May 26:

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


Today is Memorial Day
and I’m proud to say that it was my wife’s cousin, historian David
Blight, who rewrote the history of this holiday. All sorts of stories
have been told about its origin, but Blight has documented its
beginning in 1865 when black families honored fallen Union soldiers in
Charleston, S.C.


And, here’s a much newer holiday that we hope more people will celebrate! On Thursday, it’s the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 and in 2002 this holiday was established.


For Baha’is, Thursday marks the Ascension of Baha’u’llah.

For Catholics, Friday is the Feast of the Sacred Heart.


Finally, we have two centennials this week that relate to the spiritual shape of our culture: Ian Fleming (who gave us James Bond) was born 100 years ago Wednesday — and Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny and dozens of other cartoon characters) was born 100 years ago this Friday.



“How Will I Be Remembered?”

Everyone’s raising this question this week.

For example, NPR debuted a week of Fleming coverage on Sunday was a retrospective on how the character Q shaped our culture.

But, there’s much
more unfolding here than holidays and anniversaries. This week, for
example, a powerful new documentary about stem-cell research comes out
on DVD, and we’ll have  coverage of it because this film is all about
how this controversial research relates to spiritual issues.

All around us, right
now, people are “summing up” life. Another example: I’m reviewing
Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman’s new book (for June release) called,
“Why the Dalai Lama Matters.”

At the core of this
question of how we’ll be remembered are the eternal religious
questions: Is there resonance of good and evil in the universe? Does
anything we do in life  truly matter?

Powerful stuff. Don’t miss our coverage this week — and, please, tell us where you’re seeing this question emerge!




Struggling With Memorial Day?

Remember … and Talk to a Veteran …

Last week, I heard
from a number of readers, including clergy, about conflicting feelings
as Memorial Day approaches. Of course we want to honor men and women
who sacrificed their lives, but we’re also weary of war. One healthy
approach is what we do every day at ReadTheSpirit: Listen. And talk to

We’d love to hear
your reflections on these themes. Send us a prayer that’s helpful to
you, a thought, an idea you’ve heard from a friend, a photograph.
Sharing readers’ stories is one of our main goals.


An Unusual Approach to Prayer

for Men and Women in U.S. Armed Forces

As we just said, we
love to hear from readers — and want to thank reader (and occasional
contributor) Tim Moran for spotting what has to be one of the most
unusual approaches to prayer for military personnel, at least by a
major denomination.

Roman Catholic
authorities in the U.S. are cooperating with the nonprofit group that,
for years, has been staging tours of saints’ relics. (For
non-Catholics, this is part of the centuries-old tradition of finding
spiritual strength while praying near the bones of saints.)

On its Web site, the Catholic group behind this project currently is displaying just one part of its Military Patron Saints tour
(a July visit to Los Angeles). But, an earlier article about the group
that Tim spotted described the group’s plan to send these relics around
the world to various U.S. military bases. The saints whose remains
(enclosed in tasteful reliquaries) may be coming to a military base
near you include Saints Anthony of Padua (patron of sailors), Therese
of Lisieux (patron of pilots and air crews) and Ignatius of Loyola
(patron of soldiers) — according to the tour sponsors.

Thanks, Tim, for passing along that news.


Buddhism for Children:

A Reader Alerts Us to a Treasure

Readers love
Buddhist writer Geri Larkin — that’s the only way to describe readers’
reactions to stories I’ve written involving Geri over the years. We just featured Geri’s new book, “Plant Seed, Pull Weed.”

And, in our recent
story, Geri complained about the lack of children’s books about
Buddhism. Reader Dee Chapell Emailed to point out what looks like a great source: Parallax Press.
Now, I haven’t reviewed these books myself, but Dee speaks fondly of
them — and most are written by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is certainly a
venerable name in contemporary Buddhist teaching.


A Convergence of Good Friends:

Spiritual Cinema Circle meets “ONE”

It’s always great news when friends of ReadTheSpirit converge.

We’ve just learned about next month’s Feature Film that’s lined up for the growing network of subscribers to the Spiritual Cinema Circle (a high-quality movie club that, each month, sends thousands of subscribers a DVD containing several spiritually themed films).

If you sign up for
the Circle now, “ONE” is the next feature film you’ll receive. “ONE” is
a ground-breaking documentary that we’ve long admired. In April, we
featured an in-depth Conversation With Ward and Diane Powers, the remarkable couple of first-time filmmakers who produced the feature-length film.



Wired Wrongs Make Righteous Reading

Even if the jarring, neon layouts in Wired Magazine give you headaches — you must buy the June issue if you care about spiritual trends in global culture. This is soooo cool!
For its 15th anniversary, the magazine that claims to pretty much own
the cutting edge — tries to do a journalistic back flip and go
historical on us. There’s a mind-boggling 4-page centerfold that
attempts to chart 15 years of cultural and scientific change. (I defy
you to make sense of it, but you’ll have a good hour of fun trying.)

Then, as an encore
to the huge chart, Wired founder Louis Rossetto devotes a half dozen
pages to admitting embarrassing things that Wired got WRONG.

Humble. Fascinating. Must read.



The Brightest Response to Gay Marriage

Leave it to NPR humorist Brian Unger to give us the freshest take on gay marriage
— an issue so frequently flogged in the news media that any of us can
recite both sides in the debate in our sleep! When Brian began his
report last week, I was driving to an appointment and had to sit in a
parking lot to hear all of it — laughing out loud as Brian went on and

Now, that’s saying
something about a debate that has bloodied and bruised the older
generations of religious leaders — even though one poll after another
says the issue isn’t even on the moral radar screens for most younger
Americans anymore.

I won’t spoil
Brian’s punchlines (listen for yourself via the link above). I just
want to salute him for coming up for a fresh approach to covering a
story that most veteran journalists thought had been written to death
years ago.


This Week Inside ReadTheSpirit

We’re going to be exploring …

TODAY (Monday), we salute Memorial Day
with a special piece that’s moving, memorable — and you may want to
share with a friend. (Check out our new “Share This” feature at the top
of our Web pages, which makes it super-easy to share stories with
friends, family and members of your weekly group.)

Tuesday, our
weekly Quiz returns with a Mix ‘n’ Match challenge that we bet you’ll
also want to share with someone. (Hmmm. Did we mention our new “Share
This” feature?)

you’ll meet the leading expert in the final spiritual challenges in
life — eulogies for the departed. In our Conversation With Cyrus
Copeland, he shares his top tips for sending a loved one away with a
terrific eulogy. Don’t miss it.

And there’s much more in store Thursday and Friday
— including our review of that important new documentary on stem cells
— and we plan to share more of your reader comments on recent films.
(There’s still time to share your thoughts with us on what you’ve seen
at the movies!)

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