O faithful blog readers,
As I contemplated my trip and wondered what I would do with the blog during that time, I mused on the concept of guest blogging and reader contribution. In so doing, I came up with an idea…
Guest Letters to Josep
The purpose of the letters on this blog is to share my experiences and knowledge of my culture, faith, and country. Now I turn to you and ask you to share with us. I would love to take submissions from people from all kinds of cultures, faiths, and locations. The Talmud says, “Who is wise? He who learns from every person.” Every single person has something to teach us and something new to bring to the conversation, and that includes you! (Yes, even if you are an observant Jewish American-Israeli like me or a non-practicing Catholic Catalan like Josep! 😉 )
The more people know about this, the more variety we will achieve and the more fascinating things we will learn–and the more different kinds of people the knowledge will reach! Therefore I encourage you to share this post with other people (and communities and groups) you know who might be interested in sharing or reading about religion and culture.
How It Works
I’ve created a submission form that you can access from the menu at the top of the page (or click here). Anyone can use that link to submit a letter at any time. Or, just e-mail it to me at letterstojosep[at]gmail[dot]com. Obviously, I reserve the right to decide whether to post a letter and when. I will be in touch with you if I decide to post your letter.
I am also planning to make “calls for submissions” about certain topics, hoping to gather a bunch of shortish letters on the same topic from different points of view. These will be announced separately.
What Should I Write About?
First, tell us about yourself. Where ya from? What’s your story? What’s your connection with the blog? The more you make your letter personal and really from you, the more engaging it will be.
Then, you can introduce us to a topic or idea from your faith, culture, or country that you particularly connect to. Write as if you are writing to someone who knows nothing about it, even if you think that Josep or the other readers might know. That means you’ll want to define your basic concepts and terms for us.
Not sure what to write about? At the bottom of this post, there are some prompt questions to get your gears turning.
Guest Letter Guidelines
1) Letters to Josep began as a correspondence between two friends from very different cultures and backgrounds. That friendship would not have existed without mutual respect, tolerance, compassion, and friendly curiosity, and those are the foundations on which this blog was built. Guest letters must reflect this atmosphere. I will not post anything intolerant, disrespectful, or hateful towards any group or individual.
2) Submissions should be in the form of a letter addressed to Josep, written in first person. If someone randomly linked you here and you have not read anything else on the blog (in that case, hi!), read some previous entries to get a feel for the tone. (Here are some good examples of typical letters to Josep: “An Introduction to the World’s Biggest Book Club“, “Shabbat: A Sacred Space in Time“, “Circumcision. Wait! Don’t Run Away Screaming!“)
3) My letters tend to be long and rambling. This is not a requirement! 😉 You can make your letter as long or as short as you like, but try to stay under 3,000 words.
4) The letters must be in intelligible English. I reserve the right to correct spelling and grammar for clarity’s sake, but I will not make any changes to the content of your letter without your explicit permission.
5) You may post under your own name or anonymously. If you have a blog or website, I will be happy to provide a link to it alongside your name. If you’d like to post anonymously, choose a pseudonym or initial.
6) If you’d like to include pictures with your entry, you can indicate this on the submission form (there’s a checkbox) and I will contact you by e-mail so you can send me the pictures (and feel free to tell me if you’d like to add captions. Those are the best part 😛 ). Or, again, just e-mail the whole thing to me at letterstojosep[at]gmail[dot]com. Remember to observe copyright law. I cannot post a picture that does not belong to you or that has not been explicitly marked as public domain.
7) Now, about that elephant. Generally speaking, this is not a political blog. It is no secret that I am pro-Israel; I live in Judea, a fact that may in and of itself be offensive to some. While I may touch on political issues here and there, I reserve my political discussions with Josep for our private correspondence. Politics sometimes tie in to religious and cultural issues, so it’s not a taboo topic, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus of your letter.
Can I Submit More than One?
Sure, go for it! If you’d like to discuss multiple topics, better to split it up into separate letters than to write one long letter about a few different things.
What if I Don’t Have a Letter, But I Have a Question?
Send it on over! I may answer it myself, or I may pose it to the readers to get submissions for guest letters.
Prompt Questions to Get You Started…
You can use these questions to help you come up with a topic for your letter.
1) How do you define yourself religiously, and what does that definition mean to you?
2) Select a favorite holiday and tell us about it. Why is it celebrated? How is it celebrated in your family/culture? How do your customs differ from those of others celebrating the same holiday in other cultures?
3) Select a custom in your religion or culture that you particularly enjoy and describe it for us. What is the purpose of the custom? What is its history?
4) Select an object that has special meaning in your faith and/or culture and tell us about it. How is it used? What does it symbolize? Send a picture of the one you use!
5) Do you have a different perspective on one of my previous letters to Josep? Share it with us, and be sure to include the link to the original so we know what you’re referring to.
6) How does your religion view other religions? (Don’t forget Rule #1! 😉 )
7) Tell us about a friendship or encounter you had with someone from a different faith or culture that was particularly meaningful to you.
Ready, Set, Write!
One of the things I love about writing letters to Josep is that it helps me deepen my own understanding of and connection to my faith, my people, and my country. I hope that you will find that the same is true for you once you get started!