Cover Story: Laughter in the Middle East?


SOUND STRANGE? Maybe—but it’s true!

The New York Post calls this interfaith comedy tour of Israel and the West Bank “a historic first.” The JNS wire service reports that the Laugh in Peace! interfaith laugh-fests already have broken down some barriers between Muslims and Jews in the U.S., especially on college campuses where both communities buy tickets and laugh side by side.

Now, in a series of shows with various Arab and Muslim comedians, Rabbi Bob Alper will see how Israelis and Palestinians respond to their cultural stew of stories. This week, our Cover Story reports on this daring comedy pilgrimage—including a couple of the new jokes Alper is willing to share with us in advance.


You’ll find a wealth of stories about such courageous pioneers at www.InterfaithPeacemakers.comOur entire team of contributing writers was thrilled this week to find a big, colorful story in the New York Times about peacemakers gathering in Los Alamos to mark the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima’s bombing with an anti-nuclear demonstration. Featured prominently in the Times photographs and story was James Lawson, a prophetic figure profiled by the founder of Interfaith Peacemakers, Daniel Buttry. The Times also covered peace activist John Dear, who was featured in a ReadTheSpirit interview in 2008, when Dear’s memoir was published.

If you missed our Cover Story last week—here is the list of stories we published to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombings in Japan.

SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVALDaniel Buttry continues to add terrific music videos this week to expand his online “Summer Music Festival” dedicated to the long tradition of promoting peace through music. Dan is serving up anti-war music from the Rolling Stones, Jackson Browne—and more!



A POTENT MIX OF VALUES—We welcome contributing writer Duncan Newcomer back to OurValues this week for a thought-provoking five-day series about the connections and collisions involving two of the most potent forces in the U.S.—Christianity and Patriotism.


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, among other news items, he spots a thought-provoking column in The Jewish Chronicle that offers an alternative interpretation of the blockbuster Jaws. Perhaps, says the Chronicle column, the subtext of Jaws was about the long legacy of anti-Semitism and Jewish self expression. Ken offers his own perspective—and also covers news about Jim Gaffigan and even “Gospel roller skating.” Check it out!



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

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY—Around the world, UN-co-sponsored programs are engaging youth and encouraging them to help with decision making on the planet’s future. The 2015 theme is “Youth Civic Engagement” and marks the 30th anniversary of the first International Year of Youth.

ASSUMPTION/DORMITION—Western and Eastern branches of Christianity mark the ancient festival honoring the end of the life on earth of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Catholics call this the Assumption of Mary; Orthodox know it as the Dormition of the Theotokos. The traditional observance extends back to the early centuries of Christianity.

OBON—The colorful festival with Buddhist roots, mingled with Japanese-Shinto traditions, reaches its crescendo in mid August in many communities, including the festive Bon Odori dance. And, this Obon story also has a news item about the American WWII veterans going to Japan on a peace pilgrimage to return sacred family flags of fallen Japanese soldiers.


COOKING HER WAY TO HEALTH—This weekFeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis tells the story of Jessica Fechtor who recovered from a near-fatal health crisis, partly through the food she ate, cooked and wrote about. And, Bobbie brings us a delicious recipe for asparagus soup.

TASTY BOUNTY OF SUMMER—Throughout the summer, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis has been serving up some terrific columns like this recipe for berry bread pudding that she promises is “the greatest thing since sliced bread”—and columns she calls Just for the Kale of It and Dishes Pop with Paprika.



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

SUZY FARBMAN—Sometimes, one family can make a big difference in the world. GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman writes about Paul and Patti Hreskos and their quest to help improve the foster-care system for children. (If you’re traveling this summer and missed it—last week Suzy wrote about the life and career of ballet star Misty Copeland.)

RODNEY CURTIS—Our resident satirist, aka author of The Spiritual Wanderer, tries to voice the frustration of many with Donald Trump’s angry rants against women and minorities. What if … Rodney wonders: What if … this was all just a Hollywood blockbuster?

KEN WILSON—Ken Wilson and his creative team at the Third Way Newsletter are opening doors at evangelical congregations coast to coast.

DR. DAVID GUSHEE—The author of Changing Our Mind is one of the regularly featured writers at Religion News Service (RNS).






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