MEET BOB ALPER—In our Cover Story this week, we talk with the popular author and stand-up comedian Bob Alper. His new book Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This is packed with dozens of Bob’s true stories. It’s a perfect choice for individual reading or group discussion. And, the goal of this book? By enjoying Bob’s stories, you’ll think about your own everyday experiences in powerful new ways. You’ve got memorable stories to share, as well. And, if you discover those stories? Then, Bob says, you’ll find new meaning in life. What a perfect message as spring is dawning!
SPEAKING OF “SHARING STORIES”—Another popular author, Benjamin Pratt, continues his storytelling challenge for one more week. He invites readers to enjoy an inspiring “new” story, called “The Two of Us,” based on a century-old novel beloved by families around the world. Can you guess which novel? That’s the challenge. Email the answer to us—and you might win a signed copy of Ben’s new book.
HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
EASTER—More than 2 billion Christians around the world celebrate their core belief that crucifixion by Roman authorities did not end Jesus’s life.
- HOLY WEEK—Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the worldwide traditions of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
- JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES—Stephanie reports on an unusual Christian observance of the Last Supper.
- FEED THE SPIRIT—Food columnist Bobbie Lewis tells a heart-warming story of a hard lesson she learned as a child about: Easter Eggs. Plus, she’s got an unusual recipe you may want to make for your holiday table—vegetarian chopped liver.
- THE HOLIDAY—Jewish scholar Joe Lewis and Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton collaborate on telling the story of Passover.
- WHY PASSOVER MATTERS—Debra Darvick shares an inspiring story about Passover both changes and remains the same in her family.
- FEED THE SPIRIT—Bobbie Lewis tells readers about the fascinating Jewish custom of scouring the house to get rid of “chametz” before Passover. Plus, yes, she’s got another tasty recipe—pineapple kugel (and, it’s gluten free)!
ALL THE HOLIDAYS—You’ll find easy links to all the holidays at www.InterfaithHolidays.com
- MAHAVIR JAYANTI—Stephanie Fenton reports on a major Jain holiday, which is part of a diverse and lengthy holiday period in India.
- HANUMAN JAYANTI—Across India and in many other parts of the world, Hindus celebrate the birth of the courageous, clever deity often called “the monkey god.“
COMPULSORY VOTING—This week, sociologist Wayne Baker reports on a policy used in countries that want to maximize voter participation. President Obama recently raised the idea here. It could have big benefits, depending on how we, as Americans, balance our values surrounding the ballot box.
- PART 1—How about getting paid to vote?
- PART 2—Would it compel the young to vote?
- PART 3—Is it a violation of freedom of speech?
- PART 4—Would it help reduce political polarization?
- PART 5—Is “Democracy Day” a better idea?
FAITH, FILM AND POPULAR CULTURE
VISUAL PARABLES—See all of Edward McNulty’s faith-and-film reviews at www.VisualParables.org
- WHILE WE’RE YOUNG—This thoughtful, funny Noah Baumbach film with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts is 5-out-of-5-stars good, says Ed McNulty.
- WILD TALES—Ed says: It’s 6 tales in 1 film from Argentina and earns 5 stars.
DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD
INTERFAITH PEACEMAKERS—In April, global peacemaker and author Daniel Buttry turns to Latin America to honor courageous peacemakers who continue to inspire us, today. Tell friends about www.InterfaithPeacemakers.com for more than 100 heroic stories you can share with others.
NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK—This year, it’s April 12-18, and GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman tells the inspiring story of a volunteer who became a nationally known innovator in helping families with mental health issues. Headline: “Her lifelong journey to help others began with a single … crash.”
BULLYING IS NO LAUGHING MATTER—Another great resources for classes and small groups is www.BullyingIsNoLaughingMatter.com where we display an ever-changing array of comics (with activity guides) that adults can use with kids to talk about the tough challenge of putting a stop to bullying. This week’s featured comic is “Alison Ward,” by Rene Lopez.
KEEP IN TOUCH—The www.ThirdWayNewsletter.com is part of the changing Christian landscape that is welcoming diverse men and women. You can easily sign up for free email updates.
- NEW THIS WEEK—The surprising news out of Indiana, from AP to the New York Times, involves conservative politicians facing a tidal wave of negative responses to anti-LGBT measures.
DAVID GUSHEE—The latest appearance by the author of Changing Our Mind is March 31 at New York University’s Deutsches Haus, where he will be a panelist discussing inter-faith dialogue as a way to look at discrimination and co-operation among faith groups and towards LGBT persons. His ongoing efforts are included in a major story in the Christian Science Monitor, a story that was picked up and carried in The Christian Century magazine as well.