Cover Story: The Coming of an Inclusive Pope

What Fuels Pope Francis’s Global Pilgrimage?

COVER STORY—The idea seems startling after decades of iron-fisted popes intent on enforcing Vatican rules on their billion-member church: What would Christianity look like if we had an inclusive pope at the helm of the world’s largest church? We hasten to add: No, Pope Francis has not changed Catholic doctrine or basic church law, just yet, but he certainly is signaling a new vision for Christianity. Americans are abuzz on the verge of his September 22-27 U.S. tour. ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm, a longtime specialist in covering religion, writes this week’s cover story analyzing the pope’s latest pronouncements.


The OurValues Project is designed to spark civil conversation about important issues of the day. And no topic is hotter than “religious freedom” at the moment. This week, we are drawing on a global overview of religious freedom assembled by two scholars studying the relationship between such freedom and the emergence of violent conflicts.



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


“HAJJ MUBARAK!” That’s an appropriate way to wish a “Blessed Hajj” to pilgrims and to Muslim friends, co-workers and neighbors who are focusing on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in late September. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the Hajj, including links to news items. And, we feature a personalized guide to the Hajj by Muslim leader Victor Begg.

HIGH HOLIDAYS, 5776We report on the Jewish New Year, the start of the Jewish High Holidays and, as always, we include lots of intriguing news related to the holidays.

YOM KIPPUR—Did you know that this year is the 50th anniversary of Sandy Koufax’s decision not to pitch on this important Jewish holiday? Stephanie Fenton has an overview of the holiday and a note on the Koufax anniversary as well.

AND FROM INDIA—It’s the annual festival celebrating the courageous god in Hindu tradition who has the head of an elephant: Ganesha.

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS has this overview of the holiday, including news about ecological trends in the creation of the countless elephant-shaped statues for the festival—and links to colorful Ganesha photos from around the world.

FEED THE SPIRIT welcomes Hindu scholar, writer and activist Padma Kuppa, who describes her family’s experiences with the festival, explains some of the traditions associated with this popular god, and provides a delicious recipe, as well!

THE BRISKET QUAGMIRE—FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis writes to our readers, this week: “My friends and I are busy planning menus for the Jewish fall holidays, which start with Rosh Hashanah on the evening of September 13 and continue on and off till sundown October 6. Brisket is an all-time holiday favorite.” And why is this a “quagmire”? Well, if you’re asking that question, then you probably haven’t tried to make a perfect brisket. It’s tricky. But Bobbie and guest writer Debbi Eber wade through the thicket of tips and techniques for readers, this week.



BACK TO SCHOOL—International peace activist Daniel Buttry invites readers to meet some of the younger generation of peacemakers. “They are taking us all back to school by new ways of organizing and expressing their activism, new ways of protest, new ways of creating community, new ways of expressing hope,” Buttry writes. This week’s trio includes:




1,200 is a treasure trove of movie reviews by veteran faith-and-film expert Edward McNulty.


WHERE DO YOU SEE FAITH EMERGING TODAY? That’s the provocative question raised by #FaithGoesPop columnist Ken Chitwood in this five-part OurValues series that you’re free to share with friends to spark a lively discussion. Here is Part 1 in the series—then, there’s an easy index to navigate all the parts.




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

A MOST UN-EXPECTED GOD SIGN—Every week, GodSigns author Suzy Farbman serves up inspiring stories about men and women whose lives are touched by unlikely moments of grace. But we can guarantee you’ve never encountered a GodSign like the one that literally bonked scholar Ginger Curtis on the head on one very auspicious day. Here’s her story. Enjoy!


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 continues to travel widely. NEW THIS WEEK! Open Door Community Church in Sherwood, Arkansas will honor author and theologian David Gushee this coming weekend with the Peggy Campolo Carrier Pigeon Award on Friday, September 18th.

According to Arkansas Online: The award is named for Campolo, wife of author, pastor and speaker Tony Campolo. She inspired the founding of Open Door Community Church. The name of the award comes from Peggy Campolo’s description of herself as a straight ally to the gay community, saying, “I’m just a carrier pigeon from the misunderstood to the misinformed.” The award is given each year to an individual who “gives love, support and a voice to the misunderstood children of God.”




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