Cover Story: Celebrating our July 4 Independence Day with the best of America!

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Join the national shouting match …
or these conversations …

AS AMERICA APPROACHES JULY 4, this year, the home office of our online magazine is awash in deeply felt emails from our readers and writers concerned about the future of our nation. Particularly, we are hearing deep concern about the revelations of extremist groups’ involvement in the “January 6” attacks. We’re hearing about new Supreme Court decisions limiting laws that control guns and slashing the government’s power to control pollution and slow climate change. Of course, the high court also threw our whole nation into years of bitter state-by-state legal disputes over abortion. “It feels like our experiment with democracy is falling apart—pitting Americans against one another in ways we haven’t seen since before the Civil War,” one reader wrote.

Well, we can’t resolve all of the issues raised over the last month in the pages of this online magazine. However, what we can do is underline our 2007 founding motto: “Good media builds healthy communities.” We are journalists—reporting true stories that remind us of our better angels.

TO MARK JULY 4, this year, we are publishing this special issue of Read The Spirit magazine, inviting you to step back with us to 2010 when we presented a 40-day, 9,000-mile exploration of America.

There are two ways to enjoy this adventure

START WITH OUR FIRST COLUMN from July 28, 2010, then simply keep using the “next post” links at the top right of each column to continue reading every story in the series. By the end of the adventure, you will have circled our nation, discovering inspiring true stories from families coast to coast. If you’ve got some “reading time” over this long weekend, this is a great opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the best of our nation.

OR, TO SEE JUST A HALF DOZEN HIGHLIGHTS from the 40-story series, here’s a recap we published that showcases some of the most popular columns in the entire 40-day adventure.

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Holidays & Festivals

Fourth of July

The crowds are back!

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS COLUMNIST Stephanie Fenton reports: “After two years of socially distanced Independence Day celebrations, festivities appear to be ramping up this year, with crowds expected to line streets for parades; the scent of barbecue drawing family and friends; and, finally, fireworks lighting up the night sky.” Read her entire column, which includes links to recipes, DIY holiday party tips and even some recommended movies.

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The Hajj

And speaking of crowds …

THE ANNUAL MUSLIM PILGRIMAGE is coming soon. Stephanie writes, “Arriving via every mode of transportation available and from countries that span the globe, this annual Islamic pilgrimage is widely considered the largest annual gathering in the world.”

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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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From Our Authors—

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John Harnish

An ‘Amazing’ E. Stanley Jones Podcast

THIS WEEK JAMES HOWELL features John Harnish on his Maybe I’m Amazed podcast to talk about the “amazing” career of E. Stanley Jones–an American Christian pioneer who journeyed to India a century ago and who recognized Gandhi as a kindred spirit. As Howell says in his introduction to this conversation: Whatever your faith background may be, learning about Jones’s life and message reminds us of the potential hope in our troubled world. If you are interested in reading Harnish’s book yourself, hop over to Amazon and get a copy of 30 Days with E. Stanley Jones.

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Larry Buxton

‘Happy 4th of July!’

AND IN KEEPING WITH OUR HOLIDAY THEME, Larry Buxton’s Leading with Spirit video this week is about his ancestor who was part of the American Revolution. “My having become an official son of the American Revolution, this year, helps me appreciate the courage of these barely known patriots,” Larry says. Then, he talks about another current “patriot” whose identity may surprise you. Please, click over to Larry’s short video and listen to what he has to say this week. You’ll be glad you did.

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Click this movie poster to read Ed McNulty’s review of the new ELVIS movie.

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.

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

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Cover Story: How can I write my own Cozy Mystery?

These mysteries prove that ordinary folks can make a difference!

COVER STORY: After years of encouraging authors to consider the cozy mystery genre, our publishing house is planning to launch our first book in this genre in 2023. So, we thought we would open up the invitation to the entire readership of our online magazine. Yes, even you—you reading these words right now—could plan and write such a tale. In our Cover Story this week, we explain the Cozy Mystery genre and offer some tips for first-time mystery writers just like—you. Please, enjoy this story and share it with friends via social media and email. Who knows which friend just might have a vocation to spin such a yarn?

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From Our Authors—

Suzy Farbman

An entire community contributes to producing a golf pioneer’s story

SOON, the movie Playing Though will begin making its way through theaters across the U.S.—telling the inspiring story of ground-breaking athlete Ann Gregory’s remarkable success in the privileged world of golf. Suzy Farbman’s tells us the story about how an entire community found ways to contribute to making this feature film possible.

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Howard Brown

Visit his website and get a pair of sunglasses!

COMING SOON TO AMAZON is our newest book: Howard Brown’s hope-filled memoir of resilience and community-building called Shining Brightly. Stay tuned for the start of the “pre-sale” ordering period for that remarkable book. MEANWHILE, Howard already is part of many national conversations about the core themes in his new book. For a sample of his message: Visit YouTube to see his talk at the national Kindness and Gratitude conference through June 25. Even more importantly, if you have not yet visited Howard’s new online home—ShiningBrightly.com—please visit that website right now. Howard just posted a special greeting to newcomers, offering to send you a pair of his trademark Shining Brightly sunglasses if you’ll sign up for his free email updates. They’re fun to wear! Go on! Get your glasses.

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Bill Tammeus

And for another word of hope …

After a traumatic week of news events, we can count on veteran religion journalist Bill Tammeus to offer helpful context and constructive ideas. And that’s precisely what Bill has written in two columns we highly recommend. Here are his headlines:

Thank you Bill for your wisdom and thoughtful reporting! (Want a true “gift” from Bill as well? Jump over to Amazon, buy a copy of his Love, Loss and Endurance—and you’ll find that his thoughtful storytelling in that memoir is also an inspiring “gift” to us all.)

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Larry Buxton

Leading with Spirit also involves—Following

FAR TOO OFTEN, we’re so eager to have our voices heard and our preferences dominate that our quest for authentic “leadership” becomes a selfish desire, leadership expert Larry Buxton warns us in this week’s short Leading with Spirit video. Please, go enjoy this short message from Larry and you may find you want to share this particularly thought-provoking message with friends.

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Holidays & Festivals

Fourth of July

The crowds are back!

HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS COLUMNIST Stephanie Fenton reports: “After two years of socially distanced Independence Day celebrations, festivities appear to be ramping up this year, with crowds expected to line streets for parades; the scent of barbecue drawing family and friends; and, finally, fireworks lighting up the night sky.” Read her entire column, which includes links to recipes, DIY holiday party tips and even some recommended movies.

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The Hajj

And speaking of crowds …

THE ANNUAL MUSLIM PILGRIMAGE is coming soon. Stephanie writes, “Arriving via every mode of transportation available and from countries that span the globe, this annual Islamic pilgrimage is widely considered the largest annual gathering in the world.”

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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 image from the movie to read Ed McNulty’s review of Lightyear.

Faith & Film

Click on this cover image to learn more about the June 2022 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.

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

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COVER STORY: Brian McLaren asks ‘Do I Stay Christian?’ Then, he explains why that question is so urgent in our world.

 

The 11 Splinters of the Christian Brand—
And Why Brian’s Book Ends with Hope

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MILLIONS OF “CHRISTIANS” are heading to the exits of their churches until more than 1 in 4 Americans now answer “none” when they are asked by pollsters to name their religious affiliation. Their reasons for leaving vary widely, but the experience nearly always is marked by regret and often by anger. This week, we welcome best-selling Christian author Brian McLaren for an interview about his new book that asks the question so many are asking: Should I Stay Christian? Brian’s book is both a fresh and insightful analysis of why Christianity is splintering—and an inspiring overview of why millions are choosing to remain. Please, enjoy this cover story that ultimately is marked by Brian’s relentless hope—and share this column with friends via social media or email.

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From Our Authors—

Bill Tammeus

And on a related note …

THREE OF OUR REGULAR COLUMNISTS have posted thoughtful commentaries this week that are related to Brian McLaren’s analysis of the crisis within Christianity. First, there’s veteran religion journalist Bill Tammeus with two columns about global spiritual challenges:

Then, also related to the theme of Christian conflict, this week, we have this thought-provoking column from Dr. David Gushee …

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David Gushee

Is the Far Right in America ‘Fascist’?

IN HIS BAPTIST NEWS GLOBAL column this week, best-selling Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee addresses a question we are hearing frequently these days: Is the term “Fascist” accurate when describing America’s Far Right? Dr. Gushee’s approach to finding an answer to this question is very much in keeping with his principles as a scholar. In his column, he asks: “Is it possible for scholars to help us answer this question analytically rather than emotionally?” If you would like to learn more about Gushee’s approach to analyzing controversial contemporary issues, please read his book Introducing Christian Ethics: Core Convictions for Christians Today.

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Lucille Sider

‘You teach me how to be when I grow up.’

THEN, YES, LUCILLE’S CAREGIVING column, this week, also relates to themes found especially in the second half of Brian McLaren’s new book in passages such as Chapter 21: Include and Transcend. As if embodying some of the principles McLaren summarizes in that chapter, Lucille’s column describes how she moved from serving as a pastor for seniors to serving as a senior herself. Please, enjoy and share this column with friends.

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Holidays & Festivals

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on this second year that Juneteenth is an official national holiday across the U.S.

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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 photo to read Ed McNulty’s review of the documentary The Book Keepers.

Faith & Film

Click on this cover image to learn more about the June 2022 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.

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

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Cover Story: Feeding mind, body and spirit by ‘falling love with cooking again’

Rediscover Creative Connections in the ‘Totality of Cooking’

COVER STORY—”The simple acts of preparing and eating fresh produce not only make us healthier, but also strengthen the social bonds that bind our families and our communities together. If that seems like a lot to swallow, chew on this: By almost any measure, Americans are some of the unhealthiest people on the planet.” Those are words from our Contributing Columnist and author Martin Davis, who is spreading this message of simplified, healthy eating far and wide this summer. We appreciate that Marty has written this special column for our Read the Spirit magazine. Please enjoy this cover story and share it with friends via social media and email.

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Holidays & Festivals

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the second year that Juneteenth will be an official national holiday across the U.S.

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Father’s Day 1:

An all-too-true story

‘I’M ONLY A FATHER!’ Sound familiar? In this year’s Father’s Day column, by author Benjamin Pratt, he asks all of us whether we’ve ever heard (or said) something like that—humbly expressing the human limits within our families. Please, enjoy Benjamin’s column and share it with friends as the holiday approaches on June 19.

Father’s Day 2:

Consider these ‘best books for Father’s Day’

SUSAN STITT’S FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING COLUMN, this week, highlights great gifts you can have in your father’s hands this week—inspiring books about sports, leadership, peacemaking and military history.

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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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From our Writers 

Jack Harnish

A Global Award in Christian Outreach

THE AUTHOR of our new 30 Days with E. Stanley Jones is honored with a global award in Christian outreach. We’ve got the story.

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Larry Buxton

True Courage May Require Restraint

THIS WEEK’S Leading with Spirit video by leadership coach Larry Buxton may surprise you! “Courage is acting wisely against your instincts for a higher good,” Larry says. “Courage often requires doing that thing you don’t want to do because you know it’s the right thing.” And, Larry says, that courageous choice just might involve restraint! Please, visit Larry’s site for this inspiring 4-minute video that you’ll want to share with friends.

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Bill Tammeus

Still Trying to Break that Stained Glass Ceiling

JOURNALIST and AUTHOR BILL TAMMEUS reports this week on the still-standing stained-glass ceilings in major churches—more than half a century after mainline denominations began ordaining women like the Rev. Margaret Towner (shown in this photo). As always, if you care about this issue, Bill includes fascinating links for further reading in his column.

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Elaine Greenberg

On ‘Guide for Grief’

REGULAR READERS of our online magazine will remember a recent story in which the remarkable musician and educator Elaine Greenberg asked us for help in recommending books that can help with grief. Well, as a result of that conversation, Elaine began reading some of our books and now is sending us columns reflecting on what those books mean to her. This week, she writes about Rodger Murchison’s Guide for Grief.

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Click on this photo to read Ed McNulty’s review of Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands.

Faith & Film

Click on this cover image to learn more about the June 2022 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.

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

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Cover Story: Suzy Farbman celebrates creative life that sprang from Detroit’s First Generation Cass Corridor Artists

‘How we welcomed Detroit’s first avant-garde art movement into our home’

THAT’S THE STORY WITHIN a lavishly illustrated new book by our God-Signs columnist Suzy Farbman. Her new memoir, told through personal stories and hundreds of color photographs, tells how her family quite literally welcomed the visions of Detroit’s First Generation Cass Corridor artists into their home. Over many years, that creative commitment also led the Farbmans to welcome many more artworks from around the world.

As Suzy herself explains on the back cover of her book:
“Over many years as a design editor, I featured other peoples’ beautiful homes. When I finally had the chance to create my own, I wanted a house imbued with heart and soul. As a grandniece of world-famous architect Albert Kahn, cousin of legendary art collector Lydia Winston Malbin, and granddaughter of antiques collector Deborah Wilkus, I inherited a love for art, design and antiques.”

Our readers who have followed Suzy’s hundreds of columns in our Read the Spirit magazine know all about Suzy’s long career as a journalist and her love of showcasing inspiring true stories for all of us to enjoy. Now, she’s welcoming readers into her home through this new book, called Detroit’s Cass Corridor and Beyond: Adventures of an Art Collector. Please enjoy this cover story in which Suzy introduces this major new book showcasing her beloved Detroit—and share it with friends via social media and email.

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From our Writers 

Larry Buxton

On the Power of Awe and Wonder

THIS WEEK’S Leading with Spirit video by leadership coach Larry Buxton explores the power of awe and wonder to promote resilience and compassion in our lives. “The experience of awe somehow brings us closer to each other,” he says—speaking to us from the woods this week. This is an inspiring little video to share with friends. Please use social media or email to do so after you’ve enjoyed Larry’s thought-provoking message.

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Elaine Greenberg

On ‘Never Long Enough’

REGULAR READERS of our online magazine will remember a recent story in which the remarkable musician and educator Elaine Greenberg asked us for help in recommending books that can help with grief. Well, as a result of that conversation, Elaine began reading some of our books and now is sending us columns reflecting on what those books mean to her as she recalls the passing of her beloved husband Shelly. If you missed the start of this story, we’ve provided a convenient link to it at the top of Elaine’s column, which is headlined: Finding comfort and hope in the pages of ‘Never Long Enough.

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Bill Tammeus

On Southern Baptist Blindness

“How could a church in 2022 be so blind about sexual abuse?” That’s the question Americans have been asking since the release of a Southern Baptist Convention report about the nationwide pattern of abuse that SBC leaders actively tried to suppress for many years. “But what went wrong in the SBC—just as what went wrong in the Catholic priests/bishops abuse scandal—can’t be fixed with an apology and some governance tweaks. The issue is much deeper than that … We need outside eyes to help us and we need a willingness to listen to what others are saying about what they recognize is deformed,” writes journalist Bill Tammeus. As always, Bill has provided us with a thoughtful news-analysis that also includes links to learn more about this crisis. Thanks Bill for your reporting!

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Paper shortages affect everything from books to toilet paper

THIS WEEK’S Front Edge Publishing column looks at the global paper shortage that is affecting the cost of everything from newspapers and books to the tissues we use everyday.

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Holidays & Festivals

Trinity Sunday

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton describes the centuries-old Christian tradition of honoring the Trinity, coming up this year on Sunday June 12.

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And, Remembering D-Day, June 6, 1945

FAITH & FILM columnist Ed McNulty marks the anniversary of World War II milestone D-Day, this year, by recommending a moving documentary film: Sunken Roads—Three Generations after D-DayIf you want to recall D-Day this week, that film can be rented for for home streaming for $2.99 via Amazon.

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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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Faith & Film

CLICK ON THIS IMAGE to learn more about the June 2022 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, which is packed with complete discussion guides for movies including Emergency, Top Gun—Maverick, Downton Abbey—A New Era, The Survivor, The Grey Zone and more.

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:

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Cover Story: Yale historian David Blight helps us to remember, ‘African Americans invented Memorial Day’

‘This was the first Memorial Day.’

COVER STORY: Given the racial trauma that continues to roil our American landscape, we believe it is important to cover Pulitzer-Prize-winning Yale historian David Blight’s ongoing campaign to correct our history books and give credit to newly freed African Americans for establishing our post-Civil War tradition known to us now as Memorial Day. Please read our cover story, which describe’s Blight’s research and gives linked examples of many ways our historical record is being corrected. And, please, share this timely story with friends via social media and email.

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Why Books Matter in a Turbulent World

Our Books Powerfully Shape our Lives

THE GREEN DEDICATION, shown above, marks a special edition of book for caregivers in our communities. This Front Edge Publishing column by Dmitri Barvinok explains how that special edition of this book was designed—and why books are so memorable and influential in our lives.

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A Family Whose Story Circles the World

SUZY FARBMAN’s GOD-SIGNS columns are always a ray of sunshine and that’s certainly true in mid-May. This week, she shares the second half of her two-part column about a family whose adventures have circled the world.

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Remembering those we lost

EVERY WEEK, we hear from our writers and our readers about timely links they hope we will share with readers in our next weekly issue of this online magazine. Of course, this week, our “inbox” was filled with reflections on the massacre in Texas and the subsequent National Rifle Association repudiation of any new gun-control measures. We’ve decided to share two reflections that our readers have recommended …

FIRST—An impassioned column by Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee, which echoes the moral outrage expressed by many of our other writers and many of our readers, this week.

AND—Many of our readers follow the ongoing work of contemporary hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, who makes her work available to congregations nationwide. Currently, the top four links of Carolyn’s website address resources for congregations wanting to reflect on the tragedy of gun violence.

FINALLY—Our Faith & Film writer Edward McNulty recommends that viewers watch the documentary 91% that focuses on the overwhelming American consensus that background checks should be required for gun sales. (Currently it can be rented for streaming via Amazon.)

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Click on this image to read Ed McNulty’s review of the documentary 91%.

Faith & Film

Click on this cover image to learn more about the May 2022 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal. This issue contains complete discussion guides for films, including: Eleni, Father Stu, The Northman and Firebird.

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:

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Cover Story: We may be grieving right now, but our spiritual wisdom calls us not to grieve alone

Five Best Books for Reaching Out in our Grief

COVER STORY: We listen to our readers. We listen to our writers. We listen to friends and family, too. And, over the past week, here is what I heard loud and clear: People are grieving. One reason is the horrific tragedy of the Buffalo supermarket shootings and the virulent hatred that attack once again unveiled in our midst.

Whatever is causing this season of grief—our Cover Story is not about sadness. It is about resilience. I am sharing the stories behind five inspiring books that can help you—and your co-workers, congregation and loved ones—find resilience in the midst of our grief. Please read this story and share it with others via social media and email.

And if you care to learn more: One of the authors featured in our Cover Story this week is Bill Wylie-Kellermann, whose family memoir Dying Well ranks among our five “best book” recommendations. Bill’s newest book is a tribute to the life and legacy of his friend—peace activist and theologian Daniel Berrigan. Among the latest praise for Bill’s new book is this review from The Christian Century headlined: An ode to Daniel Berrigan

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And Now For Something Completely Different …

WE ALSO heard about humor, this week, starting with this week’s Leading with Spirit video from author and leadership coach Larry Buxton. In this short video, Larry asks us: Should Leaders Be Funny?

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And, a Trip to the Islands

GOD SIGNS COLUMNIST SUZY FARBMAN is back this week with the first part of a two-part column about a remarkable family whose adventures span the U.S., the Atlantic and Caribbean.

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Holidays & Festivals

An ancient Christian celebration

TOWARD THE END OF MAY, Christians around the world will celebrate one of their faith’s ancient holidays: the Feast of the Ascension, known also as Ascension Day. Though no documents give testament to the feast’s existence prior to the 5th century, St. Augustine referred to it as a universal observance of Apostolic origin.
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And, 2 Baha’i holidays

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on two important Baha’i observances that fall in the second half of May this year: The Declaration of the Bab marks the anniversary of the Bab’s announcement of his mission, in 1844; the Ascension of Baha’u’llah recalls the passing of Baha’u’llah, in 1892.

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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 still to read Ed McNulty’s review of the new Downton Abbey film.

Faith & Film

Click on this cover image to learn more about the May 2022 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal. This issue contains complete discussion guides for films, including: Eleni, Father Stu, The Northman and Firebird.

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:

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