October 25, 2018

Dear Colleagues,
Every two years (and sometimes at dates in between), America's democracy gets a change to reshape and reinvigorate itself. These moments are called elections, and a very important one is coming up on November 6. In the Midterm Elections, Americans will select all the representatives in the House, one-third of the Senate, governors in 36 states and three territories, plus countless judges and local officials. 

With these elections in mind, we've been working on ways to bring spiritual practices into democratic life. Voting itself is a practice. So is affirming the values and virtues of democratic life through rituals -- as we've done with a Voting Ritual and a Citizenship Vow. As always, we encourage you to freely use these resources and the others highlighted in this update.

Salaam, Shalom, Shanti, Peace,

The Practicing Democracy Project Team

Voting as a Spiritual Practice
by Mary Ann Brussat
How is voting a spiritual practice? It asks you to identify what is important to you, connects you with your neighbors to consider programs and policies affecting you all, and encourages you to consider the larger whole of which you are a part.  
Voting Ritual
by Hannah Arin
This voting ritual, designed for group or individual use, sets a strong intention to benefit all those whom your vote will affect: those whose voices are not heard, those you love, the bridge builders, the leaders, and your own many facets. When you lead this ritual with a group, you may want someone to introduce it along the lines of this call to remember that we are never alone.  

In spiritual and community circles, it is common for people to make vows expressing their aspirations, commitments, and intentions. Here's an opportunity to make your own Citizenship Vow by choosing three values, three virtues, and three spiritual practices from a chart offering an array of ideas about what's important in a democracy. 

Would you like to work with The Center for Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute in a wide-ranging effort to help shape America's democracy for the common good of all -- or do you know someone else who would? Three fellows will be chosen to work with the  Practicing Democracy Project during 2019. Read more and apply here:

"When you stop chasing more of what you don't need," observes global visionary Lynne Twist, "you free up tremendous energy to do more with what you have, and what you have grows."  We have a long way to go to reverse the commodification of life, but as with all great challenges, we can begin with simple antidotes that reinforce generosity, gratitude, service to others, and a joy that's based in being, not in having.  
We the People Book Club
A Discussion Group and Practice Circle
September 2018 - August 2019

"What we lost when she died is bitter. What we have is astonishing: the stories burn brighter than ever, and strike deeper." These word of Walter Clemons describe the writings of Flannery O'Connor, whose shrewd wisdom from the southern United States speaks profoundly to what works and what doesn't in building democracy. Please join us (if you haven't already) as we start her short-story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories on Monday, November 5.To join the online discussion and receive weekly emails, go here: 

You can also download Reading Guides to the previous book club selections, The Grapes of Wrath and The Underground Railroad, from that page. 

Five recently added Practicing Democracy selections in our Naming the Days section explore the meaning of our days through rituals, readings, and spiritual practices:
American Chaos
directed by James D. Stern: Interviews with Trump supporters in the 2016 Presidential campaign that prove passion beats pragmatism.  
Dark Money
directed by Kimberly Reed: An expose of how political campaigns are being funded with little or no disclosure of where the money is coming from.
Fahrenheit 11/9
directed by Michael Moore: A powerful, even frightening, documentary on what's happening to America's democracy.  

by Eric Klinenberg: A masterwork on how places and spiritual spaces are resurrecting democracy.   
Presidents of War
by Michael Beschloss: An enlightening look at presidential power in military history from 1907 to modern times. 

Read and Riot
by Nadya Tolokonnikova: An unconventional call to radical and creative activism.

The Silenced Majority
by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: A testament to the good fight for democracy that happens every day.  
The Splintering of the American Mind
by William Egginton: An treatise on why the cultural wars of the past are coming to campuses once again.  

by David Frye: An engrossing account of the influence of walls mixing history, military might, and impermanence.  
The Practicing Democracy Project is a collaboration between The Center for Spirituality & Practice and the Fetzer Institute. Seek more at PracticingDemocracy.net