COVER STORY: ‘Hope!’ That’s the one-word headline for the Best Stories of 2022.

Our annual ‘Best of the Year’ Issue

We all can give a dose of ‘HOPE’ to friends by sharing these stories.

FOR OUR COVER STORY—IN THE FINAL WEEK OF EACH YEAR, your faithful editor David Crumm reserves the front page of Read the Spirit magazine to look back over the previous 12 months and share links to those stories that sparked the most reader interest, the most communal conversations and the most all-around joy. Often, we have limited this to the year’s “10 Best” but this year, so many wonderful stories have touched readers’ lives that we are sharing a few more than 10.

Want to increase the sheer amount of hope in the world right now? Choose a couple of stories from the following list to share with friends via social media and email!

And, here’s the 2022 ‘Best’ List!

Suzy Farbman—

Every year, the columnist who is most consistently celebrated by our readers month after month is Suzy Farbman, whose God Signs columns introduce us to inspiring men and women doing remarkable things. Among her dozens of columns this year, there were two that especially stood out:

Celebrating the creative life that sprang from Detroit’s First Generation Cass Corridor Artists Suzy describes this story as: “How we invited Detroit’s first avant-garde art movement into our home.” It’s an introduction to Suzy’s new, beautifully illustrated coffee table book about her passion for Detroit and the fine arts.

An entire community contributes to bringing golf pioneer Ann Gregory’s life to the screen in “Playing Through” Readers were fascinated by this story of the first Black woman to play in a U.S. Open.

Stephanie Fenton—

Every single week of every year since 2007, Stephanie Fenton has chronicled the holidays, festivals and other milestones that define our communities around the world. This year, as always, we heard from loyal readers who share her columns with others. A chaplain at an East Coast hospital shares Stephanie’s stories with his staff to encourage cultural sensitivity. A cluster of churches near Seattle post links to Stephanie’s columns in a quarterly newsletter they share. Why are readers so intrigued by her coverage? Two main reasons: First, Stephanie celebrates diversity (examples include her Halloween Trio, her Haile Selassie, and her Declaration of the Bab columns). Second, Stephanie enjoys collecting valuable links to DIY crafts, activities and recipes (check out her Raksha Bandhan and her Lammas columns).

Martin Davis—

Journalist and author Martin Davis surprises readers with his columns on a wide range of issues. Now that Martin is the Editor of the Fredericksburg, VA, newspaper’s editorial page, we sometimes share links to his Fredericksburg columns on our magazine’s front page—and Martin occasionally shares columns by our other authors in his newspaper section. In 2022, Martin wrote two columns for us that stood out in the level of enthusiastic reader response we received at our home office:

Martin Davis shows us how great high school coaches shape the lives of millions of young Americans This column introduced Martin’s new book, 30 Days with America’s High School Coaches.

Feeding mind, body and spirit by ‘falling love with cooking again’ About once every year, Martin writes something about food and our readers always find those stories—delicious!

Howard Brown—

IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2022, Howard Brown began appearing as a weekly columnist in Read the Spirit, coinciding with the debut of his inspiring memoir Shining Brightly. Because “Hope” is a central theme of his new book—how to recover your own sense of hope and share it with others—he instantly became one of our most-shared columnists. Among his most talked about columns:

What am I thankful for this year? Millions of families like ours that don’t let disability keep anyone from the Thanksgiving table Howard’s columns are widely shared because he always tries to add valuable information that can help individuals and their families, as in this Thanksgiving column.

And the same is true in the following column: Howard Brown’s New Year’s Resolution: Kicking cancer is a team sport, so let’s all get involved.

Dr. David Gushee—

ONE VALUE shared by all of our writers is the goal of helping others. Our publishing house’s founding motto is “Good media builds healthy community.”

That is especially true of this column by Dr. David Gushee: The success of Dr. David Gushee’s ‘Changing Our Mind’ is measured in 25,000 lives inspired

Another major milestone was: ‘Introducing Christian Ethics’ welcomes us with multimedia storytelling We could have included a number of Dr. Gushee’s 2022 columns in this year-end “Best” roundup, because his compassionate voice consistently touches lives in a way that leads people to share his writing. However, this second Dr. Gushee headline actually was written by Ken Wilson—explaining why Dr. Gushee’s new book Introducing Christian Ethics is so important today.

Rabbi Lenore Bohm—

IN 2022, we launched Rabbi Lenore Bohm’s Torah Tutor: A Contemporary Torah Study Guide and Rabbi Bohm also contributed a series of columns on Jewish holidays and milestones.

One of her most timely holiday columns touched readers around the world: Passover’s power to inspire action—This year, we will be thinking of Ukraine Her contemporary rewording of Dayenu in this column summoned our collective heartbreak over the tragic Russian invasion of Ukraine—and focused Dayenu as a pledge of promoting peace and justice wherever we may live.

E. Stanley Jones—

AND SPEAKING OF PEACEMAKERS—Suddenly in 2022—thanks to author John E. Harnish’s research and writing of 30 Days with E. Stanley Jones—men and women nationwide rediscovered an evangelist with a uniquely inclusive vision of the world. Jones’ approach to welcoming colleagues from other faith traditions certainly was “unique” for his era, which is why he wound up playing a key role in connecting the wisdom of Gandhi with the young Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Here’s the story that introduced Harnish’s new book about Jones: Can the prophetic voice of E. Stanley Jones revive a life-giving love of Jesus?

Benjamin Pratt—

SINCE WE PUBLISHED Benjamin Pratt’s first book Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins and 007’s Moral Compass in 2008, Benjamin has consistently been one of our most beloved columnists. His style varies widely from prayers and parables to poems and even brief meditations connected with images.

One of his most-talked-about columns in 2022 was: ‘What did you do this summer?’ Benjamin Pratt sends us postcards from his JazZen Journey

AND SPEAKING OF JAZZ—Benjamin Pratt is not alone in his taste of music. There are several jazz lovers among our publishing house staffers, so one of our special pleasures in 2022 was featuring this Cover Story about a new biography of jazz pioneer Mary Lou Williams, headlined: Deanna Witkowski invites us to immerse ourselves in the spiritual jazz of Mary Lou Williams

Native Americans—

COLLECTIVELY IN 2022, our writers shared an interest in emerging Native American stories, since across North America there is a fresh effort by American and Canadian leaders to address unresolved injustices.

The single story that drew the most reader interest was a story by Carol Trembath about the Native American women known as Water Walkers. Carol Trembath on a Native Perspective on the Spiritual Wonders of Water 

Brian McLaren—

WHEN WE WRITE ABOUT “OUR COMMUNITY OF WRITERS” we include a wide circle of friends who have been supporters of our publishing efforts over many years. One of those friends is best-selling author Brian McLaren who writes and speaks frequently about themes close to the hearts of our publishing house. Brian is a man of deep faith who understands the importance of asking the hard questions about truth and justice in our troubled world.

We were pleased, this year, to feature a Cover Story with Brian, headlined: Brian McLaren asks ‘Do I Stay Christian?’ Then, he explains why that question is so urgent in our world.

Laura Smith—

COMING IN 2023 is our publishing house’s first cozy mystery by Georgia-based author Laura Smith.

Our preparatory work with Laura in 2022 sparked a column that has been widely shared by mystery fans and prospective authors since this headline appeared: What is a cozy mystery? And how can I write a cozy mystery? 

Edward McNulty—

AT THE BOTTOM OF EACH  WEEKLY ISSUE of Read the Spirit is our Faith & Film section, which is the realm of long-time film critic Edward McNulty. His specialty for many years has been helping readers to see the connections between our spiritual roots and the movies that debut each month. Two of Ed’s most popular columns in 2022 were reflections on a documentary about the late Leonard Cohen’s most famous song, Hallelujah. Those two columns were headlined:

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song  

AND: Some Thoughts on Two Leonard Cohen Songs

Now What?

ONE OF OUR MOST VALUABLE BOOKS for the millions of Americans grappling with issues related to aging is called Now What? A Guide to the Gifts and Challenges of Aging

In 2022, we published a free chapter of that book under a headline that caught the eyes of readers around the world: ‘Now What?’ Join a congregation. Research shows that simple step encourages health and wellbeing.

Have a Happy (and Safe) New Year!

AND PLEASE COME BACK TO ENJOY OUR JANUARY 2, 2023, first issue of the new year!










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