Monday, November 9, 2009

Rebecca, Interview #89



Name: Rebecca


Where you live: Chicago, IL

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am active in helping to build an emergent church,

Wicker Park Grace (http://www.wickerparkgrace.net/)

and to host the monthly Emergent Village discussion group in our area.
Professionally, I am looking for a position that will allow me to use my recently acquired Masters in Public Policy to be a change agent on behalf of marginalized communities.

Basically, after being a high school teacher and a non-profit manager, I want to change the world at a systemic level.


Your two favorite books: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and The Collected Works of Tamora Pierce (http://www.tamorapierce.com/). The former is a perfect combination of the post-Modern ironic tone and a good action story for smart people and the latter are several series of books with strong adolescents as their protagonists. I re-read at least one every year to remind me that I am still embarrassingly adolescent in many ways in my development. But that means that I can still change the parts of me that I don't like. There is hope there.


Your two favorite songs: Leonard Cohen's "Anthem" and Vance Gilbert's "Unfamiliar Moon" (http://www.vancegilbert.com/). The redemption offered in "Anthem" recently saved my stressful experience of planning a second wedding and the music of Vance Gilbert has been a touchstone in my life for the last 15 years.

Why you are interested in spirituality? I seem to be wired this way. My mom once left me a voice mail because she had been reading about how they may have found a gene for spirituality. She worried, in the most motherly of ways, that mine might be mutated . I still laugh when I think of that message and regret accidentally deleting it. I think she was referencing the dissatisfaction that I've felt for so much of my life with the way spirituality gets lived out in most Christian churches that I've been attached to. I had a major ugly-duckling-realizing-I'm-actually-a-swan moment when I found the emergent Christianity movement. What I strive for is to live a life of meaning and continual transformation to deepen my awareness and contribution to creating shalom or rightness in this world. I believe we are all a little incomplete and we can only find that completeness in a community that reflects and welcomes God and God's law but have a fairly non-traditional idea of what that law probably is.



Your favorite quote: "How am I to talk of God to the millions who have to go without two meals a day? To them God can only appear as bread and butter." Gandhi


I think this quote can be interpreted both physically and metaphysically. Millions of folks are also starving for God in the form of something other than what traditional church has offered them.

Your favorite web sites: http://www.soulemama.com/;










Your hero? I haven't thought about this one in awhile. Right now, I'll default to my dad since he's 62 and still reflecting on himself and how his behavior affects others. He's always trying to be more loving. He's come a long way and still has a long way to go but he never stops and rests on his laurels. I would like to have that said about me at any point in my life.


A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? I would like to be self-confident enough that I can see other people's behaviors as reflection of their own internal conflicts rather than personal attacks on my right to exist in comfort. I know that it is true in theory but I'd like to be able to live it out in practice. Making space for others to be who they are seems to be an act of intense love.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Sitting with my husband at church or synagogue.


Read more about Rebecca at these sites:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jan Phillips, Interview #88




Name: Jan Phillips

Where you live: San Diego, CA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Teach/speak/write

Your two favorite books: The Gift by Hafiz; Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

Your two favorite songs: Alphabet Mantra, My Body, My Temple from my CD Singing for the Soul

Why you are interested in spirituality? Interested in life and all life is essentially spirit

Your favorite quote: "There is someone out there who needs you. Live your life so that person can find you." Balinese dancer

Your favorite web sites: http://www.ted.com/ http://syracuseculturalworkers.com/


Your hero? bill moyers

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? i reside in the heart of my staunchest opponent

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" HERE



Jan is the author of The Art of Original Thinking-The Making of a Thought Leader

Divining the Body

Marry Your Muse

God is at Eye Level

Making Peace

A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stephen P. Edwards, Interview #87




Name: Stephen P. Edwards

Where you live: Sarasota, Florida, But I’m originally from Blackpool England

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I have my hand in many different things. I travel around the country teaching students about financial literacy, the importance of having it, and how it will impact their life. I also teach them how to get it.


I teach financial principles from a perspective of helping others and by having financial literacy you cannot be taken advantage of.


I teach people how to face their fears and break free from the things that have been holding them back.


It is my passion to help navigate people through the transformative shift we are seeing our planet and concousness go through right now.


I invest actively in real estate. I am the author of Communion-Cating with God, and Your Miracle Life Audio program. I am currently writing a new book called Quantum Wealth, which will teach people the true meaning of wealth, which is not just a lot of money. The book will also show you how to get it. I am a speaker on subjects such as money, wealth, real estate and spirituality. I do mind body and spirit transformative weekend seminars.

Your two favorite books: Conversations with God by Neil Donald Walsch. I just finished reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown and loved it. I also enjoy books by Gregg Braden.

Your two favorite songs: Truly Madly Deeply; Savage Garden & Amazing; Seal

Why you are interested in spirituality? I believe we are living in the greatest time to ever be alive and currently we are experiencing a great shift. We are heading to a period of enlightenment and it is my joy to help people transcend through this time. I have always felt a connection with a higher power and realized that we all are connected and have that connection. Some people know how to access it and some do not. It is my passion to help every one connect to that higher power and thus live a life of miracles, a life that is full.

Your favorite quote: Every thing done in darkness eventually comes to light.


By Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.




Your favorite web sites: I enjoy Facebook because it gives me a chance to connect with people. J


Your hero: My Mum, she is amazing and strong, my Auntie Barbara for her strength, Nelson Mandela, Soldiers fighting for our freedoms, Mother Theresa, Jesus, Buddah, Ghandi,

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? To continuously live in the present and in the NOW.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" I feel most connected when I am spending time with my wife Jenn.


The number 23 has a profound impact in my life and when I see it, the number reminds me to get present.


We love Hawaii, Mexico and New Mexico (Angel Fire).


I do not have to go any where to feel connected, I can feel that way in my home, car, on a plane, while listening to music etc.


You can reach me at: http://www.seemiracles.com/

http://blog.seemiracles.com/


Eva Ravenwood, Interview #86


Name: Eva Ravenwood

Where you live: Atlanta, Georgia USA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Mystic, Radio Blog Host, Eco Spiritualist, and Author of an exploration into spirituality, mysticism and mediumship titled The Next God.

Your two favorite books:
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler and Urban Meltdown by Clive Doucet

Your two favorite songs:
I Can't Stop the Rain by Carl Anderson, and I Wanna Thank You by Mavis Staples

Why you are interested in spirituality?
In my opinion, it is our single reason for existing on this plane, on this planet, in this dimension -- to experience many material occurrences over numerous incarnations, so that we can grow spiritually to become our best spiritual selves and evolved spiritual beings eventually. How we respond to those situations as presented to us throughout life, or lives, determines our
spiritual growth, and thus our individual forward movement and participation in our collective spiritual movement. It is the purpose of our lives. To learn fully, to do no harm to self, no harm to others and be our best spiritual selves at all times. All we know can be covered with these simple dictates, if we don't over-think and complicate things. It is important to remember however, that if we are on this plane, we probably are in the kindergarten group of the universe.

Your favorite quote:
"Never make someone a priority when you are only an option to them" -- Author Unknown. I find it important to keep our energetic balance ever in perspective, as that is part of our quest for spiritual growth. Don't over take, or over give to the point of being spiritually lopsided. This sums it up! The Creator neither wants doormats or predators.

Your favorite web sites:
http://www.earthship.com/
http://www.shirleymaclaine.com/
http://www.custombiltmetals.com/
http://www.zeitgiestmovie.com/

Your hero?
That changes daily, usually according to whomever I find who is living their lives to the fullest, with changing and improving the world as their evident goal. Right now it is my friend Dashanaba who just hustled up 5,000 pairs of donated eyeglasses for villagers in Ghana who are all losing their eyesight because they are too far away from clean drinking water to get it, and often resort to drinking the sea water that they live next to in their village, and are thus, losing their eyesight. Often, it is either the organization Kiva, or Water for People.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
To maintain patience even when faced with acts of people who display extreme disregard for the safety, health, well-being and concern of others in their path, or worse, under their care.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Almost any ocean or by the water. In Atlanta, at a lovely park called Sweetwater.

Eva's sites:
http://www.free-mind-body-spirit.com/
http://www.evaravenwood.com/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Valerie Elverton Dixon, Interview #85



Name: Valerie Elverton Dixon

Where you live: East St. Louis, Illinois

Vocation or Avocation: I am a scholar and a writer.

Two favorite books:
Against Ethics by John D. Caputo is one of my favorite books. I appreciate his literary style of writing philosophy.
Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems by Sonia Sanchez is also one of my favorites. Sonia Sanchez writes poems aflame with a passion for justice. She also writes tender poems of love that are warm-glowing, long-burning embers.

Two favorite songs:
Amazing Grace
Any version
Everything Must Change It reminds me that wounded hearts do heal and mysteries do unfold.

Why you are interested in spirituality:
I do not know why I am interested in spirituality. It is a mystery that has yet to unfold. My best guess is that I believe that our spiritual self is the eternal self, the part of us that will stay with people and the world long after the body dies. It is the part of us that will return to God.

Favorite quote:
“Take nothing for granted; take everything as possible.” ---
Katherine Dunham, an anthropologist, dancer and choreographer

Favorite Web Sites:
JustPeaceTheory.com
God’s Politics
On Faith

Tikkun Daily Blog
I publish at all of these sites. I especially appreciate the dedicated efforts of my colleagues at God’s Politics, On Faith and Tikkun Daily Blog. They are working hard to develop this aspect of new media to bring thinking to the public discourse that is engaging and that sees matters of faith and spirituality as vital to public policy decision making."
My hero:
My hero is a shero. She is Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) Barnett was a teacher, journalist, suffragist, wife, mother and relentless fighter for social justice, most especially the end of lynching.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn:
The problem is not learning the various spiritual lessons. Many of us know the basic teachings of the great spiritual leaders. The problem is living the lessons. The lesson that is a challenge for me to live at the moment is to do my work with faith and with integrity, trusting that the
outcome will be righteous and just.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually “connected”:
I feel spiritually connected in communal worship. I enjoy church. I love singing, praying, laughing, crying, witnessing to the goodness of God with others. I gain strength and encouragement from a good sermon and from the music ministry. I like to look around me and see people from infants to elders in community giving praise and thanksgiving to an awesome God who is love.

I invite everyone to visit my web site: JustPeaceTheory.com. You may read
my essays and lectures there. I hope to publish the site in book form next year. Please leave us your e-mail address so that we may alert you when I have posted something new. Thanks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jayanti Tamm, Interview #84


Name: Jayanti Tamm

Where do you live: I currently live in New Jersey, the Garden State, although near my
house there aren’t many gardens.

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I teach creative writing at Ocean County College.

Your two favorite books: I’m awestruck by the beauty of Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing. Her
book, The Interpreter of Maladies, is one I continue to reread in hopes of learning her
secrets of storytelling. Another stunning book is Lying Awake by Mark Salzman; he
explores the complexities between madness and the divine.

Your two favorite songs: I’m an unabashed devoted fan of The Smiths. The song “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” is one that, decades later, still gives me chills. My other favorite song sung by Morrissey is “Cemetry Gates.” Not too many pop songs include Keats, Yeats, and Oscar Wilde all inside one song."

Why you are interested in spirituality? My involvement in spirituality began before I was born. It was my parents who, like so many seekers in the late 1960s, were actively searching for a teacher to guide them down a spiritual path. When they found Sri Chinmoy, a newly arrived guru from India, in New York City, they believed that he was the true holy man they had long sought. Sri Chinmoy married them in a ‘divine marriage,’ and initiated them as his disciples. The guru quickly turned the informal spiritual path into a rigorous cult, setting rules and demanding absolute obedience. One of his new rules was that all disciples—even married ones—were to be celibate. Shortly after my parents’ wedding, my mother became pregnant—a clear violation of the rules. While the Guru was initially angry at my parents’ disobedience, he later created a story that he was going to transform their mistake into a blessing. He claimed that he chose from the highest heavens a special soul to incarnate on earth as his dearest disciple; I was to be his perfect devotee, and my life was ordained to serve him. For twenty-five years, I lived in his inner circle, struggling to fulfill my imposed role. As a disciple, I was supposed to obey and surrender to his will and follow his orders. No matter how hard I tried, Sri Chinmoy’s version of what constitutes a spiritual life, never felt right. I didn’t want to shun the world, avoiding relationships with the ‘outside.’ Eventually, after multiple attempts to follow my own path, I was banished from the guru’s ashram. Since then, I have been very cautious about believing anyone who claims to have the answers to a true spiritual life. Instead of following someone else, I lead myself.

Your favorite quote: "The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along." --- Jalal al-Din Rumi

Your favorite web sites: Everyday I read the New York Times online.

Your hero? My mother. I’m in awe of all that she has been through and all that she does. She literally is a person who never stops thinking about and helping others. She’s ceaseless in her ability to love.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? I would like to learn more patience. I’ve always been quick to plunge into irritation when a situation requires patience. Luckily, I’m getting lots of chances to practice learning patience because I have a baby daughter who is determined to take on the world in her own way.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Wherever I go with my daughter becomes an incredible place of wonder, a place of joy. Everyday, she teaches me how to be more connected to the world.

(Editors note: Jayanti is author of Cartwheels in a Sari, which you can see in our a-store below, and you can read more about her work at www.jayantitamm.com)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Christopher Pinckley, Interview #83


Name: Christopher Pinckley, cpt


Where you live: Lafayette, CA


What you do as a vocation or avocation? Author/Blogger/Spiritual Teacher

Your two favorite books: Nature of Personal Reality: Specific, Practical Techniques for Solving Everyday Problems and Enriching the Life You Know by Jane Roberts, Seth, with Robert F. Butts and How to Use the Laws of Mind by Joseph Murphy

Your two favorite songs: "In the air tonight"-Phil Collins, "1999"- Prince

Why you are interested in spirituality? It defines who I am

Your favorite quote: "You create your reality within the parameter of your beliefs"-Seth/Jane

Your favorite web sites: http://www.bradyates.net/

http://www.authorbeware.com/, http://www.bookmarket.com/

Your hero? Bruce Lee

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Non-attachment

A place in the world where you feel spiritually 'connected?' Fairfield, IA


Learn more about Christopher at:
http://www.realitycreation101.com/,




http://www.fitnowradio.com/

You can also find his blog on kindle under 'Holisticfitness4U'"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alice Grist, Interview #82


Name: Alice Grist


Where you live: England, UK - in the Middle, but was born in the North, near Manchester.


What you do as a vocation or avocation? I'm an Author and professional Tarot Card reader.


Your two favorite books: I love so, so many books it is hard to whittle it down to two. But of recent ones I have read these intrigued me for different reasons.
The Island - Aldous Huxley - a classic! Fantastic vision of a Utopian spiritual society.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt - just a darned good thriller - perfect holiday reading.


Your two favorite songs:Hey Al by Superevolver - a song written by my husband for me - as such it has to be my number 1!
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley


Why you are interested in spirituality? When I was very young my father was a Vicar at a Church of England Church, I was the vicar's daughter and thought I was famous! Following my parent's divorce Dad lost his faith somewhat and toyed with a number of alternative spiritualities. He settled on Wicca. I was a young teenager at this time and Dad involved me with some of the 'fun' aspects of Wicca such as healing, tarot, meditation and pagan picnics. As I grew older I forgot about my spiritual inclinations and got on with university and eventually setting up home with my now husband. A few years ago I was going through a dark transitional time in my life and whilst feeling lost I went for Reiki healing. This led me to spiritual development classes and a renewed interest in all things spiritual. It was during this time that I started to write about spirituality, at first for a local magazine but this eventually this led to The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment. I realized there were few spiritual books for a mainstream modern female audience, and that women were more likely to grab a 'chicklit' book. My book aims to bring spirituality to those readers. I remain interested in spirituality of all kinds and am now working on my second book.


Your favorite quote: A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge. Thomas Carlyle


Your favorite web sites: Fun and functional ones I'm afraid, You Tube, Myspace, Facebook, Google, Newspaper Websites. Also http://www.superevolver.com/


Your hero? My Mum. She doesn't realize how amazing she is. Bringing up three rowdy teenagers whilst attaining a first degree in Psychology and going on to grasp her dream career. She has also done this whilst battling against a disability caused by having polio as a child and now suffers the after effects of post-polio. Despite being tired a lot she is utterly fabulous, kind and generous. She's the best!


A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Wow, all the ones I keep failing at! It's hard to know what you aren't doing right until you fall into the same patterns time after time. I would like to clear the tendency to be critical of others when perhaps it is myself I should be being critical of. All negative thought patterns have got to go!


A place in the World where you feel spiritually connected - Kentucky USA - where all my family on Mum's side live. Also the Lake District and Wales in the UK - just beautiful. Anywhere in nature or by the sea.

Website, Amazon Link and Publisher's Website:
http://web.mac.com/alicegrist


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

madis senner, Interview #81


Name: madis senner
Where you live: Syracuse, NY
What you do as a vocation or avocation? I am dedicated to nurturing Mother Earth and understanding our dynamic relationship with her. I am keen to learn about Mother Earth and her subtle body; the various planes of existence, earth chakras, spirit lines (what some call ley lines), etc. and how they all work and how we interact with her. I also look to learn how to apply this knowledge to her, as the mystics did by focusing on their chakras or various parts of the subtle body to exponentially advance their spirituality. From this I have learned that space matters and where we meditate, pray or make sacred structures will influence our results. I am also passionately interested in learning about the structures that ancient cultures made such as stone circles or mounds to tap into Mother Earth. I educate others about this and how to gain sentience of Mother Earth. As Sri Aurobindo says our evolution is intimately connected to Mother Earth.
Your two favorite books: My two favorite books are interpretations of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga and Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar school’s Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Your two favorite songs: Amazing Grace, songs by Krishna Das.
Why you are interested in spirituality? In 1997 my life changed as I left Wall Street and I felt as if I was being called by God. In February of 1999 I accepted the call to be God’s servant. It is God’s lead that I have followed ever since, whether it was advocating for a local Muslim targeted and selectively prosecuted by the Bush Administration (Dr. Rafil Dhafir) or getting people to pray in 2002 around Onondaga Lake (Syracuse, NY where the Haudenosaunee prophet the Peacemaker planted the Tree of Peace and gave us the Great Law of Peace that would serve as the model for our constitution and democratic form of government.) It was a stretch for me at the time to think that land has special meaning or significance, but here I am and http://www.motherearthprayers.org/ is the result.
Your favorite quote: “Give with one hand, get back with two,” my mom Linda Senner.
Your favorite web sites: Bihar School’s Yoga Journal has a search menu that allows you to access their archives that contain all sorts of great information: http://www.yogamag.net/
Your hero? Jesus
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? To have the compassion and caring Jesus had to turn the other cheek and not resist even if it means your death.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" My favorite place is any of the sacred sites within Mother Earth’s soul in upstate NY; an area that has been a well spring of spirituality and social justice for the USA and the world. Where democracy, the women’s movement, America’s Second Great Awakening, the New Age movement, Spiritualism, Evangelicalism and a host of other initiatives were born.

To learn more about madis senner and Mother Earth go to: http://www.motherearthprayers.org/

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Solomohn Nallshi Ennis, Interview #80


Name: Solomohn Nallshi Ennis

Where you live: Chicago, Illinois

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I am a writer, editor, and publisher.

Your two favorite books: Faith and The Good Thing by Charles Johnson (The smartest, purest, most creative work I have ever read).
How to Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas Foster (Foster, and my professors Michael R. Molino and Kevin K. Collins ignited then waved the flames of my fiery passion for literature).

Your two favorite songs:"Lord You Have My Heart" by Delirious? (I know it is fairly new but it is one of my favorites).
"Here In The Real World" by Alan Jackson

Why you are interested in spirituality? Because I love HIM. Lord, how I love Thee. I am interested in spirituality because it is where I met God. It is the place of our connection. It is where my soul receives the Gospel and is nourished by the Bible.

Your favorite quote: "If you live this life and do not gain compassion for your brothers and sisters—you have lost something."–Minister Louis Farrakhan

Your favorite web sites:Oneplace.com,
biblegateway.com,
youtube.com,
puresexradio.com (Biblical sexual purity)

Your hero?
I have so many, but each precious one can has this characteristic: They are witnesses for the Lord.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? This is such a difficult question. What I want to learn requires pain, and I do not care for pain. However, because His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and His grace is sufficient—I have asked the Father for: wisdom, patience, discernment, Revelation knowledge, and a heart and life that is committed to the cause of Christ.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" I believe this place is in Alabama. My mother, Barbara Ennis, and my father, Solomon Heard, were born there. I always feel a cleansing, refreshing connectedness there. God has spoken to me through my parents more times and in more ways than I will ever be able to count, and when I walk the dirt roads of my parent’s old towns, I feel a completeness and a closeness that defies comprehension.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Laurie Larsen, Interview #79


Name: Laurie Larsen

Where you live: Normal, IL, USA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Systems Manager by day, fiction author by night. I spend my day job in the high tech world of computer systems. When I get home I reserve some energy and creativity for my fiction writing. My fourth book, Preacher Man, was published in January – an inspirational romance about a woman recovering from a difficult divorce who falls in love with a minister – something she never pictured for her life since religion wasn’t a regular part of her upbringing. It’s a powerful story about forgiving yourself for the mistakes in your life, so you can open up to the redeeming forgiveness of God.

Your two favorite books: It’d be easier for me to name two of my favorite authors, rather than narrow it down to actual books. The southern author Pat Conroy writes my favorite books in the world – so rich and emotional and full of beautiful language. And I’d have to say J.K. Rowling is my second favorite, for the sheer inventiveness, creativity and magic of the world she built.

Your two favorite songs: Again, artists, not songs. Billy Joel’s probably my all-time favorite musician, followed closely by Elton John.

Why you are interested in spirituality? The whole idea of a greater being, a heavenly Father who created us, helps us and loves us, has always intrigued me. Day to day life can be tough, and I’m grateful that we have help and guidance from someone much bigger and more knowledgeable than ourselves to get us through.

Your favorite quote:
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Your favorite web sites: Well, my own, of course! http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/ – this is where I promote my own books, as well as keep an active journal on the writing life. I have a constant book giveaway contest, photo albums and other fun stuff.

Also a great resource for romance writers, in particular, but all writers in general: http://www.passionatepen.com/ . I refer to it often.

And a blog I’m occasionally a guest on: http://twrpclimbingrose.blogspot.com/ It’s a blog for teens who love to read. My next book, coming out in July is a Young Adult novel, The Chronicles of Casey V. This is the blog for authors of my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.

Your hero? My hero has always been, and continues to be my mom, Carol Parlette. She is a loving and kind soul, and seeks to do good in the world. She’s fun, she’s generous, she’s selfless. She’s a wonderful role model, not only as a mother, but as a woman, a Christian, and a friend.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Patience with others, especially when they do the opposite of what I’d do!

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" I feel most spiritually connected when I’m surrounded by music. I love instruments and vocals that make my heart soar with the beauty of the lyrics and melody.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Linda Eve Diamond, Interview #78


Name: Linda Eve Diamond

Where you live: Dania Beach, FL, USA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I'm the author of several books in the areas of self-help, business, education and poetry. My poetry book is called The Human Experience and my latest book, Rule #1: Stop Talking, is a fun, self-help guide to listening that offers practical advice and a spiritual thread. Beyond writing, I give talks and listening skills seminars and poetry readings.

Your two favorite books: One of my favorite little story collections is called Einstein’s Dreams, and Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince will forever be in my heart.

Your two favorite songs: Two of my favorites are “Everybody Knows” and "Dance Me to the End of Love" by Leonard Cohen.

Why you are interested in spirituality? I believe that what is essential is what we explore beneath the surface and that if we live on the surface we barely live at all.

Your favorite quote: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." EB White

Your favorite web sites:
A Children’s International Sponsorship Website:

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): http://www.peta.org/

Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/

FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting): http://www.fair.org/index.php

Your hero? My dad, Michael Diamond, whose work can be found at http://domesticviolenceclause.org/

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? I think that we can create our worlds but that creativity is stifled and directed by fear and a tendency to react instead of create. I make a practice of careful inner listening, but it's a process. (Being human is a constant restriction to achieving perfection!) But I do move along—perfectly imperfect—in the right direction, and I hope to continually become more creative and less reactive.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" I can feel connected in lots of places, but deeply in Sedona, AZ, and pretty much anyplace where mountains are.

Websites:


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jean Russell, Interview #77



Name: Jean Russell

Where you live: Chicago, IL, USA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Advocate for thrivability by nurturing change agents

Your two favorite books: very hard to say, but I have grown a ton from The Four Agreements and Tolle's New Earth

Your two favorite songs: hmm, again, hard to say in general.


Why you are interested in spirituality? because nothing in the world feels so clear to me as being an experiencer of the world evolving itself, which has brought me tremendous serenity.

Your favorite quote: Lately, it is "Act always as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference." -- Buddhabut it changes every season depending on where I am.

Your favorite web sites: wikis, blogs, and microblogs - community spaces of the long tail.

Your hero? So many! Depends in which domain you mean, for example: The grain of sand which has been so transformed over so much time. Gandhi. Many of my friends. Tracy Gary. My own highest self.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to recognize the spiritually radiant, so I can learn from those who are so open to learning.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" I feel most spiritually connected when I have a sense of spaciousness and reflection. For me this often happens in transit - on planes, trains, and cars! But it is also acute when immersed in a tranquil state of nature - from mountains to dessert to forests and plains.

I uploaded a picture of a waterfall that I took while in Oregon. I twitter as @nurturegirl, blog at nurturegirl.net as well as thrivable.org, and my website is nurture.biz

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Becky Garrison, Interview #76


Name: Becky Garrison

Where you live: New York, NY

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Religious satirist

Your two favorite books: I can't narrow down my library to just two favorites. The Bible is the one book I "try" to read every day.

Your two favorite songs: That's a sheer impossibility - lately, I've been chilling to the musical gifts offered by the artists collective Proost UK (http://www.proost.co.uk/)

Why you are interested in spirituality? I always find myself getting so busy that my prayer life keeps falling into the theological toilet once again. Whenever I get too disconnected from God, I always end up with this religious rash as though I'm suffering from some devotional disease. I end up walking around bowlegged like I have a case of the spiritual rickets. Reconnecting through God through prayer, ritual or even just a solitary walk in the woods helps me to start walking along this admitted crooked path. I'll never have all the answers but the more I talk with God, I learn to start asking the right questions.

Your favorite quote: "Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God."-Lenny Bruce

Your favorite web sites: Here's a few sites that help me think, laugh and love ...
The Jesus Manifesto http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/
Jonny Baker http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/
Naked Pastor http://www.nakedpastor.com/
The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus http://asbojesus.wordpress.com/
The Revealer http://www.therevealer.org/
Tall Skinny Kiwi http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/
Wittenburg Door http://www.wittenburgdoor.com/ (Yes, we're on extended hiatus but like Arnold, we'll be back).

Your hero? Mary Magdalene - Even though the disciples dismissed her firsthand account of Jesus as nonsense, she stuck to her guns. (See Luke 24:11) Their initial lack of respect for her demonstrates how women were perceived in first century Judea. You'd have to be one gutsy gal to go against the cultural milieu of the times. BTW-I'm going to go medieval on anyone, who dared to call Mary Magdalene a prostitute.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Righteous anger, which is one of the best weapons in the satirist's arsenal, can eat me alive if I'm not careful. Jesus must look at some of my moves and shake his head. But then he takes me in his arms and loves me. Why can't I do likewise to those who let me down? As much as I want to be the humble tax collector, I often come off as the self-righteous judgmental Pharisee. (SeeLuke 18:9-14) Time after time, I fail to put the Greatest Commandment into practice. I hate when I get in the way.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" While I attend a number of alternative worship/emerging services, it is on the water where I truly worship. I really seem to connect to God when I'm seeped in her handiwork albeit through fly-fishing, kayaking, or walking on the beach.

http://www.beckygarrison.com/

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sharon M. Jones, Interview #75


Name: Sharon M. Jones

Where you live: Hayward, California

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I wear a few hats. Primarily I am a mother, wife, Nonfiction Author, Gospel Recording Artist, Inspirational Motivational Speaker, Evangelist, teacher, preacher and multi-level Leader in my church on a local, district and state level. To sum it all up, I use my voice to empower and inspire people.

Your two favorite books: She Found It In The Clouds, The Holy Bible - King James Version

Your two favorite songs: "Believe in Miracles" and "Hope Song"

Why you are interested in spirituality? I am interested in spirituality because spirituality is my foundation and a major part of who I am as a human being. Spirituality is within me and dictates my day to day movements, thoughts, goals, accomplishments and purpose.

Your favorite quote: "All things are possible, if I can only believe"

Your favorite web sites:
http://www.juliabettencourt.com/
Authorsden.com
Taxi.com
SafeplaceMinistries.com
Your hero? my father, Dr. J. A. Williams

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Because my life has been Divinely ordained, I have a responsibility to God and to myself to be the best human being I can be, and to strive to reach my maximum potential, simply because I impact people on a day to day basis either positively or negatively.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Jamaica, West Indies, and my back yard

http://www.sharonmjones.net/

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chintamani Yogi, Interview #74

Name: Chintamani Yogi

Where you live: Nepal
What you do as a vocation or avocation? teaching and social work
Your two favorite books: Geeta and books of Swami Vivekananda.

Your two favorite songs: 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram'(it's composed by Gandhi) and 'Nam Shivaya...

Why you are interested in spirituality? because it gives ultimate satisfaction to our life; spirituality makes us closer to our own heart and gives completeness to our life. Similarly, it's the only way to save humanity and enjoy the life.

Your favorite quote:
"Arise, Awake, Stop not,till the goal is reached" (from Upanishad)

Your favorite web sites: many... ones which work for value based education, peace, and spirituality and serving poorest people

Your hero?
Mahatma Gandhi, The Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Yogananda, Martin Luther King.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? serving humanity through spirituality...

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"

when I see children I feel more connected with spirituality and when I see poor people crying then I feel I'm there with them; similarly, when I see open sky, shining stars, smiling moon then I feel more connected with spirituality...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Leo Kim, Interview #73


Name: Leo Kim

Where you live: Carlsbad, CA (north San Diego county)

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I read novels and scientific articles/books as well as exercise such as weight lifting.

Your two favorite books: The Hard Way by Lee Child and In Defense of Foods: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Your two favorite songs: Music of the Night (Andrew Lloyd Webber) and Bridge over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkel

Why you are interested in spirituality? Definitely, it is the focus and message of my book, Healing the Rift

Your favorite quote:

"There is no difficulty that enough love will not
conquer, no disease that enough love will not heal, no
door that enough love will not open, no gulf that
enough love will not bridge, no wall that enough love
will not throw down, no sin that enough love will not
redeem… A sufficient realization of love will dissolve
it all. If only you could love enough you would be the
happiest and most powerful person in the world…" --Emmet Fox

Your favorite web sites: BBSradio.com and healthylife.net

Your hero? Any one who can turn negatives into positives, anyone who cherishes life and spirit, anyone who can heal rifts.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Improved modalities in which I can communicate spirituality to the non-spiritual


A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" That place in my mind (not brain) where I turn off the noise of everyday chatter and trivia and which connects me to my spiritual self.

Author of Healing the Rift: Bridging the Gap Between Science & Spirituality http://healingtheriftbook.com/

Radio Show Host: The Leo Kim Show HealthLife.net Radio Network
http://www.healthylife.net/RadioShow/archiveLK.htm

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Steffan Postaer, Interview #72


Name: Steffan Postaer

Where you live: Chicago, Ill

What you do as a vocation or avocation? A copywriter by trade, and now the Chief Creative Officer of a large advertising agency, my avocation is (still) writing. Right now I am completely captivated by keeping my blog, The Gods of Advertising. Here, I discuss trying to "do the right thing" in a business so often predicated on doing otherwise. The theme for my blog: We make you want what you don’t need. What’s fascinating and, in turn, scary about advertising is that we play fast and loose with most of the seven deadly sins: lust, greed, envy, sloth and so on. How then can we stay on a spiritual path? This paradox is at the heart of my writing.

Your two favorite books: Of recent memory, two books stand out: "Revolutionary Road" and "Saturday."

Your two favorite songs: Most anything by U2, whose music is all about searching for a higher power: "Where the Streets have no Name" and "Original of the Species" stand out.

Why you are interested in spirituality? As stated above, I am trying to do the right thing in a business –a world, really- where doing otherwise is valued. I am also a recovering alcoholic, and spirituality is a cornerstone to staying sober. They say we have a thinking problem as much as a drinking problem. Only a higher power can restore us to sanity.

Your favorite quote: In order to win you have to learn to surrender –a paraphrase of AA axiom.
Your favorite web sites: I go to Amazon more than any other. Alas, I also spend a great deal of time on various trade blogs, some of them unsavory.

Your hero? Bono. How he stays true to his God surrounded by temptation is a miracle.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? To give up self-seeking.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" When I’m in the 3rd mile of my morning run.
To see Steffan's blog & web site please see: http://godsofadvertising.wordpress.com/ and

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Diana Spechler, Interview #71


Name: Diana Spechler

Where you live: New York City

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I'm a writer. My debut novel is called Who By Fire. Your two favorite books: It depends on the day! Right now I'm a big fan of Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates and Mystery Ride by Robert Boswell.

Your two favorite songs: Abandoned Love by Bob Dylan and Brokedown Palace by The Grateful Dead

Why you are interested in spirituality? I'm interested in people. People's religious and spiritual decisions are so character-revealing!

Your favorite quote: "It is a night when kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." It's the last line of a John Cheever story called The Country Husband.

Your favorite website: http://www.postsecret.com/

Your hero? I'm not sure I have a hero. I'm accepting applications.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? I'd like to learn more about finding balance in life.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Sometimes in Jerusalem, sometimes not.



Please become my fan on Facebook!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mary Kenagy Mitchell, Interview #70


Name: Mary Kenagy Mitchell

Where you live: Seattle, Washington

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I'm the managing editor if Image (http://www.imagejournal.org/), a journal of art and faith.

Your two favorite books: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. And Great Expectations. And anything by Alice Munro.

Your two favorite songs: "Tower of Song" by Leonard Cohen and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"
Why you are interested in spirituality? I don't think I could survive without God extending grace to me everyday.
Your favorite quote: "How wrong Emily Dickinson was! Hope is not 'the thing with feathers.' The thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew. I must take him to see a specialist in Zurich." --Woody Allen
Your favorite web sites:



Your hero? Marilynne Robinson

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Patience and humility

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" At mass, anywhere in the world, in the grandest cathedral or dumpiest suburban church: that's what I love about mass, that it can be anywhere.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eileen Malone, Interview #69



Name: Eileen Malone
Where you live: In the coastal fog at the edge of San Francisco Bay.
What you do as a vocation or avocation? Teacher. Writer. TV interview show Host/Producer. Literary Competition Founder/Director. Mental Health Activist.
Your two favorite books?
National Velvet
by Enid Bagnold which I loved as a little girl and still love today and almost any books containing the collected and/or selected works of living poets.
Your two favorite songs?
What comes to mind right now is “The White Cliffs of Dover” which always touches me deeply, makes me teary eyed and “I Am What I Am” which makes me want to sing along dancing around the room.
I love (!!) sound tracks from movies, the full orchestra thrumming and mood-making symphonies, like that of Harry Potter, House of Spirits, Ryan’s Daughter. Especially love the score from the original Star Wars and Black Hole.

Why are you interested in spirituality?Everyone is spiritual in their own way, calling it different things and manifesting it different ways. We can’t always define it, recognize it or avoid it ,so might as well open up and embrace it, whatever it is.

Your favorite quote?“When in doubt, choose to do the kind thing.” Don’t know where it came from but right now it’s my slogan.

Your favorite web sites?Of course, http://www.soulmakingcontest.us/ because it represents a personal project that means a lot to me. Also, because I made and maintain the website myself and if you knew how low-tech I am, you would see what a miracle that is.
Also, http://www.nami.org/ which is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a very important and vital source for those dealing with mental illness of their own and/or those they love and care about. The more informed we all become, the less stigma and fear. There is a community. There is support.
And http://www.youtube.com/ for just about all their teaching/tutoring videos. Excellent!

Your hero?
Don’t believe in heroes or superstars or saints. Believe we all at some point perform such acts but wouldn’t want to label any human being, alive or dead, with such an impossible reputation to maintain. But I do honor those who give back to the greater flow from which we all derive.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
Don’t know that I could name specifically any spiritual lesson I hope to learn, but do know that I love to learn. And the lessons are everywhere if I just open to them.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Edges. Places where the land meets the sea, the mountain meets the valley, the forest the lake, edges of places, beaches, cliffs, peninsulas, estuaries. Yes, edges.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shirley Paulson, Interview #68


Name: Shirley Paulson

Where you live: Glenview, Illinois (near Chicago)

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am in the healing ministry of Christian Science practice. It's hard to say whether it's a vocation or avocation, because I love it passionately. I also give talks all around the country, explaining Christian Science in university classrooms or churches, because so many people misunderstand it.

Your two favorite books:
The Bible
is always #1 for me, but does that count? As a companion to the Bible, I love Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. If I could mention one more, it would be The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Disciple, by Karen L. King.

Your two favorite songs:
Something Wonderful, from The King and I; Touch of the Master's Hand, by Mindy Jostyn

Why you are interested in spirituality?
Some people confuse my spiritual thinking with gnosticism. But from what I understand of gnosticism, it implies a life apart from here and now. However, I think of all things of God's kingdom as spiritual, and they're relevant, real, and powerful here and now. Finding the spiritual substance and meaning of things, I can trust God's present control and goodness. That's the very foundation of my healing practice, and it brings not only physical well-being but moral strength and life purpose into view. Some healing I've experienced for myself include infection, arthritis, and probable fracture, to name a few. And with those physical healings came more spiritual maturity and grace. I want to bring this kind of spiritual awareness and joy to everyone who wants to hear of it. It's not religious proselytizing, but compassion. It's hope for the oppressed and freedom from suffering.

Your favorite quote:
Jesus: "You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment." And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Your favorite web sites:
csmonitor.com; wikipedia; facebook; youtube; and if I may, a little plug for my own website - spiritualityandchristianity.com

Your hero?
Since I think so much about the human mission and work of Jesus, I think of him as my hero -- the one I want to follow and learn from. That's why his quotes are my favorite.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
I want the spiritual wisdom and courage to detect the subtle arguments of evil that present themselves as my own thinking. Treating others as I don't want them to treat me, for example; or blaming, doubting, fearing, when I should have confidence; and on the other hand, being naive when I ought to be wary -- these are the things I want to detect before they govern me. With genuine repentance, I trust I can find the freedom to love generously, wisely, and honestly.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
The issue for me is not so much "where" as "when." So the answer is, wherever I am when I first awaken in the morning. My first thoughts are looking for God. Before the phone rings or others make demands on my time, I want to listen and love God and stay there until God is finished talking with me.

I blog occasionally on christianscience.com and TMCYouth.com.

Most of my work is on my own website, spiritualityandchristianity.com

Friday, January 23, 2009

David E. Nelson, Interview #67


Name: David E. Nelson D.Min.

Where you live: Kansas City, MO

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Appreciative Inquiry Coach. I partner with people in different situations and from different religious and spiritual traditions discovering and nurturing what is best in them.

Your two favorite books: Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All; Eboo Patel, Acts of Faith

Your two favorite songs: "Wild World (Yusuf's Café)" Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens); "Imagine" John Lennon
Why you are interested in spirituality?

1. Because I am curious.

2. Because it is life changing.

3. Because it is liberating.

4. Because it is necessary.

5. Because it is so much fun. (If you want a longer expression of this visit our CRES Newsletter at http://www.cres.org/pubs/mp0803.pdf page 9
Your favorite quote: "It is never too late to have a wonderful childhood."

Your favorite web sites: Bill Tammeus Blog at http://billtammeus.typepad.com/my_weblog/; http://www.cres.org/;
Your hero? "Curly" who after 18 Winters was given his father's name "Crazy Horse," the greatest American warrior

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Where I can be more compassionate to my sisters and brothers in the Human Family.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" My LoftNest inside, my Zen Deck outside, and my hammock.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ashley Jonathan Clements, Interview #66


Name: Ashley Jonathan Clements

Where you live: Melbourne, Australia

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I work on advocacy in humanitarian emergencies for World Vision. I'm part of a team called the Global Rapid Response Team - a group of people on permanent standby who get deployed in the early days of a natural disaster or man-made emergency. My job is about identifying the main problems that affect people - particularly children - during an emergnecy, and convincing the right groups to take action to address these issues. Sometimes it's governments, sometimes it's political groups, and sometimes it's communities themselves who need to make changes.

Your two favorite books: Andre Brink's An Instant in the Wind - a beautiful book about love, fear and prejudice set against the backdrop of South Africa's harsh wilderness - and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls - a book of strength and conviction, and a total belief in a cause for which one is willing to give everything.

Your two favorite songs:

Nina Simone, Sinner Man

Counting Crows, Mr. Jones

Why you are interested in spirituality? Spirituality, rather than religion, I see as forming a vast and largely misunderstood realm in our world. Many of us accept the teaching that the world is rational and explained and explainable by science and logic; but it simply isn't. For many of us, spirituality is our most immediate and tangible channel into a neglected element of our world that governs emotions, morality, belief, and relationships. Spirituality is integral to my beliefs, my motivation, and gives me the moral compass that I rely on for my work and personal life. Your favorite quote: "An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all" Oscar Wilde

Your favorite sites: flickr.com - as an enthusiastic photographer, flickr never fails to offer me inspiration

lifehacker.com - top tips for daily life for everything from technology to traveling to getting things done efficiently.

Your hero? Woodrow Wilson - perhaps the single most influential figure in establishing the League of Nations, which continues today as the United Nations. Severely flawed and at times wholly ineffective, for me the UN is the physical manifestation of mankind's recognition of meaning, morality, and a sense of right and wrong.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Forgiveness - how to, when to.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" The souks of Marrakech - most people I imagine would choose an isolated vista. But for me, the souks - Arab market place - of Morocco's ancient city of Marrakech are so full of life, history, ugliness and beauty that one cannot fail but to marvel in them.


twitter account: ashclem

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rodney Curtis, Interview #65


Name: Rodney Curtis
Where you live: Troy, Michigan, USA, Earth
What you do as a vocation or avocation? I am a photo editor by day. But by night, I am not at liberty to discuss my crime-fighting alter ego.
Your two favorite books: Illusions by Richard Bach and the entire compendium of Tom Robbins' books.
Your two favorite songs: Pride, (In the Name of Love), by U2. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, by The Police
Why you are interested in spirituality? It's an attempt to make sense of what's really going on in the world. My WASP upbringing was pleasant and social but it didn't get to the heart of my questions:
1. What in the world are we doing here?
2. Is there a true, overarching deity and what's his or her cell number?
3. After we die do we continue on in some form, or cease to exist?
4. Why were there two Darrins on Bewitched?
5. Does any of this really matter?
Your favorite quote: "Rodney, you're an author!" by one of my publishers, John Hile, when he successfully uploaded my book to Amazon.
Your favorite web sites: YouTube, obviously. RottenTomatoes for the consensus movie reviews. Facebook because it's a new experiment in community building. CNN especially during political season. And of course I've got to plug my own site http://www.spiritualwanderer.info/
Your hero? My mom because she's put up with me for 45 years without wincing and because of the way she treats people. She has been my greatest teacher and sage.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Nothing less than the meaning of life. I know it's shooting for the moon, but why settle for anything less?
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" The Lake Michigan shoreline. The California coast. A very solemn genocide grave in Yerevan even though I have absolutely no Armenian blood coursing through my veins.

You can find out more about me at http://www.rodneycurtis.com/

Thursday, January 8, 2009

David Crumm, Interview #64


Name: David Crumm

Where you live: Near Ann Arbor, Michigan

What you do as a vocation or avocation? My vocation is spiritual connection. I'm a lifelong writer who devoted 30-plus years to journalism and scholarship with a specialty in writing about religion. Through many years and many travels around the world, I have seen how vital, creative and hopeful faith can be at its best. I'm devoting my life now to making spiritual connections with the help of emerging forms of media.

Your two favorite books: Collected Poems of Robert Frost, who understood both the depths and the heights of the human spirit better than most. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, who also explored those depths and heights.
Your two favorite songs:"Be Thou My Vision," a hymn. "Simple Gifts," a Shaker hymn and widely reproduced melody.
Why you are interested in spirituality? The three greatest spiritual questions of our time flow through each day. They are:
Why should I climb out of bed today?
How can I make it through another stressful day?
At the end of the day, what truly mattered?
These are echoes of the timeless questions, voiced by Tolstoy and so many others in their search for meaning, for compassion and for peace: Why are we here? How shall we live? What is the resonance of good and evil in the world? Spirituality is as close as the next breath we take. How can we not be interested?
Your favorite quote: Robert Frost's "The Pasture," which opens with these words ...
"I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too."
It's the first poem I memorized at home as a boy of 9. At the University of Michigan in the 1970s, I studied this poem with Joseph Brodsky, who eventually won the Nobel Prize in literature. Brodsky assigned me to study the poem in parallel with the ancient Psalm 90. This Frost poem is oh so simple and yet it embodies responses to all those spiritual questions I raised a moment ago.
Your favorite web sites:

Your hero? Frederick Buechner — brave, brilliant and eloquent writer on spirituality, who came from a traumatized home and yet soared in circles of literature and spiritual reflection. I have had the privilege of interviewing him a number of times over the years, but it really is through his books that he felt like a wise uncle to me and to thousands of others over many years.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to help people see the world more clearly in an era when popular culture passes, so often, for the illusion of clarity.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"So many places. I feel as though Scotland and the isle of Iona is a second spiritual home to me. Walking the streets of Rome humbles me. I feel at home in the streets of old Jerusalem, but also I am drawn to Asia, where I feel connected to Indonesia, China, Thailand and Singapore.