We think it’s a rather sorry state of affairs when a large majority of Americans now think their country is off on the wrong foot. According to the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls, the percentage of Americans sharing the opinion of ‘Wrong Track’ versus ‘Right Direction’ is a miserable 65%. Ironically, one of the things people are in agreement on is how much disagreement we have, as a nation and as a people. Fortunately, there are a few bright spots.

Occasionally I feel like I may have read most of the Internet. And, while that is admittedly an activity that can quickly eat all of the numbers off of your clock, you can find some nuggets of info that are worth your time. Such an example is in the Deseret News, a publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing some of an article with you. You’ll see that it is a timely piece.

That Easter, Passover and Ramadan — major holidays in the three Abrahamic faiths — converge this year hasn’t been lost on the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.

Across the nation, there’s a wealth of interfaith events to attend in honor of the overlap, from virtual gatherings, to in-person Ramadan fast-breaking meals, or iftars, hosted by mosques and churches, to panel discussions at colleges and universities. But, of the many events taking place this month, the most unique might be Chicago’s interfaith trolley ride.

When the project was conceived, organizers planned for only one trolley with 25 passengers. But the initiative — which is a joint effort of the American Islamic College, the Chicago Theological Seminary, the Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at the Lutheran School of Theology, Hyde Park Kenwood Interfaith Council and the Parliament of the World’s Religions — attracted so much interest that organizers had to book a trolley for 40. 

And then they had to arrange for a second trolley, said organizer Kim Schultz, the coordinator of creative initiatives at the Chicago Theological Seminary’s InterReligious Institute. 

She noted that the trip was organized in part to mark this year’s rare convergence of so many religious holidays. The last time so many of the world’s holidays aligned in the same month was 1991, Schultz said.

Organizers were looking to do something that would “go past sharing a plate of hummus,” she said. “We’re living in a time where it’s not just about learning but it’s about, ‘How can I support (other communities)?’” She and the other organizers hope participants will walk away from the trolley with the ability to “embrace and live with our religious and cultural diversity.”

“I hope we can sit on a trolley together and realize we have much more in common than we don’t and maybe that will make someone think differently or act differently the next time they encounter someone who looks different and acts differently or loves differently or prays differently than they do,” Schultz said.

The impact of such initiatives can reverberate far beyond the lives of those who participate, Schultz added, explaining that those who ride the trolley could potentially explain what they learned on the tour to someone who would never sign up for such an event. “And that’s how change is created right?” she said.  

Not only do holidays overlap this year but religious texts do, as well. A virtual community iftar hosted by NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change kicked off with a note that the Quran portion Muslims would read that night corresponds with part of the Haggadah, the story Jews read on Passover.

 I hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I did. A key point for me is the reference to ‘diversity’. That’s a word that gets tossed around way too much these days. I say ‘too much’ because the word tossers don’t really mean diversity — what they are preaching is separatism, not togetherness. They too often demand tolerance but fail to offer it.

Happy Easter! Chag Sameach! Ramadan Mubarak! Enjoy your holidays and your fellow Americans.

Ron’s Market Minute — Are the Stars Aligned?

Yes, it’s true that I tend to repeat myself, and I found myself repeating (this week) an optimistic platitude. First, I’ve said that markets will be ok UNTIL you wake up some morning and find the media all trumpeting the expectation that EVERYTHING is great (or even perfect!) in the world of investments and markets. When that happens it’s time to run for the hills. The general media almost always gets it wrong.

So, THIS week I’ve seen various headlines –

One website that tracks bulls and bear shows the most bears since 1992,

JPM says look for a gloomy year in markets,

B of A says look for a recession sooner rather than later,

Inflation hits a 40-year high.

You get the picture: all is doom and gloom, so it may well be a time to be optimistic about markets!

Let me add this for your thoughts –

On Wednesday in the face of 11.2% inflation (producer level) stocks jumped more than 1% and long-term interest rates fell by 0.04%. These are counterintuitive to what the masses THINK should have happened. 

With all the negative news, think about this: Perhaps the stars are aligning. This may be an early sign that markets have grown comfortable with the inflation numbers, and do NOT see them increasing from here. Guess we’ll see. 

Remember the deadline for 2021 IRA, SEP, ROTH, and HSA contributions is Monday!

And have a good weekend. 

Ronald P. Denk, CFP®
Investment Advisor
Denk Strategic Wealth Partners
10000 N. 31st Avenue, Suite D406A
Phoenix, AZ 85051
Phone (602) 252-8700
Fax (602) 252-8701
Toll-Free (877) The-Denk
www.denkinvest.com

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