Cover Story: New song lets us pray for hope, action after Charleston church tragedy

Are you singing this new song?

COVER STORY—A new song prayerfully joins in the nationwide efforts to find healing, hope and fresh commitment after the tragic shootings in a Charleston church. It’s true: Music can change the world. Last week, we reported on a Catholic-Jewish song-writing duo giving the world a new song based on Pope Francis’s prayer for creation. This week, thanks to readers like you, we are reporting on a famous hymn writer whose song for the tragedy in Charleston is spreading around the world. We’ve talked to musicians who are spreading this new song; and, we’ve got a video and also all the words so you can share it, too.


KEEP SINGING!—Global peacemaker Daniel Buttry is bringing us a Summer Music Festival featuring music videos guaranteed to get your toes tapping. (Warning: These tunes stick in your mind and might inspire you to commit acts of kindness.) This week, Dan serves up videos of musicians around the world celebrating the “Shalom” in all three Abrahamic faiths. Last week, Dan featured “Classic Songs” of peace from Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Bob Marley. You can find all the inspiring stories at Dan’s Please, pass this peace along!


OUR VALUES—What’s your favorite marriage story? As you’ll discover in today’s Part 1 of the new OurValues series, it’s important that we all discuss what it means to be married. So, this week, OurValues creator Dr. Wayne Baker is welcoming author and counselor Dr. Benjamin Pratt who often writes about the challenges and rewards of marriage. Ben starts by admitting that he’s now had twelve marriages! No kidding!


Don’t miss a holiday! Tell friends about our master calendar of festivals, observances and milestones.

CELEBRATING WITH DISNEY—Got your Mouse Ears out this week? Millions of Americans are celebrating with the Disney “family” as the original Disneyland reaches its 60th anniversary this week. Our team at ReadTheSpirit already has featured popular stories about Disney, this year. This week, Holidays writer Stephanie Fenton reports on the 60th anniversary.

OBON or ULLAMBANAA festival with Japanese and Buddhist roots, Obon is a time for homecomings, dances, storytelling and decorating household altars. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton has the whole colorful story, which spans a month of festivities in many parts of the world. One of the most beautiful traditions? The floating or air-born lanterns as spirits are sent onward.

‘THE EID’ IS COMING—You’ll enjoy Bobbie Lewis story about Amanda Saab, who is America’s most famous Muslim chef, thanks to her weeks on the TV show Master Chef. Amanda now is back with her family preparing for the worldwide Muslim festival known as Eid-al-Fitr, which ends Ramadan just after July 17 this year, Stephanie Fenton reportsAnd there’s more …

A TASTE OF YEMEN—For Jewish families from Yemen, warm kubaneh (Sabbath bread) is a buttery treat from home. Today, headlines from Yemen tell of tragic violence and, after a historic exodus to Israel, few Jews remain in that homeland. This week, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis tells a remarkable story of traditional bread and family customs (and, yes, there’s a recipe).


1,200 is a treasure trove of movie reviews.

FAITH GOES POP—The creative mind of columnist Ken Chitwood serves up a mixed bag of religion sightings. This week, comedian Jim Gaffigan brings his “dumb Dad” comedy persona to the TVLand network for the much-heralded debut of a new series based loosely on his real life as a standup comedian. (The New York Times just profiled him.) In Ken Chitwood’s column, you’ll love Gaffigan’s utterly honest routine about the conflicting emotions involved in going to his Catholic church. Ken found a wonderful video clip to share!


One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …

The Rev. Martha Spong and her Internet friends known collectively as RevGalBlogPals have won the United Church of Christ Antoinette Brown award! (That’s Martha at left in the trio of women in the accompanying photo.) Her online network of columnists, RevGals, was honored as a vital “catalyst” connecting churches with the larger world. Recently, ReadTheSpirit featured this in-depth interview with Martha about her work both online and in the new book by SkyLight Paths, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. In our review of their new book, we write: “We guarantee that you’ll enjoy these inspirational, often downright funny and sometimes emotionally stirring stories. Read one a day for a couple of months.”

GOD SIGNS—Author Suzy Farbman shares the inspiring story of a most unlikely artist who expressed his faith in vivid murals. Part 1: “Diamonds of wood spark inspiration.” Part 2: “Christian relay team pitches in to help Ed Lantzer fulfill his vision.”

BOB ALPER—The author of Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This continues to criss-cross the nation. Look for a stand-up appearance near you!

KEN WILSON—Ken Wilson and his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter are making a big difference in opening up evangelical congregations coast to coast. See a recent New York Times story. If you’re interested in this pioneering work, you’ll want to read …

DR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind is becoming one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service. Are you near Georgia this month? Dr. Gushee will be preaching at the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia, on Sunday mornings through the end of July.

In news coverage of Americans’ rapidly changing attitudes toward LGBT Christians, Dr. Gushee’s book and his nationwide series of talks this year are often credited with changing hearts and minds.







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