Cover Story: We’ve been leading the wave encouraging congregations to welcome LGBTQ friends

For Pride Month 2024, we’ve got a colorful array of books to encourage inclusion

OUR COVER STORY THIS WEEK is designed so that our thousands of readers concerned with inclusion can share the link—and the accompanying video and book list—with family and friends. We’ve heard from many of you over the years that books like Changing Our Mind and Letter to My Congregation have helped thousands of families—especially those involved in the lives of their congregations—to “love their children more,” as Dr. David Gushee puts it in his talks about Christian inclusion.

Please, take a moment to read our Pride Month Cover Story, and think about who you know who might welcome a link to this story. Consider posting a link to this story on social media or, if you prefer, send a link through email. (There are convenient social-media sharing buttons with the Cover Story.) That simple act of sharing this news might wind up helping a divided family through the long process of reconnecting with separated loved ones.

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June also is ‘Cancer Survivors Month’

Spread this Good News, too

OUR RESIDENT EXPERT ON CANCER SURVIVAL, of course, is Howard Brown—author of Shining Brightly and an internationally known activist on behalf of cancer patients. He’s a two-time survivor of advanced stage IV cancer himself. Coming on Wednesday this week to mark National Cancer Survivors Month—Howard is welcoming the “Iron Dad,” aka Paul Weigel, to Howard’s popular weekly podcast. Paul is an 11-year survivor of cancer and is nationally known for his motivational speaking and programs in which he talks about the role of Iron Man competitions as one of his sources of personal resilience. Please, visit Howard’s website—ShiningBrightly.com—and check out both Howard’s memoir as well as (on Wednesday) the new podcast with Paul Weigel. These are great resources to share with friends (and their families) who are wrestling with the challenges of cancer.

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Shavuot

THIS ANCIENT JEWISH FESTIVAL honors God’s gift of wisdom in the Torah. In Israel, it’s celebrated for one day; in the rest of the world—for two days.

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Muslim families focus on pilgrims making the Hajj

AROUND THE WORLD, this week, Muslim families will be focused on friends and loved ones making the pilgrimage known as The Hajj. Stephanie Fenton has our story.

For an inspiring personal story about this remarkable journey made by millions of Muslims over the centuries, read Victor Begg’s memoir, Our Muslim Neighbors, which is available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle versions.

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Are you ready for Father’s Day?

CHECK OUT STEPHANIE FENTON’s Father’s Day column, which includes links to some delicious holiday recipes as well as tips for enjoying this family celebration.

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WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

 


And Other Important News—

Clicking on this photo of young women forced to live in a “boarding school” in Alaska will take you to one of our own recent ReadTheSpirit stories about Native American issues.

More Journalists Are Reporting on the Historic Horrors of Native American ‘Boarding Schools’

OUR OWN COMMUNITY OF WRITERS has been reporting on the challenges and the cultural riches of Native American life for years. Then—over the past couple of years—North American church and government officials have begun public inquiries into the historic horrors of so-called “Indian Boarding Schools.” This was a long campaign to force indigenous children to live in schools where they were brutally made to abandon their Native culture.

Click on the photo above to read one of our own widely shared stories about related issues.

We’re also sharing this news item, this week, to let our readers know about two major reports from the staff of The Washington Post. These are in-depth, “interactive” online reports that all Americans should see. The two are headlined:

First of two reports from The Washington Post: They took the children—The hidden legacy of Indian boarding schools in the United States

And, second: ‘In the Name of God’

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Nope! AI is not ready for covering the complexity of religious diversity.

HAVE YOU HEARD THE STORY OF THE “AI PRIEST” who crashed and burned within two days of debuting on the Internet? Turns out, AI still is not The Ultimate Source of Truth. Our Front Edge Publishing column, this week, shares this story of the now-infamous “Father Justin.” Special thanks in this case to our friends at National Catholic Reporter and Bill Tammeus.

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Click on this image to learn more about the June 2024 issue of Visual Parables Journal, packed with film reviews and discussion questions about movies, including The Old Oak, Nowhere Special, Back to Black, the Ascent and more.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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Cover Story:Christa Brown’s ‘Baptistland’ is a prophetic call for justice far beyond Baptist boundaries

‘The Fallout from this is Enormous’

THIS WEEK’S ReadTheSpirit Cover Story is as timely as the latest research showing that—for the first time—young women in the Gen Z generation are leading the exodus from churches. That startling news broke recently (and we have a link to it in this cover story). Why is this happening? One of the best books to explain that historic shift is Christa Brown’s Baptistland. Within the “male-dominated realm” of the Southern Baptist Convention, she has been a leading advocate calling for justice after many decades of concealing the sexual abuse of women and children within these conservative Baptist congregations and families.

This is an important story and, if you agree, please share it with friends via social media and email this week. Christa’s memoir is an empowering story of survival and, ultimately, finding strength and hope.

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From our writers—

Suzy Farbman:

Planning a party to showcase a Detroit gem

GodSigns author Suzy Farbman used the occasion of her 80th birthday to bring friends and family into one of Detroit’s artistic gems: the Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit (MMODD). Have you visited? Her column includes a link to find out more about MMODD.

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Jeffrey Munroe:

Is change possible?

THE QUOTE, etched in stone, is from the Columbine Memorial to all those killed and injured in the 1999 attack in Colorado. Author and journalist Jeffrey Munroe shares a column with us, this week, asking us to ponder whether we have—as a nation—learned much in the wake of such traumas. Click here or on the photo to visit Jeff’s Reformed Journal magazine, where he posted this column.

Jeff has become a nationally known voice of encouragement for the millions of Americans who are living with the legacy of trauma—in many forms—because he has explored many different approaches to coping with trauma in his own new book, Telling Stories in the Dark.

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Holidays & Festivals

Sacred Heart of Jesus

THIS CATHOLIC TRADITION originated centuries ago to encourage the faithful to focus on Jesus’s love, writes Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton.

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Shavuot

THIS ANCIENT JEWISH FESTIVAL honors God’s gift of wisdom in the Torah. In Israel, it’s celebrated for one day; in the rest of the world—for two days.

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WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

 

 


Faith & Film

Click on this movie poster to read Ed McNulty’s review of the 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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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Have a meaningful Memorial Day weekend! Consider these tips for conversations.

MSU’s Bias Busters project encourages conversations with our millions of veterans.

AND BIAS BUSTERS FOUNDER Joe Grimm writes, for the Memorial Day weekend, about how to start such conversations.

THEN—HOLIDAYS columnist Stephanie Fenton explains more about the history and customs surrounding Memorial Day.

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

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And good news from our writers—Suzy Farbman:

On turning 80 and considering the potential that lies ahead

 

AND WE ALL ARE CHEERING: “Happy birthday Suzy!” This week, our GodSigns columnist and life-long journalist Suzy Farbman sums up the guiding wisdom that she cherishes as she steps into her 80s.

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Faith & Film

Click on this movie poster to read Ed McNulty’s review of this wonderful, new Ken Loach 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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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Cover Story: Why the Korean translation of David Gushee’s Changing Our Mind is So Important

Do you know how deeply Christian roots run in Asian cultures?

OUR COVER STORY THIS WEEK looks at why the new Korean-language version of Dr. David Gushee’s best-selling Changing Our Mind is so important for millions of Americans—and Christians in South Korea as well. The depth of Christianity in Asia may surprise you!

Please, if you are intrigued by this cover story, share it with friends via social media or email. That simple act is a way to spread more of the inspiring news we provide each week into our troubled world.

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More good news from our writers—

Another generation is steps up into community leadership

GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the bar mitzvah of her grandson—and the moving milestone this represents of generations moving into community leadership.

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George A. Mason’s ‘Good God’

Conversations about healing America’s deep divides

IF YOU HAVE NOT DISCOVERED George Mason’s Good God podcast—then this truly is good news for you. Just as he did in his decades preaching from one of the nation’s most prominent pulpits—now, post-“retirement,” George is involved in national conversations about the values that should undergird our nation’s future. Follow this link to the Good God website and you will find three recent podcasts with these headlines:

  • Brian Kaylor: The Surprising Origin Story of Christian Nationalism
  • Courageous Conversations; Sandy Ovalle Martinez on Responding to Social Injustice with Courage
  • Courageous Conversations: Father Michael Lapsley on a Pathway to Wholeness and the Spiritual Wound of Racism

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Jeffrey Munroe

‘This Table Hosts a Feast’

WE’VE BEEN TALKING WITH READERS for months about the inspiring power of Jeffrey Munroe’s new book, Telling Stories in the Dark. Now, there’s an eloquent new review of Jeff’s book by Oakland, California, pastor Beth Carroll that wonderfully sums up the book’s unique value for readers. Beth writes about the book, “This table hosts a feast–a feast where all are fed and drink of the same cup–where no one is alone because all are included.”

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Howard Brown—

He’s waaaay past 100,000 now

JUST LAST WEEK, we published this cover story about Howard Brown sailing past the 100,000-downloads milestone with his weekly podcast. Well, he’s drawing such a nationwide audience now that he’s already at 120,000 downloads this week. One reason his audience is growing is that Howard features authentic experts on a wide range of issues related to finding hope, health and resilience.

This week, he’s featuring nationally known expert in conflict resolution Amy Armstrong. Here’s her online bio if you don’t immediately recognize her name. To listen to Howard’s half-hour conversation with Amy, visit his ShiningBrightly.com homepage and enjoy this week’s episode No. 79, which is at the top of the podcast list.

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Holidays & Festivals

Vesak

HOLIDAYS EXPERT STPEHANIE FENTON writes that, on Thursday: “Lanterns glow in Buddhist communities worldwide, as the collective birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha is observed: it is the holiday known as Vesak.”

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Planning ahead for Memorial Day

PLANNING FAMILY TIME? Stephanie Fenton writes: “The unofficial start of summer in America began, less than two centuries ago, as a solemn observance for the war that had consumed more lives than any other U.S. conflict. While memorial services still abound, the national holiday also means picnics, beaches, fireworks and, of course, travel, as Americans enjoy a three-day weekend.”

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WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

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Click on this poster image for the PBS American Experience film Nazi Town, USA, to read Ed McNulty’s review.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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Cover Story: Celebrating with Howard Brown—a podcast host who delivers sunshine and inspiration week after week

More than 100,000 listeners have enjoyed Howard’s half-hour dose of hope and resilience

This week, we’re sharing 6 fan-favorite episodes

COVER STORY—Howard Brown begins this week’s Cover Story with the words: “This celebration isn’t about me—it’s about the more than 100,000 times people have chosen to listen to these stories of hope and resilience. Editor David Crumm invited me to write this column because we want to celebrate the lives this podcast has touched—perhaps yours. … If you’re hearing about my weekly Shining Brightly podcast for the first time—then I’m sharing six samples that will welcome you into our nationwide community of listeners.”

Please enjoy our audio-packed Cover Story this week and, if you enjoy it, take a moment to share a link to that story with friends. As more than 100,000 can attest: They’ll be glad you shared the link.

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More inspiring news, this week—

Laura Elizabeth is taking us back to her island off the Atlantic coast

IN OUR FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING COLUMN, this week, we share the big news that cozy mystery writer Laura Elizabeth has a second Island Mysteries novel in the works. And, we’re giving you an easy link to keep in touch with Laura, so you won’t miss the launch.

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MSU School of Journalism Bias Busters

How might key religious groups shape the upcoming election?

MSU BIAS BUSTERS PROFESSOR JOE GRIMM draws on information from two of the Bias Busters guidebooks as he looks at how key religious groups might shape the upcoming election.

One column is headlined: Do evangelical Christians support Biden or Trump? Yes.

A second column is headlined: Could religiously unaffiliated “nones” swing this election?

THANKS TO THE BIAS BUSTERS for all of their hard work in researching and producing more than 20 books to help combat bias with “100 Questions & Answers” about a wide range of minorities in our communities. They like to say, “We’re answering the questions everybody’s asking but nobody’s answering.” You can see the entire MSU series of books here.
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‘Young Life’ Recommends Jeffrey Munroe’s ‘Telling Stories in the Dark’

ALL OF US AT ReadTheSpirit magazine are honored that the nationwide Young Life ministry network recommended the new book by Jeffrey Munroe, Editor of the Reformed Journal and earlier in his career a Young Life leader. Why is Jeff’s new book so valuable? Because, Young Life’s column says, “Through these stories, Munroe illuminates the transformative power of faith amidst adversity, offering profound insights into the human experience and the enduring hope found in Christ.” To read this entire column about Jeff and his new book, click here to visit the Young Life website.

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What we can learn about embracing our ever-changing world from the Cherokee

THIS WEEK, Editor David Crumm has posted a review in Goodreads, highly recommending a new University of California press book, The People of Kituwah. In recent years, our online magazine has published dozens of stories about the wisdom all of us can find in exploring the Native American traditions that form a spiritual tapestry across our continent. If you find this review helpful, please share a link to it with friends.

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And from a half dozen of our authors

Resources to help your congregation welcome LGBTQ+ friends

OUR MAY 6 COVER STORY was inspired by the historic news that America’s third largest Christian denomination—the United Methodist Church—has reversed more than half a century of LGBTQ+ exclusion. And now—the challenge voiced by United Methodist bishops, pastors and lay leaders nationwide is—”Welcoming all people into the embrace of God.” If you missed it last week, please enjoy that helpful story, which begins with some of the best news headlines about this historic milestone—then offers an inspiring video introduction to a wide array of authors. And, if you are inspired, take a moment to share this cover story with friends this week via social media and email. Together, we can help to expand the compassionate circle in communities nationwide.

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Holidays & Festivals

If you see flames this Sunday—

It’s likely a Pentecost celebration

FLAMES AND RED VESTMENTS are common at Pentecost, a Christian celebration of “the birthday of the church.” Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton has the story for us.

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WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

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Click this movie poster to read Ed’s review of “The Fall Guy.”

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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COVER STORY: Our authors are ready to help 20,000-plus United Methodist congregations welcoming LGBTQ+ members

Bishops, clergy, lay leaders call for welcoming LGBTQ+ neighbors

Authors, scholars, journalists are ready to help

OUR COVER STORY THIS WEEK starts with the historic news that America’s third largest Christian denomination—the United Methodist Church—has reversed more than half a century of LGBTQ+ exclusion. And now—the challenge voiced by United Methodist bishops, pastors and lay leaders nationwide is: “Welcoming all people into the embrace of God.”

Please enjoy our cover story, which begins with some of the best news headlines from the past week—then offers an inspiring video introduction to a wide array of authors.

And, if you are inspired, take a moment to share this cover story with friends this week via social media and email. Together, we can help to expand the compassionate circle in communities nationwide.

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And also from our writers—

Clicking on this cover image will take you to the Amazon page for Jeffrey Munroe’s book, “Telling Stories in the Dark,” which features Roger Nelson’s story.

Jeffrey Munroe:

A Story of a Church Still Struggling

WHILE OUR PUBLISHING HOUSE is celebrating the United Methodist journey toward inclusion, this week, some Christian denominations remain deeply divided over gender and sexual orientation. Our author Jeffrey Munroe—who heads up the historic Reformed Journal online magazine—has just published such a story by Roger Nelson. Jeff explains, “Roger’s remarkable story of resilience after witnessing his father’s murder appears in my book. For more than two decades, Roger has been a pastor who has compassionately led his congregation through divisions around human sexuality. Now, Roger writes for our Reformed Journal about facing a threat of expulsion from his denomination.”

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George A. Mason:

‘Spend it all now!’

ONE OF THE NATION’S LEADING PREACHERS, George A. Mason wrote this brief column to encourage his fellow writers—urging all of us who write to use our best ideas now. George’s memorable little column encouraging our ongoing flow of ideas, as writers, appears in our Front Edge Publishing blog, this week.

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Holidays & Festivals

 

Are you ready for Mother’s Day?

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton reports in her column, this week, that Mother’s Day continues to draw the largest church attendance of the year after Christmas and Easter.

And, Ascension Day is this week, too

STEPHANIE FENTON has this holiday story, as well. Did you know that this is one of the oldest Christian traditions? Each year, the Feast of the Ascension takes place on the 40th day after Easter.

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WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

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In honor of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day (May 5-6 in 2024), our film critic Ed McNulty reaches back to 1970 and suggests that people watch “The Only Way,” about how Danes risked their lives to help save thousands of Jews during World War II.

 

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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Cover Story: Andrea Longton emerges as an important new voice in the national conversation encouraging Social Justice Investing

What is the greatest good we can do in this world?

OUR COVER STORY THIS WEEK introduces an important voice in the national conversation about Social Justice Investing: Andrea Longton—a nationally respected expert in this growing field of finance that encourages people to exercise their spiritual and ethical values while investing their money.

This is such an important area of interest for our long-time ReadTheSpirit readers that we providing two perspectives on Andrea’s work in this week’s Cover Story:

First, this is a Q-and-A with Andrea, interviewed by David Crumm with links to Andrea’s book and some of her free online resources, as well.

Then, in this second story, financial expert and author Jonathan Grimm adds his perspective on Andrea’s new book.

Please, if these stories interest you, share them with friends via social media and email. Andrea is bringing us some good news that’s needed in our world, today.

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Holidays & Festivals

Happy Easter to our Eastern Christian Neighbors

SUNDAY, MAY 5 is Easter—or Great and Holy Pascha—for Eastern Orthodox Christians this year. You may think that Easter came and went a month ago—but millions of families around the world are just getting ready this week to celebrate the most important festival of the Christian year.

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WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

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And more news—

Mindy Corporon engaging in a national conversation about confronting hatred

As a publishing house, we often talk about our authors “engaging in a national conversation” as one of the primary reasons to do all the hard work of writing, editing and publishing a book. Quite simply: We want to make our world a better place with the creative and compassionate ideas we are sharing.

One author who has accomplished that, despite the trauma that transformed her life a decade ago, is Mindy Corporon. This column illustrates the many way that “national conversation” is taking place around us.

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Click on this poster to read Ed McNulty’s review of the film.

 

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

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