Behind the Plymouth 400 story: Summoning Thanksgiving in the midst of a deadly epidemic

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Devastation plagued both Indians and Pilgrims

Giving thanks even in the midst of sorrow

Thanksgiving in 2020 will undoubtedly look different, but that doesn’t mean Americans won’t still be counting our blessings. After all, the tradition stretches back more than 400 years on this continent. Please read Stephanie Fenton’s Thanksgiving column about how astonishing it was that Native Americans—decimated by epidemics—and Pilgrims—also suffering deadly illness—gathered in a spirit of gratitude.

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving

Giving thanks in the midst of war

ABRAHAM LINCOLN SCHOLAR DUNCAN NEWCOMER reminds us of the other American Thanksgiving milestone that unfolded in the midst of a national crisis—the Civil War. First, here’s an 11-minute video from Duncan explaining the significance of Lincoln’s declaration of our Thanksgiving holiday.

Then, based on his many years of studying and writing about the 16th president, Duncan has developed this Thanksgiving prayer, drawn from some of Lincoln’s most enduring phrases.

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More Holidays & Festivals

2o2o Books That Make Great Gifts

More Americans Are Reading Right Now Than Ever Before

IN OUR FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING COLUMN, Susan Stitt explains why 2020 has been very busy despite the pandemic. Our books are our way of making the world a little better place. Susan Stitt looks at this year’s colorful array of books—which make perfect holiday gifts.

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St. Nicholas Day

PLAN AHEAD FOR DECEMBER 6—The white-bearded man in the red suit may travel by reindeer in the West, but on December 6, Sinterklaas, or San Nicola, arrives across Europe on horseback—for St. Nicholas Day. For European children, St. Nicholas Day brings hope of sweets, small toys and surprises. For Christian families, the excitement and gifts of St. Nicholas Day can better prepare children for focus on the Nativity on Christmas Day.

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Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! To celebrate a decade of Ed McNulty’s involvement with ReadTheSpirit magazine, we are offering a half-price annual subscription to Ed’s premium content, his Visual Parables Journal. These monthly PDF-format magazines are packed with complete discussion guides for lots of films, both current and classic. It’s great for individual reflection and small-group discussion. Clicking on this image takes you to the Visual Parables Journal page where you can scroll down to the red-colored section and learn more about this special offer, now through December 31.

FAITH & FILM 

Click this image to learn more about the November 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal.

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. FISHING WITH DYNAMITE—Ed writes, “In this documentary, director Paul Wagner clarifies for those of us who are economic dummies the murky subject of capitalism. His film explores the contentious history of American corporate culture. It explores the arguments of two influential theories—stakeholder vs shareholder capitalism. And it does so in an amusing and entertaining way.”
  2. THE BREAD WINNER—”Irish director Nora Twomey, who co-directed the exquisitely beautiful The Secret of Kells, launches out on her own with the gorgeously animated film set in Kabul in 2001 on the cusp of America’s invasion in retaliation for the attack on the Twin Towers. With its theme of the Taliban’s oppression of women, the film will remind some of another similarly themed film, though set in Iran, Persepolis.”
  3. THE LIFE AHEAD—”Even were it only half as good, this remake of the Romain Gary novel that became the Oscar-winning 1977 French drama, Madame Rosa, would be noteworthy because of its star and director: Sophie Loren and her son Edoardo Ponti.”
  4. THE 12th MANNorway, 1943: After a failed anti-Nazi sabotage mission leaves his eleven comrades dead, Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud (Thomas Gullestad) finds himself on the run from the Gestapo through the snowbound Arctic reaches of Scandinavia.
  5. FUNANCambodia, April 1975. Chou is a young woman whose everyday world is suddenly upended by the arrival of the Khmer Rouge regime. During the chaos of the forced exile from their home, Chou and her husband are separated from their 4-year-old son, who has been sent to an unknown location.
  6. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ed writes, “Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue in cheek mini-series that he created and helped produce and write.  We know at the outset that this isn’t pure history when, before the title we read, ‘All of this is true… Most of it happened.’ The ‘true’ part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  7. WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME“The title of actress/writer Heidi Schreck’s Broadway hit suggests that her one-person (almost) dramedy must be very personal, and we soon see just how deeply personal it is. Attired in a yellow school-type blazer, she takes us back to when she was a precocious 15-year-old competing in American Legion-sponsored What the Constitution Means to Me contests.” He urges all of us to see it—streaming for free now with Amazon Prime.
  8. LET HIM GO—This is sort of a Gothic horror film for senior citizens, thanks to the goose bump-rising performance of Lesley Manning as the matriarch of a North Dakota family. But writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s adaption of Larry Watson’s 2013 novel does not start there but in neighboring Montana. As all good horror thrillers, it starts on a peaceful note on the ranch of Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).”
  9. AND BREATHE NORMALLY NOW—”The conflict over immigration and protecting a nation’s borders is not just an American concern, as this dramatic film by first time Icelandic director Ísold Uggadóttir shows.
  10. CHASING FREEDOM—Reaching back to 2004, Ed writes, “Though director Don McBrearty’s TV movie was released in 2004, its concern for the plight of the endangered immigrant remains as timely as ever.”
  11. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7—”West Wing lovers might well be ecstatic while viewing writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s new film that Netflix picked up after the pandemic forced Paramount Pictures to scrap plans for a theatrical release. Sorkin’s film is full of the conflict between the powerful and the vulnerable and the fast-paced repartee that made the White House-based series so enjoyable to watch. The infamous trial, dragging out over 4 ½ months, was almost ready-made for a film, with its colorful, controversial characters.”
  12. THE WAY I SEE IT—”Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  13. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  14. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  15. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

 

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Cover Story: In ‘For All Who Hunger’—Emily Scott tells how she began uniting a diverse community, one dinner at a time

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Meet the Founder of the ‘Dinner Church’ Movement

Facing the Demons of Isolation and Exclusion with Bread and Wine

COVER STORY—AS WISE PROPHETS have done for thousands of years, Emily Scott saw where American forces of isolation and exclusion were headed. She met these dark forces with delicious dinners that drew together a remarkably diverse congregation despite a host of challenges—including a full-fledged hurricane! For her spiritual foresight and courage, Emily is recognized as the founder of the “dinner church” movement that now is spreading around the world. Now, she tells the inside story of this almost impossible quest in a book she calls simply, For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World.

Think about that title for a moment. Isn’t that what we’re all hoping to find in this season of turbulence, especially in the United States. Please, read this cover story—which is based on our interview with Emily about her hopes for our future—and then share it with friends. As you get excited about Emily’s spiritual adventures, who knows? There may be a dinner church in your future.

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Want More Good News?
We’ve Got Lots to Share!

NAJAH BAZZY ALWAYS INSPIRES US

BEST-SELLING AUTHOR MITCH ALBOM just posted his latest Heart of Detroit video story about our own author and all-around hero Najah Bazzy. The headline is: One nurse is helping hundreds of thousands of people in the Heart of Detroit

Over the years, we have been honored to publish the writings of Zaman International founder Najah Bazzy—who also has been honored as a CNN network and People magazine hero, not to mention a hero whose face was featured on a special edition of Lays potato chips bags.

In addition to her Beauty of Ramadan, Najah also has contributed to our collection Friendship and Faith—and she wrote a chapter of our upcoming book: What Now? A Guide to the Gifts and Challenges of Aging, due to be published in early 2021.

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‘PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION’

AUTHOR and CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST MARTIN DAVIS appears this week on the Play Like a Champion podcast. This nationwide nonprofit has worked with 130,000 coaches to promote education and best practices that will ensure athletic programs are focused on the entire physical, mental and emotional well being of children.

In this new Champion podcast, Martin talks with the hosts about core values in coaching, including the importance of academics as well as athletics. In addition, the hosts ask Martin about his upcoming book 30 Days with America’s High School Coaches. Intrigued? You can learn more about Martin’s work at his home website—where you also can sign up to follow his ongoing columns, podcasts and other news. If you’d like to hear this latest podcast, here’s a direct link to listen to the Play Like a Champion interview with Martin.

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‘THERE IS A LOT OF WISDOM IN THIS BOOK’

THAT’S WHAT JIM FAUSONE tells Col. Clifford Worthy about his memoir, The Black Knight. Fausone is the host of Veterans Radio. He’s a veteran himself who has dedicated his long career to work that has improved conditions for all veterans. One way he highlights veterans’ issues is through these podcasts. Fausone leads Col. Worthy through his entire book, which includes stories about his family, his experiences at West Point as one of its first Black cadets—and even the dramatic night when Col. Worthy and his wife found themselves in a dangerous situation in a rural diner. This 50-minute podcast with Fausone is the best interview we’ve heard with Col. Worthy about his long career, which included service in Europe in the Cold War and later in Vietnam.

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WANT TO SUPER-CHARGE YOUR ZOOM?

JOE GRIMM INTRODUCES PREZI

THIS IS THE SECOND in a series of videos by Michigan State University Journalism Professor Joe Grimm—the founder and coordinator of the 18-volume series of Bias Busters’ guides to cultural competence. In these videos, Joe shares tips for writers, editors, educators and community leaders about how to create media that will excite people as you share your message. In this video, Joe introduces Prezi video tools and shows how he uses them himself in online talks he produces.

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Fueling Our Lamps

THIS WEEK, LARRY BUXTON talks about the values that are leading millions of Americans beyond the dangerous divisions we still face in our post-election political turbulence. He reminds us of timeless virtues, including integrity, humility, courage, tenderness and self-control. “They’re the fuel for leadership,” he says in this week’s short video. Please, visit his website, enjoy this short video and share it with friends.

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HOLIDAYS & MILESTONES

Those 272 Words at Gettysburg

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2020, is the anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer writes: “When we re-read his 272 words, we find subliminal poetry—and it is all about birth: conceived, brought forth, birth and rebirth. All the major verbs and nouns reflect this generative feminine motif. To him the killing field can most deeply be seen and felt as a birthing place, not to glorify war and death, but to see glory and new life in the honor and dedication to a high ideal sacrificed for on that ground. That ideal was, in Lincoln’s mind, and then in so many hearers’ minds ever since, the idea of freedom and its soul-mate, equality.”

 

The Christmas season begins

NOVEMBER 15—The American Thanksgiving may not have arrived yet, but millions of Orthodox Christians around the world are turning toward the season of Jesus’s birth—which they refer to formally as the Nativity—with the start of the Nativity Fast on November 15. For many centuries, Eastern Christians have prepared for the Nativity with a 40-day Nativity Fast. And, yes, we know Orthodox dates vary, a detail that Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton explains in her column.

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Thanksgiving

SOCIALLY DISTANCED DINNERS?—Stephanie Fenton writes, “Thanksgiving in 2020 will undoubtedly look different, but that doesn’t mean Americans can’t still count their blessings—after all, it’s the season of gratitude! Houses of worship across the country are encouraging Americans from their websites, offering a hopeful message in spite of the pandemic: Give thanks anyway!

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St. Nicholas Day

PLAN AHEAD FOR DECEMBER 6—The white-bearded man in the red suit may travel by reindeer in the West, but on December 6, Sinterklaas, or San Nicola, arrives across Europe on horseback—for St. Nicholas Day. For European children, St. Nicholas Day brings hope of sweets, small toys and surprises. For Christian families, the excitement and gifts of St. Nicholas Day can better prepare children for focus on the Nativity on Christmas Day.

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Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! To celebrate a decade of Ed McNulty’s involvement with ReadTheSpirit magazine, we are offering a half-price annual subscription to Ed’s premium content, his Visual Parables Journal. These monthly PDF-format magazines are packed with complete discussion guides for lots of films, both current and classic. It’s great for individual reflection and small-group discussion. Clicking on this image takes you to the Visual Parables Journal page where you can scroll down to the red-colored section and learn more about this special offer, now through December 31.

FAITH & FILM 

Click this image to learn more about the November 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal.

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ed writes, “Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue in cheek mini-series that he created and helped produce and write.  We know at the outset that this isn’t pure history when, before the title we read, ‘All of this is true… Most of it happened.’ The ‘true’ part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  2. WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME“The title of actress/writer Heidi Schreck’s Broadway hit suggests that her one-person (almost) dramedy must be very personal, and we soon see just how deeply personal it is. Attired in a yellow school-type blazer, she takes us back to when she was a precocious 15-year-old competing in American Legion-sponsored What the Constitution Means to Me contests.” He urges all of us to see it—streaming for free now with Amazon Prime.
  3. LET HIM GO—This is sort of a Gothic horror film for senior citizens, thanks to the goose bump-rising performance of Lesley Manning as the matriarch of a North Dakota family. But writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s adaption of Larry Watson’s 2013 novel does not start there but in neighboring Montana. As all good horror thrillers, it starts on a peaceful note on the ranch of Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).”
  4. AND BREATHE NORMALLY NOW—”The conflict over immigration and protecting a nation’s borders is not just an American concern, as this dramatic film by first time Icelandic director Ísold Uggadóttir shows.
  5. CHASING FREEDOM—Reaching back to 2004, Ed writes, “Though director Don McBrearty’s TV movie was released in 2004, its concern for the plight of the endangered immigrant remains as timely as ever.”
  6. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7—”West Wing lovers might well be ecstatic while viewing writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s new film that Netflix picked up after the pandemic forced Paramount Pictures to scrap plans for a theatrical release. Sorkin’s film is full of the conflict between the powerful and the vulnerable and the fast-paced repartee that made the White House-based series so enjoyable to watch. The infamous trial, dragging out over 4 ½ months, was almost ready-made for a film, with its colorful, controversial characters.”
  7. THE WAY I SEE IT—”Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  8. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  9. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  10. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

 

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Cover Story: Exploring America’s Religious Diversity, MSU team’s latest book explains the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As Americans Move Toward Unity, Once Again …

Let’s Promote Awareness of Our Religious Minorities

MSU JOURNALISM STUDENTS, known as “THE BIAS BUSTERS,” launch their 18th guide to cross-cultural awareness—focusing on the uniquely American religious movement, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our Cover Story this week tells why they chose this subject for their latest book—and why understanding religious minorities is crucial in bringing Americans back together, again.

One inspiring comment you’ll find in our Cover Story comes from an LDS member who reflects on the pain of bias that comes from the myths and stereotypes so many Americans hurl around in everyday conversations. “When our hyper-focusing on differences causes us to lose sight of our common humanity—and we treat people as less than human because they’re not like us—we betray the ‘better angels of our nature.’ The world is less full of love, joy, and peace. Everyone suffers when one suffers.”

Please learn about this important new book, published as the Latter-day Saints are nearing the 200th anniversary of their origins as a religious movement, and share this news with friends.

How Journalists Help Us …

… by Cutting Through Myths that Divide Us

GIVE MSU’s JOE GRIMM 3 MINUTES—and he’ll give you a quick overview of how these MSU School of Journalism Bias Busters books take shape. Joe calls this brief video “Book-Amorphosis.” It’s a great reminder of the vital role journalists play in bringing us fair, accurate and balanced reporting. What’s more? Journalists tend to do that with remarkable speed, precision and flexibility. After relentless attacks on journalists, it’s time to remember how important this profession is in our democracy. Watch the video and share this story with friends.

Let’s Encourage Our ‘Better Angels’

CONSIDER FOR A MOMENT: Giving someone copies of this MSU Bias Busters series is a great way to start the process of reuniting America after one of the most deeply divisive periods in our history. Let’s all encourage friends, families, neighbors and co-workers to learn more about our cultural, ethnic, racial and religious minorities as a way to help heal our wounds. Here’s a link to the Amazon page that displays the entire series of 18 Bias Busters books.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL! The other book series we have launched to help Americans remember the values that unite us started one year ago this week with the publication of 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln. Were you struck by the comment, above, invoking our “better angels”? That’s an appeal to Lincoln’s wisdom—something that all Americans, whatever their political affiliation today, are willing to do to find common ground. Please, if you’re making a holiday gift-giving list, also consider ordering a copy of our Lincoln book for yourself—and for someone on your holiday shopping list, this year.

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And Speaking of Books with Healing Wisdom …

‘Calmness is Contageous!’

THE SECOND VOLUME in the series that began with Abraham Lincoln is 30 Days with King David on Leadership. Got room on your holiday shopping list for one more book? Want to learn more about how David can play a role in bringing people together? Visit author Larry Buxton’s website to get his free, weekly videos that will add just a few minutes of wise inspiration to your week. This week’s subject is: ‘Calmness Is Contageous!

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Celebrating a Courageous Prophet of Inclusion

FOR SIX YEARS, DR. DAVID GUSHEE has helped thousands of Christian families around the world learn to love each other more fully, after decades of heart-breaking evangelical condemnation of LGBTQ loved ones. That’s how Dr. Gushee describes the worldwide work he launched in 2014, a story captured in his book Changing Our Mind. Last week, we celebrated Dr. Gushee crossing the milestone of 20,000 copies sold. Now, we are reminding readers that one major catalyst in his prophetic work occurred six years ago this week. Ever since that moment on November 8, 2014, we have been streaming the video of his keynote address at The Reformation Project conference in Washington, D.C. Please, share these stories with friends to help expand this healing message to even more families.

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Holidays & Festivals

Another way to prepare for Veterans Day is to order a copy of the 100 Questions and Answers about Veterans, a book that’s packed with information veterans told us they wish more Americans understood about their lives and experiences. Click this image to visit Amazon.

Remembering Our Veterans

ON NOVEMBER 11, a new National Museum of the United States Army will open in Virginia with a live-streamed ceremony followed by public access following COVID-19 safety procedures.

Stephanie Fenton’s column includes a 3-minute video about the new facility. And, at the close of her column, she has a convenient link to the online clearinghouse for news-updates about special restaurant offers to treat vets on this national observance.

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Diwali

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTSMore than 1 billion people around the world celebrate this festival of lights, which originated in India, as Stephanie Fenton reports.

Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! To celebrate a decade of Ed McNulty’s involvement with ReadTheSpirit magazine, we are offering a half-price annual subscription to Ed’s premium content, his Visual Parables Journal. These monthly PDF-format magazines are packed with complete discussion guides for lots of films, both current and classic. It’s great for individual reflection and small-group discussion. Clicking on this image takes you to the Visual Parables Journal page where you can scroll down to the red-colored section and learn more about this special offer, now through December 31.

FAITH & FILM 

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. LET HIM GO—Ed writes, “This is sort of a Gothic horror film for senior citizens, thanks to the goose bump-rising performance of Lesley Manning as the matriarch of a North Dakota family. But writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s adaption of Larry Watson’s 2013 novel does not start there but in neighboring Montana. As all good horror thrillers, it starts on a peaceful note on the ranch of Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).”
  2. LEADBELLY—Ed reaches back to 1976 to highly recommend Gordon Parks’ cinematic biography of Huddie Ledbetter, better known as the musician “Leadbelly.”
  3. WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME“The title of actress/writer Heidi Schreck’s Broadway hit suggests that her one-person (almost) dramedy must be very personal, and we soon see just how deeply personal it is. Attired in a yellow school-type blazer, she takes us back to when she was a precocious 15-year-old competing in American Legion-sponsored What the Constitution Means to Me contests.” He urges all of us to see it—streaming for free now with Amazon Prime.
  4. AND BREATHE NORMALLY NOW—”The conflict over immigration and protecting a nation’s borders is not just an American concern, as this dramatic film by first time Icelandic director Ísold Uggadóttir shows.
  5. CHASING FREEDOM—Reaching back to 2004, Ed writes, “Though director Don McBrearty’s TV movie was released in 2004, its concern for the plight of the endangered immigrant remains as timely as ever.”
  6. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7—”West Wing lovers might well be ecstatic while viewing writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s new film that Netflix picked up after the pandemic forced Paramount Pictures to scrap plans for a theatrical release. Sorkin’s film is full of the conflict between the powerful and the vulnerable and the fast-paced repartee that made the White House-based series so enjoyable to watch. The infamous trial, dragging out over 4 ½ months, was almost ready-made for a film, with its colorful, controversial characters.”
  7. THE WAY I SEE IT—”Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  8. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  9. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  10. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

 

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Cover Story: In a Challenging Week, Col. Clifford Worthy Calls Out as a Prophet for Unity

Retired Col. Clifford Worthy, 92—the oldest living Black graduate of West Point—stands shoulder to shoulder with members of his family.

Like a contemporary Psalm—

Col. Worthy asks: ‘Are Americans’ Bindings Breaking?’

OUR COVER STORY IN A WEEK OF HIGH ANXIETY—As we move through a week of anxiety in America that none of us have experienced at least since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks two decades ago, we are offering an eloquent appeal—you might think of it as a classic Psalm crying out for help and hope—from one of America’s true heroes: retired Col. Clifford Worthy, the oldest living Black graduate of West Point at age 92.

Please, read this cover story from Col. Worthy—and share it with friends via social media, email or even by printing out the story (there’s a convenient print button at the end of all our stories) and giving it to someone you know who would find inspiration and hope in these words.

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Larry Buxton asks us, please: ‘Listen!’

IN HIS “LEADING WITH SPIRIT” short video this week, author and leadership coach Larry Buxton reminds us of the value of actually listening to other people. In part, he says: “What we’re learning is that humility and listening show a different type of strength—the strength of curiosity. The strength of not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Valuing others. The strength to set your own ego aside for a few moments and really listen to someone else.”

Please, visit Larry’s leadership website and watch this very timely 5-minute video, which you are free to share with others. It’s easy, because these are YouTube videos with easy sharing options built into the video screen. While you’re at Larry’s website, go to his homepage and sign up to get one free email each week with a new leadership video.

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Everyone’s Looking to Lincoln—

But which example do we hope to follow?

DUNCAN NEWCOMER’S QUIET FIRE column this week looks at the way Lincoln dared to reach across the aisle to discover new friends—when their values aligned with his vision of America, whatever their official political affiliation might be. Almost every day, in this election year, Americans are looking toward Lincoln for wisdom—sometimes pointed in that direction by politicians and sometimes appearing in the pages of major newspapers and magazines. Just this week, for example, The New York Times published a long story about all the dangers Lincoln—and all Americans—faced in the 1860 election.

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Want Some Really Good News?

Celebrating Dr. David Gushee Topping 20,000 Copies Sold

‘CHANGING OUR MIND,‘ Dr. David Gushee’s book has helped to change the relationships in thousands of Christian families that have struggled with acceptance of LGBTQ loved ones. In this week’s Front Edge Publishing column, we explain what that publishing milestone really means. 

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Holidays & Festivals

Another way to prepare for Veterans Day is to order a copy of the 100 Questions and Answers about Veterans, a book that’s packed with information veterans told us they wish more Americans understood about their lives and experiences. Click this image to visit Amazon.

Plan Ahead for Veterans Day!

ON NOVEMBER 11, this year, a new National Museum of the United States Army will open in Virginia with a live-streamed ceremony followed by public access following COVID-19 safety procedures. Stephanie Fenton’s column includes a 3-minute video about the new facility. And, at the close of her column, she has a convenient link to the online clearinghouse for news-updates about special restaurant offers to treat vets on this national observance.

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Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! To celebrate a decade of Ed McNulty’s involvement with ReadTheSpirit magazine, we are offering a half-price annual subscription to Ed’s premium content, his Visual Parables Journal. These monthly PDF-format magazines are packed with complete discussion guides for lots of films, both current and classic. It’s great for individual reflection and small-group discussion. Clicking on this image takes you to the Visual Parables Journal page where you can scroll down to the red-colored section and learn more about this special offer, now through December 31.

FAITH & FILM 

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO MEEd writes, “The title of actress/writer Heidi Schreck’s Broadway hit suggests that her one-person (almost) dramedy must be very personal, and we soon see just how deeply personal it is. Attired in a yellow school-type blazer, she takes us back to when she was a precocious 15-year-old competing in American Legion-sponsored What the Constitution Means to Me contests.” He urges all of us to see it—streaming for free now with Amazon Prime.
  2. AND BREATHE NORMALLY NOW—”The conflict over immigration and protecting a nation’s borders is not just an American concern, as this dramatic film by first time Icelandic director Ísold Uggadóttir shows.
  3. CHASING FREEDOM—Reaching back to 2004, Ed writes, “Though director Don McBrearty’s TV movie was released in 2004, its concern for the plight of the endangered immigrant remains as timely as ever.”
  4. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7—”West Wing lovers might well be ecstatic while viewing writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s new film that Netflix picked up after the pandemic forced Paramount Pictures to scrap plans for a theatrical release. Sorkin’s film is full of the conflict between the powerful and the vulnerable and the fast-paced repartee that made the White House-based series so enjoyable to watch. The infamous trial, dragging out over 4 ½ months, was almost ready-made for a film, with its colorful, controversial characters.”
  5. THE WAY I SEE IT—”Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  6. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  7. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  8. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

  9. BORGEN—For years, the Danish series has been praised by critics in the U.S., but the series has not been available to most TV viewers. Now that Netflix is streaming three seasons of Borgen, Ed McNulty offers his own strong praise for these nearly 30 hours of exceptional TV. And, Ed adds some thought-provoking questions to consider as you begin to watch the series.
  10. RESIDUEMerawi Gerima’s debut film explores the complex costs of gentrification—in this case, in Washington DC. Ed compares it to the other 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

 

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Cover Story: ‘We the People …’ letters to America from our writers

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At This Moment in Our History …

OUR WRITERS HOPE TO SPARK OUR CONSCIENCE

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From Larry Buxton—
‘Signs of Hope’

IN HIS BRIEF LEADERSHIP VIDEO this week, Larry Buxton begins, “All over our country right now, people are discussing variations on one central question: What kind of leadership does our country most need right now? It hasn’t been an easy question to answer even for those of us who ground our beliefs in a religious faith.”

We open this unusual ReadTheSpirit Cover Story with Larry’s video because of the remarkable balance—and geographic breadth—of his short video. Larry expands his central question into a national conversation about the kinds of leaders we need in our world, our communities and our families. He describes two groups who recently invited him to speak with them virtually, beginning with a group at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This wasn’t a partisan discussion, Larry explains. “These church folk felt they were representing the virtues and values of their faith in ways that strengthen our foundations.” Then, Larry also describes meeting with the Washington D.C. chapter of the Rumi Forum, which promotes interfaith dialogue and peace. They asked, “What would it take for us to lay down our metaphorical arms?”

Larry concludes, “I believe these gatherings are signs of hope.” And, he’s right! This is a wonderfully balanced and brief YouTube video (only 5 minutes) that you can share right now with friends by visiting Larry’s website and using social media to spread the message. (Want to get a free email reminder each week when Larry posts a new video? Go to LarryBuxton.com and sign up. Don’t worry; you can cancel anytime.)

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From David Gushee—
‘We the People …’

AUTHOR OF THE BEST-SELLING ‘CHANGING OUR MIND,’ Dr. David Gushee was one of the early progressive Christian endorsers of the Biden campaign this summer in an interfaith coalition of 350 endorsers that included the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Diana Butler Bass, Ron Sider, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Anju Bhargava, Imam Talib Shareef and Brian McLaren.

Gushee also is a supporter of a progressive-Christian manifesto called Christians Against Trumpism and Political Extremism that says in part: ” ‘We the people’ need to awaken to the ideals that animate us as people of faith and Americans.”  This national effort draws together scores of Christian leaders, scholars and political activists who generally have been described as evangelical. The founders of this group are popular authors, speakers and activists John Kingston and Joel Searby. On the front page of their website, there is a space to add your name, if you wish. Supporters of this particular effort include writers who have appeared in the pages of our ReadTheSpirit magazine over the years, among them: Miroslav Volf, Randall Balmer, Tony Jones and Ron Sider.

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From Duncan Newcomer—
‘We are elected!’

IN THREE WORDS, LINCOLN CAPTURED IT:We are elected.” After months of heated political claims about which 2020 presidential candidate may be more like the great Abe Lincoln—our resident Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer explains how distinctively expansive Lincoln was in his understanding of our political process. Throughout Lincoln’s life, it was all about—we.

And please note: Like so many of our columns, this week, you’ll definitely want to share this one with friends.

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From Victor Begg—
‘A Fork in the Road …’

WE MUST CHOOSE HOPE, NOT FEAR, argues Victor Begg, who has devoted decades of his life to interfaith peacemaking. The author of Our Muslim Neighbors—a memoir that tells the story of his adventures in peacemaking—says that his faith in America’s conscience is undimmed, despite the tumultuous campaigns this year. We have weathered so much in 2020, he writes. Now, we must act.

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From Benjamin Pratt—
‘Want to talk with me, or only at me?’

WATCHING THE RUSH TO FORCE a new justice onto the Supreme Court, pastoral counselor and author Benjamin Pratt advises that we need to step back and discern the moral consequences of such brute political force. Ben is one of the most popular contributing columnists over the past decade of ReadTheSpirit magazine and, in this column, he reaches back to his 2008 book Ian Fleming’s Deadlier Sins to grapple with the spiritual and moral forces that are clashing among our nation’s leaders at this moment.

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From Henry Brinton—
‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it meant to—Wesley’

THAT’S THE INVITATION from pastor, author and educator Henry Brinton, who writes about why it’s so important to recover respect at this turbulent time in our nation’s history. Love may be out of the question, but at least we can start with a civic value on which we can begin to rebuild community. Religious leaders have been teaching this wisdom for centuries, Brinton writes, including the founder of the worldwide Methodist movement: John Wesley.

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World’s Most Expensive Gift Books

Our Love Affair with Paper Books Continues

FRONT EDGE PUBLISHINGIn the second of two FEP columns about our timeless love for paper books, Editor David Crumm reports on what is surely the world’s most expensive gift-book offering for the holidays—a new three-volume set from Callaway Arts for the 2020 holiday shopping season. Callaway has a long history of touching off global buzz in the publishing industry. Back in 1992, the company collaborated with Madonna on the R-rated coffee-table book, “Sex.” In sharp contrast, the subject of the 2020 project is sacred: “The Sistine Chapel.” Our story includes a link to a fascinating 3-minute video about how these remarkable books were created.

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Holidays & Festivals

Have you seen a candy chute? We’ve got a video!

Halloween and—

Allhallowtide,
Samhain,
Dia de los Muertos

THE VEIL IS THIN—From Samhain to Mexico’s Day of the Dead, world cultures celebrate the belief that at this time of year, the veil between this world and the next is particularly thin and ancestors are held close.

Don’t worry, it’s not all solemn and bone-chilling, though—today’s secular Halloween also brings out bright Jack-o-lanterns, loads of candy and a pretty good excuse for adults to join in on the costuming fun with kids. So grab your best ghoulish mask and get the (Halloween) party started! We’ve got the story—and a fun little 1-minute video of a 2020 “candy chute” that’s 2-stories tall!

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Another way to prepare for Veterans Day is to order a copy of the 100 Questions and Answers about Veterans, a book that’s packed with information veterans told us they wish more Americans understood about their lives and experiences. Click this image to visit Amazon.

Plan Ahead for Veterans Day!

ON NOVEMBER 11, this year, a new National Museum of the United States Army will open in Virginia with a live-streamed ceremony followed by public access following COVID-19 safety procedures. Stephanie Fenton’s column includes a 3-minute video about the new facility. And, at the close of her column, she has a convenient link to the online clearinghouse for news-updates about special restaurant offers to treat vets on this national observance.

.

Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

.

.

.

.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! To celebrate a decade of Ed McNulty’s involvement with ReadTheSpirit magazine, we are offering a half-price annual subscription to Ed’s premium content, his Visual Parables Journal. These monthly PDF-format magazines are packed with complete discussion guides for lots of films, both current and classic. It’s great for individual reflection and small-group discussion. Clicking on this image takes you to the Visual Parables Journal page where you can scroll down to the red-colored section and learn more about this special offer, now through December 31.

FAITH & FILM 

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. CHI-RAQEd reaches back to 2015 to highly recommend this unusual Spike Lee production, describing it this way: “Spike Lee’s musical satire borrows its plot from the racy classic Lysistrata by the Greek playwright Aristophanes. It will make you laugh and think about the terrible problem of black on black violence in our society. Some critics have called it “a mess,” and at some points it is, but what an entertaining and stimulating mess. And, for people of faith, there is the most powerful social justice sermon that I have ever seen in my 40 years of writing about film!”
  2. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7—”West Wing lovers might well be ecstatic while viewing writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s new film that Netflix picked up after the pandemic forced Paramount Pictures to scrap plans for a theatrical release. Sorkin’s film is full of the conflict between the powerful and the vulnerable and the fast-paced repartee that made the White House-based series so enjoyable to watch. The infamous trial, dragging out over 4 ½ months, was almost ready-made for a film, with its colorful, controversial characters.”
  3. THE WAY I SEE IT—”Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  4. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  5. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  6. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

  7. BORGEN—For years, the Danish series has been praised by critics in the U.S., but the series has not been available to most TV viewers. Now that Netflix is streaming three seasons of Borgen, Ed McNulty offers his own strong praise for these nearly 30 hours of exceptional TV. And, Ed adds some thought-provoking questions to consider as you begin to watch the series.
  8. RESIDUEMerawi Gerima’s debut film explores the complex costs of gentrification—in this case, in Washington DC. Ed compares it to the other 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
  9. RUBY BRIDGES—Ed writes, “Ruby Bridges tells the story of how a six-year old Black girl integrated a New Orleans segregated school in 1960. … Not expecting a whole lot of it because it was a Disney film, it turned out to soar way beyond my expectations.”
  10. ALL IN—THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY—Ed writes, “Directors Lisa Cortes’ and Liz Garbus’s well-produced documentary could not be more timely, coming out just a month or so before the 2020 national elections..

 

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Cover Story: Celebrating a decade of Faith & Film—with a holiday discount for you and your friends

Watching More Films These Days?

You’ll Enjoy This Monthly Guide to Faith & Film

CELEBRATE WITH US! In 2011, we welcomed the nation’s leading Faith & Film writer Ed McNulty into the pages of ReadTheSpirit magazine. Back in 2011, we began with a series of articles drawn from Ed’s many decades of work—including a series of fun and faith-filled columns Ed wrote about how Hollywood translates religious themes on the big screen. Readers loved this new voice! So, two years later, we moved Ed’s entire Visual Parables online magazine—thousands of these inspiring reviews—into ReadTheSpirit as its own stand-alone section of our online magazine. (Scroll down, today, to see this week’s new headlines in Visual Parables.)

To celebrate, we are inviting new and long-time readers to visit Ed’s Visual Parables section and purchase an annual subscription to his premium content—at a half-off discount. Every week, Ed freely publishes film reviews with a special focus on relating these films to our religious traditions. For many years, he has supported this pro bono work by selling annual subscriptions to his monthly Visual Parables Journal. Each issue is packed with complete discussion guides—and is delivered in a convenient PDF format.

Now through December 31, 2020, we are offering a half-off coupon for new Journal subscribers—and for long-time subscribers who renew during this period. HERE’S HOW: Click on this link to go to the Visual Parables Journal subscription page. On that page, you’ll learn more about the monthly Journal. You can see a sample issue from earlier this year. Then, go to the red-colored section of the page to use the coupon.

And please, tell friends and family about this. What’s more fun than personally reflecting on the movies you’re streaming these days? Talking with others about it! With the Journal in hand, you can start a virtual discussion group in your family or in your congregation. If you’re subscribing to Ed’s Journal, each month, you’ll have dozens of thought-provoking questions about lots of new and classic films.

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And, reading more books, too?

YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

THE WHOLE WORLD IS READING MORE IN 2020! As surprising as this may seem, Americans are reading more books than ever before—and they’re preferring to read those books in traditional paper. It’s true.

Even school children and young adults prefer paper books! Kids say they love the feel of books. Young adults say they’re just tired of staring at screens all day and want a break.

Editor David Crumm writes this week’s Front Edge Publishing column about our collective love affair with paper books.

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From Our Authors:

From Duncan Newcomer—

Now, like Lincoln, We’re All Hoping for ‘Yonder’

IN THE FINAL WEEKS OF OCTOBER 2020, Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer reminds us of a powerful vision that sprang from Lincoln’s boyhood at his mother’s side: Yonder. It’s a yearning millions of Americans are feeling intensely right now.

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From Rodger Murchison—

‘These are universal questions’

AS AMERICA MOVES TOWARD ANOTHER RISE in COVID-19 infections, thousands of families are addressing grief and frustration. In a timely collection of spiritual wisdom, headlined What to Say and What Not to Say to Someone Who Is GrievingUpJourney online magazine included advice from our Rodger Murchison.

Rodger is well known across both the U.S. and the UK for his helpful, research-based book, Guide for Grief: Help in Surviving the Stages of Grief and Bereavement after a Loss. The editors at UpJourney invited two dozen experts on grief to contribute their answers to the headline question. Rodger’s response is easy to find: He’s the fifth writer in the UpJourney collection of sage advice.

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Holidays & Festivals

Have you seen a candy chute? We’ve got a video!

Halloween and—

Allhallowtide,
Samhain,
Dia de los Muertos

THE VEIL IS THIN—From Samhain to Mexico’s Day of the Dead, world cultures celebrate the belief that at this time of year, the veil between this world and the next is particularly thin and ancestors are held close.

Don’t worry, it’s not all solemn and bone-chilling, though—today’s secular Halloween also brings out bright Jack-o-lanterns, loads of candy and a pretty good excuse for adults to join in on the costuming fun with kids. So grab your best ghoulish mask and get the (Halloween) party started! We’ve got the story—and a fun little 1-minute video of a 2020 “candy chute” that’s 2-stories tall!

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Dussehra: In India, Hindus gather even in pandemic

JOYOUS FESTIVAL—For Navaratri and Dussehra, Hindus in India will be permitted to gather in temples—some of which have been closed since the lockdowns began. Religious functions may be held, with a limit of 100 people (outside of containment zones). The wearing of masks, social distancing, sanitizing and other health precautions will remain mandatory. From the Sanskrit words for “remover of bad fate,” Dussehra brings towering effigies to the streets of India, along with a host of ancient rituals. Stephanie Fenton has the story.

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Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

.

.

Click on this image to learn more about the October 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal, which includes study guides of Ruby Bridges, Hosea, Comey Rules and All In—Fight for Democracy among many others.

FAITH & FILM 

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. THE WAY I SEE IT—Ed writes, “Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  2. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  3. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  4. NEW ORLEANS—Ed reaches back to 1947 to recommend this film, now streaming on YouTube. He writes, “When I discovered this 1947 film on YouTube, the main reason for watching it, other than the hope for some good jazz, was that it featured singer Billy Holiday in her only film, other than a short made back in the ’30s. She plays a singer named Endie whose boyfriend is Louis Armstrong, playing himself.”
  5. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

  6. BORGEN—For years, the Danish series has been praised by critics in the U.S., but the series has not been available to most TV viewers. Now that Netflix is streaming three seasons of Borgen, Ed McNulty offers his own strong praise for these nearly 30 hours of exceptional TV. And, Ed adds some thought-provoking questions to consider as you begin to watch the series.
  7. RESIDUEMerawi Gerima’s debut film explores the complex costs of gentrification—in this case, in Washington DC. Ed compares it to the other 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
  8. RUBY BRIDGES—Ed writes, “Ruby Bridges tells the story of how a six-year old Black girl integrated a New Orleans segregated school in 1960. … Not expecting a whole lot of it because it was a Disney film, it turned out to soar way beyond my expectations.”
  9. ALL IN—THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY—Ed writes, “Directors Lisa Cortes’ and Liz Garbus’s well-produced documentary could not be more timely, coming out just a month or so before the 2020 national elections.
  10. BY THE GRACE OF GOD, originally Grâce à Dieu—”Francois Ozon’s rivetting drama joins two other excellent films—Our Fathers and Spotlight—that personalize the issue of the abuse of boys by priests and its cover-up. The script, written by the director, is based on the real lives of three men abused as boys by Father Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley).”

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Video Cover Story: Talking with futurist Rita J. King, Craig Lemasters shares how leaders can get ‘Unstuck’

In This Turbulent Time, Are You Stuck?

THE STORY BEGINS WITH …

RITA: I met Craig years ago when he came to Science House in Manhattan to work on business development. At that time, he was CEO of Assurant Solutions and now he is CEO of GXG helping other leaders to get unstuck. His new book documents his methods.

CRAIG: Let me define “stuck” because some people find it offensive when I ask them: “What are you stuck on?” It’s important to explain this: The way I define stuck is that we’re simply not moving fast enough to whatever the destination is. There’s a whole bunch of stuff we get stuck on. And the truth is: We all get stuck at some point.

I don’t want people to misinterpret. When I talk about getting “stuck,” I’m not saying that these are not good people, or they’re not working hard enough or that they don’t care. That’s usually not the problem. The problem almost always is …

Please, enjoy our two-video Cover Story this week—and we know you’ll want to share one this with friends—which is so easy to do on social media.

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From Our Authors: Letters to America

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Look Up into the Starry Night Sky

IN OUR FIRST LETTER THIS WEEK, author Ken Whitt invites us to visit his newly launched Traces of God Ministries website.

Ken’s letter of invitation appears in our Front Edge Publishing column this week—because our publishing-house team encourages all writers to carefully consider where they can welcome community conversation online. In answer to that question, Ken decided to launch a full-scale website, aided by web designer Michael Thompson. This letter from Ken explains what he hopes readers will find at his new online home, each week.

And, please, if you find them helpful, please share these letters with friends.

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And, from Duncan Newcomer—

Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson!

LINCOLN SCHOLAR Duncan Newcomer salutes Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson’s appeal for a rebirth of America’s grand vision in this week’s New York Times. That’s a call to action that Lincoln himself often made during the turbulent years of the Civil War.

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Holidays & Festivals

What do we do with a holiday after toppling three dozen statues honoring its “hero”?

TUMBLING ALONG WITH COLUMBUS DAYAmerican journalists are unsure how to cover this “holiday” in a year when three dozen Columbus statues have been toppled nationwide—and protests are inspiring a growing number of regional leaders to distance themselves from this observance. We’ve got the story, which you may want to share with friends.

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Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

.

.

Click on this image to learn more about the October 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal, which includes study guides of Ruby Bridges, Hosea, Comey Rules and All In—Fight for Democracy among many others.

FAITH & FILM 

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns:

  1. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ed McNulty writes, “Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  2. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  3. NEW ORLEANS—Ed McNulty reaches back to 1947 to recommend this film, now streaming on YouTube. He writes, “When I discovered this 1947 film on YouTube, the main reason for watching it, other than the hope for some good jazz, was that it featured singer Billy Holiday in her only film, other than a short made back in the ’30s. She plays a singer named Endie whose boyfriend is Louis Armstrong, playing himself.”
  4. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”

  5. BORGEN—For years, the Danish series has been praised by critics in the U.S., but the series has not been available to most TV viewers. Now that Netflix is streaming three seasons of Borgen, Ed McNulty offers his own strong praise for these nearly 30 hours of exceptional TV. And, Ed adds some thought-provoking questions to consider as you begin to watch the series.
  6. THE CIRCLE—This week, Ed also reaches back across the years to recommend another important film (in this case from 2000). He writes, “Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s movie begins and ends with a woman peering through a small window with a sliding panel as they seek information from someone in authority. Hence the title refers to a metaphorical circle … of women struggling to survive.”
  7. RESIDUEMerawi Gerima’s debut film explores the complex costs of gentrification—in this case, in Washington DC. Ed compares it to the other 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
  8. RUBY BRIDGES—Ed writes, “Ruby Bridges tells the story of how a six-year old Black girl integrated a New Orleans segregated school in 1960. … Not expecting a whole lot of it because it was a Disney film, it turned out to soar way beyond my expectations.”
  9. ALL IN—THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY—Ed writes, “Directors Lisa Cortes’ and Liz Garbus’s well-produced documentary could not be more timely, coming out just a month or so before the 2020 national elections.
  10. BY THE GRACE OF GOD, originally Grâce à Dieu—”Francois Ozon’s rivetting drama joins two other excellent films—Our Fathers and Spotlight—that personalize the issue of the abuse of boys by priests and its cover-up. The script, written by the director, is based on the real lives of three men abused as boys by Father Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley).”

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