Cover Story: Why the faith of millions is deepening now

Are Americans Becoming Less Religious?

Trust_MagazineCOVER STORY—Pew researchers asked 35,000 Americans about their religious lives and, yes, by some markers this nation appears less religiously affiliated. The big surprise in this landmark research? In fact, most Americans are becoming more involved in prayer, Bible study—and spiritual reflections on their lives in general! The new cover story of Pew’s TRUST magazine is perfectly timed for the majority of Americans who now are entering the intensively religious season of Lent.

If you’re a regular ReadTheSpirit reader, we’re sure you’ll find these stories fascinating—and inspirational …

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Connecting Faith with Daily Life

Mosaic of loaves and fishes in Church of the Multiplication near the Sea of GalileeWHY DO WE GATHER? Oh, sure! If you’re a regular reader, you can easily list common reasons that people are moved to attend services at churches, synagogues, temples and mosques. But, author and columnist Benjamin Pratt returns to the pages of ReadTheSpirit this week—with a different answer to that question. It might be an answer you’ve forgotten, at the moment.

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COVER_Seven Last Words by Father James MartinHUMAN SIDE OF JESUS—James Martin SJ is famous for his many inspirational books, often spiced with his trademark good humor. You may have seen him in major newspapers, magazines or appearing on television. For Lent 2016, Martin turns to the final seven sayings of Jesus—called Seven Last Words in Christian tradition. Of course, Martin is a Catholic priest, but this new book is perfect for anyone—Catholic, Protestant or unaffiliated—who would like to meet Jesus, again, from a fresh and personal perspective. Please, read our interview with James Martin SJ about his new book, Seven Last Words.

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An Ancient Connection: Faith and Food

Hands-Making-PretzelsSYMBOL OF THE PRETZEL—The food and drink that we consume, each day, has been woven since ancient times into the world’s great religious tradition. Water begins and ends the Christian Bible. Religious rituals around the world involve food and drink. As Lent begins around the world, the story of one centuries-old symbol—the pretzel—may have been largely forgotten in many communities. GodSigns author and columnist Suzy Farbman recently rediscovered the story and shares it with readers this week.

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vegetarian black-bean-sloppy-joe (1)FEED THE SPIRIT—Whether they are fully observant of Lenten fasting traditions or not—millions of Christian families do reflect on the relationship between food and faith at this time of year. Many “give up” certain things, often foods. And Eastern Orthodox Christians give up many foods in the fast of Great Lent. This week in FeedTheSpirit, we are featuring a guest column by Christine Gutleben, director of Faith Outreach for the Humane Society of the United States. She raises questions about our consumption that you may find inspiring—and she has a terrific recipe for vegetarian Sloppy Joes.

 

ALL THE HOLIDAYS …

DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.
100 Questions and Answers about African Americans copy

Mark Black History Month …

CONFRONTING RACISM WITH … INFORMATION—The highly respected Bias Busters team at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is marking this year’s Black History Month by adding a new cross-cultural guide to the growing series. These short books now are used widely in professional training programs, cultural-sensitivity seminars—and many other settings where people are trying to build healthier communities. MSU’s Joe Grimm has the story of how this new book was created. ANDYou’ll find all of the MSU guides displayed in our bookstore.

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Another New Year

Bahai-gardens-Haifa (1)BAHA’I NEW  YEAR AND … Baha’is around the world continually update their religious calendar so that holidays fall roughly in the appropriate seasons. Stephanie Fenton reports both on the upcoming Baha’i New Year as well as the way this religious group adapts its calendar.

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FILM, FAITH
& POPULAR CULTURE

ENJOY DISCUSSING MOVIES? Get a copy of faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s new book Jesus Christ, Movie Starit’s full of thought-provoking reading and questionsAND—the new February 2016 issue of Visual Parables Journal includes Ed’s Top 10 Films of 2015. The Journal is perfect for your own inspiration as you enjoy movies—or for classes and small groups.

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