COVER STORY—’30 Days with King David on Leadership’ arrives with rare bipartisan support

Rediscovering Unity in Our Ancient Values

Leading Democrat and Republican both urge us to meet David, again

COVER STORY—In the midst of our deeply divided nation, an ancient voice is rising once again with wisdom that is drawing together Americans from across our political and cultural divides. That ancient voice comes from the life of King David—a world-class hero for defeating Goliath and also a beloved writer of Psalms that millions of us remember in daily prayer and Bible readings. The new book, 30 Days with King David on Leadership is written by Larry Buxton, whose professional career spans both Bible study and leadership consulting.

The proof of the bipartisan appeal of this new book is in its opening pages. Today, as the book appears on Amazon for pre-launch orders, we are publishing—as our ReadTheSpirit cover story—the remarkable Foreword and Preface to the book. These are remarkable because of the two political leaders who came together to write these two letters to readers.

HERE IS the Foreword by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine—a Democrat who represents Virginia, a state where he once served as governor. He also is a former vice presidential candidate. Kaine, like his Republican colleague Andrew Card, explains how deeply the Bible shapes his daily life and invites readers to return to that source of wisdom that can bring people together, once again.

THEN, HERE IS the Preface by Andrew Card—a Republican who has played many roles in industry and in education. During both Bush administrations, Card served in key posts, including as Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush. Card closes his Preface urging: “Read this book. You will have new context to help form and launch the leaders of character we so urgently need to send into our world today.”

See the movie, too!

AUTHOR, pastor, educator and leadership coach Larry Buxton also appears this week in a short video about this new book, created by our marketing director Susan Stitt. In our Front Edge Publishing column this week, you can enjoy seeing the King David video—and Susan explains how easy it is for anyone to create such inspiring videos.

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And, Speaking of Our Shared Sacred Values …

Calling Americans to ‘A Most Sacred Right’

ABRAHAM LINCOLN is the subject of the first volume in our 30 Days With series of books with a month’s worth of wisdom that all of us can share. In his weekly Quiet Fire series for public radio in Maine—as well as for the readers of ReadTheSpirit online magazine—Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer explores the wisdom that so valiantly struggled to lift up throughout his life. “Struggled” is an apt term, because—as Duncan explains in this week’s column—Lincoln often was reaching for sacred truths even when he was unable to see how powerfully they would grow throughout his life … and in the years beyond. Please, read Duncan’s column, this week, about Lincoln’s view of “a most sacred right” and share it with friends. These books and weekly stories—from Lincoln to King David—hold the rare potential of drawing together deeply divided Americans.

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Holidays & Festivals

Ganesh Chaturthi

One of the World’s Most Colorful Festivals Goes Online

IN INDIAN COMMUNITIES around the world, creative adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic are moving colorful Indian festivals online in elaborate new ways. Earlier this month, the observance of Raksha Bandhan—in which family bonds are symbolized by bracelets and gifts—was marked virtually in many families. However, in the second half of August, the heart and soul of Ganesha Chaturthi is public gatherings and processions. This year, many elements of those festivals will be streamed online. Stephanie Fenton has the story about the holiday and the need for creative adaptations this year.

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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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Click this historic photo to read Ed McNulty’s review of the documentary, “John Lewis: Get in the Way.”

FAITH & FILM 

Click on this image from the cover of the August 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal to learn more about this issue, which includes complete study guides to Hamilton, Greyhound, Clemency, The Resistance Banker 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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. JOHN LEWIS: GET IN THE WAY—Ed writes, “Director/writer Kathleen Dowdey does a fine job encapsulating John Lewis’s long life in its short running time of less than an hour.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  2. WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE? Ed gives this film 5 stars and writes: “Italian-born documentarian Roberto Minervini has added to my list of essential films for understanding racism. Clearly, he is fascinated with America’s South, because this is his fifth film shot in that region. His newest film is an impressionistic weaving together of four groups of Southern Blacks, including a Mardi Gras Indian tribe called the Flaming Arrows, a New Orleans bar owner who has fallen behind on her rent, and a beleaguered family of two brothers Ronaldo and Titus and their single-parent mother.”
  3. CLEMENCY—Ed writes, “Director/writer Chinonye Chukwu has given us a prison film unlike most anything you have seen, in that her focus is not on a condemned prisoner, but on the person in charge of the execution of prisoners, the warden.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  4. HIROSHIMA—Ed reaches back to 1995 to recommend this movie, writing: “This riveting account of the days leading up to and immediately following the atom bombing of two Japanese cities is a joint Canadian/Japanese production for the Showtime TV network.
  5. THE BROKEN CHAIN—And, from 1993, Ed recommends this movie co-starring Pierce Brosnan. “Director Lamont Johnson’s film gives us a different perspective on Native Americans and the American Revolution in this cable film about the Iroquois Confederacy.”
  6. RANGOON—”Director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Hindi film is set during WW 2, mostly in a Mumbai movie studio and at the Burmese border where British-led Indian troops are fighting the Japanese invaders.” (4 stars)
  7. HAMILTONEd gives 5 out of 5 stars to the film version of the award-winning Hamilton play.
  8. THE HALF OF IT—Ed writes, “If you are looking for a feel good movie that is also insightful, then director/writer Alice Wu has just the film for you. Centering on three high school seniors, this coming of age film stands far above most others about teenagers that I have seen.”
  9. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  10. THE RESISTANCE BANKER“Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)

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COVER STORY—A journey of faith: As I Lay Dying … in this pandemic

What Is Lost in Our Final Passages? Human Touch

And, what have we gained? Angels emerging among us

THIS WEEK’S ReadTheSpirit Cover Story by one of our most beloved columnists, Benjamin Pratt, marks our American milestone of 150,000 lives lost to this pandemic. In recent days, the death rate has risen to more than 1 American dying every minute of the day and night around the clock. How can we even begin to grasp the enormity of the loss?

As a master pastoral counselor and writer, Ben’s story this week honors the countless medical personnel who have stepped in at the end of life as virtual angels helping families to connect with their loved ones in those final moments. Please read this story and share it with friends.

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Books that Help in the Midst of Trauma and Grief

If you have lost a loved one, you already are telling your own family stories—perhaps about a kind nurse holding a smartphone in the ICU as your Mom or Dad, Grandpa or Grandma died.  At our publishing house, we are familiar with the challenges of caregiving and grief. Our publishing house’s writers, including Ben Pratt and many others, have been producing helpful books for many years. Please read Susan Stitt’s column about four helpful books, and share that with friends, as well.

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‘Answer the highest calling of your heart’

U.S. Rep. JOHN LEWIS’s FINAL LETTER TO AMERICA

‘STAND UP for what you truly believe,’ the late John Lewis wrote shortly before his death, asking that his last letter be published on the day of his memorial service. It was published in The New York Times, which has a paywall excluding most readers. The letter is in public domain and we are reproducing it this week so you can easily save it, print it if you wish—and share it with friends.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S COMMITMENT:
America’s future depends on our faith in elections.

THE QUIET FIRE SERIES turns, this week, to the election of 1864 in light of an outlandish proposal that Americans postpone the November election. Lincoln was crystal clear on his refusal to waver on the 1864 election—even though he expected that he was going to lose! The greater good was maintaining our faith in the American election system, he argued. This is a column you’ll want to share with friends this week.

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Holidays & Festivals

Rakhsa Bandhan

RENEWING FAMILY TIES IN A PANDEMIC

IN INDIAN COMMUNITIES around the world, Raksha Bandhan is usually one of the sweetest and most colorful holidays, each year. Traditionally, sisters would tie home-made bracelets around their brothers’ wrists to honor their relationships. Families would serve sweets; gifts were exchanged. Lots of relatives traveled on mass transit for these special gatherings. This year? Stephanie Fenton has the story about the holiday and the need for creative adaptations this year.

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AND SPEAKING OF INDIA …

MEET AN INDIAN RELIGION WRITER

OUR FRIEND IN ITALY, journalist Elisa Di Bendetto, just profiled Indian religion writer Priyadarshini Sen about the wide range of stories she is reporting these days from South Asia. Religion and politics are merging in new ways in India, which is dangerous to some of that nation’s many religious minorities. While navigating those turbulent waters, she also is finding inspiring stories about people whose faith leads them to help build healthier communities. Please, enjoy Elisa’s profile of this Indian journalist, which appears on the website of the International Association of Religion Journalists.

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And Speaking of Inspiring Journalists …

LISTEN TO MARTIN DAVIS on ‘MIND OF A COACH’

Love sports? Then, you probably would agree that there is a spiritual side to sports. Right now, our contributing columnist and veteran journalist Martin Davis is working on an entire book of stories about high school coaches nationwide—men and women, black and white, famous and unsung heroes alike. He recently appeared on the podcast Mind of a Coach with Zach Davis. If you like this idea, then you’ll enjoy hearing Martin and Zach talk.

Also, please remember that Martin is inviting readers to help with the development of this book project. Read that story right here.

This week, he is sharing with our online magazine readers one of the most moving stories he has discovered in his year of virtually crisscrossing America, looking for such transcendent true stories.

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CLICK ON THIS IMAGE from the new documentary “What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?” to read Ed’s entire 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 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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE? Ed gives 5 out of 5 stars and writes: “Italian-born documentarian Roberto Minervini has added to my list of essential films for understanding racism. Clearly, he is fascinated with America’s South, because this is his fifth film shot in that region. His newest film is an impressionistic weaving together of four groups of Southern Blacks, including a Mardi Gras Indian tribe called the Flaming Arrows, a New Orleans bar owner who has fallen behind on her rent, and a beleaguered family of two brothers Ronaldo and Titus and their single-parent mother.”
  2. EUROVISION SONG CONTESTThe Netflix comedy is escapist fare, but ultimately only deserves 3 stars, Ed says.
  3. CLEMENCY—Ed writes, “Director/writer Chinonye Chukwu has given us a prison film unlike most anything you have seen, in that her focus is not on a condemned prisoner, but on the person in charge of the execution of prisoners, the warden.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  4. RANGOON—”Director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Hindi film is set during WW 2, mostly in a Mumbai movie studio and at the Burmese border where British-led Indian troops are fighting the Japanese invaders.” (4 stars)
  5. HAMILTONEd gives 5 out of 5 stars to the film version of the award-winning Hamilton play.
  6. THE HALF OF IT—Ed writes, “If you are looking for a feel good movie that is also insightful, then director/writer Alice Wu has just the film for you. Centering on three high school seniors, this coming of age film stands far above most others about teenagers that I have seen.”
  7. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  8. THE RESISTANCE BANKER“Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)
  9. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  10. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)

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Even in a Pandemic, the Spiritual Side of Baseball Returns in the Stories We Share

Each Year, Our Writers Salute the Spiritual Side of Baseball

Martin Davis tells us:
How a Young Pitcher’s Spirit Inspires Generations

COVER STORY—Love sports? Have we got a treat for you in this week’s issue! That’s all thanks to Martin Davis, our contributing columnist who lives near Washington D.C. and who loves to report true stories about the spiritual side of sports.

Yes, you read that correctly: There is a spiritual side to sports. That theme—echoed each year by three of our most popular writers—certainly isn’t something they invented. One of coach Leo Durocher’s most-quoted lines is: “Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.” Part of the talent of writers like Martin Davis is that they truly understand the game—and, then, Martin is able to tell us unforgettable real-life stories that lift our spirits.

In fact, right now, Martin Davis is working on an entire book of stories about high school coaches nationwide—men and women, black and white, famous and unsung heroes alike. This week, he is sharing with our online magazine readers one of the most moving stories he has discovered in his year of virtually crisscrossing America, looking for such transcendent true stories.

Please, read Martin’s story about a young pitcher whose legacy continues to inspire generations. And, please share it with friends on social media or by email.

Learn More About Martin’s New Book

GET TO KNOW MARTIN—Are you inspired by his Cover Story this week? Or have you been following his occasional columns over the past year or so—and feel moved by his storytelling?

Please, read our Front Edge Publishing column this week about a special outreach effort Martin has launched to help produce his book of real-life, diverse sports stories—even in the midst of a pandemic. Yes, it’s also an inspiring story you’ll want to share with friends.

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Holidays & Festivals

NOT THIS YEAR’S VISION OF THE HOLIDAY! The beloved tradition of vast crowds spilling out of mosques into streets and parks for Eid al-Adha prayers likely will be missing this year in most Muslim communities around the world. Families will have to celebrate with the more manageable joys of sweet treats followed by a delicious feast—but probably served in smaller family circles.

EID al-ADHA

THE FEAST REMEMBERING FATHER ABRAHAM, and especially his faithfulness to God, will have a different look and feel this year in the midst of a pandemic. On the morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims dress in their finest clothing and offer prayers (in most years, in congregation). Following prayers, adherents exchange festive greetings and give gifts (Eidi) to children. Even non-Muslims are invited to take part in the joyous feasts and festivities. Please read Stephanie Fenton’s column and share it with friends so they are reminded to wish Muslim friends, neighbors and co-workers well.

TISHA B’AV

MOURNFUL FAST—This year’s Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av also will be affected by the pandemic for some people. Undertaking a 25-hour fast could lower one’s resistance to the virus, at least some public health officials have said in Israel—not to mention the risk of public gatherings on the observance. Stephanie Fenton has this 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

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Quiet Fire

REMEMBER WHEN A PRESIDENT’S 1ST VALUE WAS ‘KINDNESS’?

REMARKABLE BUT TRUE! These days, it’s hard to recall such an era, isn’t it? But, in this week’s Quiet Fire episode about the spirituality of Abraham Lincoln, historian Duncan Newcomer explains why Lincoln deeply believed in kindness—and what that word meant to him.

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‘CLEMENCY’ gets 5-out-of-5 stars in Ed McNulty’s review this week. There’s not a more timely film with the return of federal executions. Click this movie image, above, to read Ed’s review.

FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE, at right, to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema.

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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. CLEMENCY—Ed writes, “Director/writer Chinonye Chukwu has given us a prison film unlike most anything you have seen, in that her focus is not on a condemned prisoner, but on the person in charge of the execution of prisoners, the warden.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  2. RANGOON—”Director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Hindi film is set during WW 2, mostly in a Mumbai movie studio and at the Burmese border where British-led Indian troops are fighting the Japanese invaders.” (4 stars)
  3. HAMILTONEd gives 5 out of 5 stars to the film version of the award-winning Hamilton play.
  4. THE HALF OF IT—Ed writes, “If you are looking for a feel good movie that is also insightful, then director/writer Alice Wu has just the film for you. Centering on three high school seniors, this coming of age film stands far above most others about teenagers that I have seen.”
  5. ONLY—”The plot of director/writer Takashi Doscher’s apocalyptic film differs from what is transpiring today in that most of the pandemic victims are women.” (4 stars)
  6. ADU—”Spanish director Salvador Calvo serves up three stories set in Africa, two of which really make us feel the impact of the world refugee crisis.” (4.5 stars)
  7. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  8. THE RESISTANCE BANKER“Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)
  9. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  10. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 stars)

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film

Cover Story: Exploring the sin of structural racism through Hollywood’s lens

Film Critic Ed McNulty’s Crash Course on Racism—
Through 10 Movies He’s Sharing Nationwide

FROM ‘SELMA’ TO ‘DETROIT’—The national news network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) invited faith-and-film critic Ed McNulty to publish a list of 10 films “that expose and explore the cultural effects of structural racism.” That denomination is encouraging congregations nationwide to preach, teach and talk about racism, this summer. That’s true of the writers who contribute to our ReadTheSpirit weekly magazine, as well. Readers have thanked us for the special focus in our recent issues on the deep roots and complex structures of racism. This week, thanks to Ed and the Presbyterian Church, we can add this crash course at the movies. Please, enjoy this column by Ed and share it with friends this week.

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And Speaking of Hollywood’s Lens—
Lincoln and an Almost-Forgotten Friend

QUIET FIRE, this week, recalls the 2012 film Lincoln—and a close friend to the Lincoln family: Elizabeth Keckley, a heroic and very successful former slave who rose into Washington D.C.’s high society as one of the city’s most popular dress designers. This week, Quiet Fire author Duncan Newcomer is recommending the film in part because it shows a dramatic encounter between Lincoln and Mrs. Keckley about the future of race in America. Plus, Duncan gives us links to learn much more about this all-but-forgotten woman, who played an important role in our history. Please, enjoy this column and share it with friends.

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Remembering U.S. Rep. John Lewis

A Courageous Prophet of Hope

OUR WRITERS AND AUTHORS are mourning the passing on July 17 of civil rights pioneer and U.S. Rep. John Lewis. This has been a somber week for anyone who cares about peacemaking because of Lewis’s passing and the death, also on July 17, of C.T. Vivian who many journalists, community leaders and authors regarded as another great prophet of the civil rights movement.

Only recently, Duncan Newcomer published a powerful true story of Lewis living out his belief: “People can change.” This wasn’t merely a casually phrase for Lewis. These words were part of a dramatic reconciliation Lewis had in recent years with a man who tried to kill him in the 1960s, during a nonviolent civil rights protest. Please read this column that highlights Lewis’s courage and wisdom. Then, if you are inspired by this column, please share it with friends.

And Since We’re Focusing on Hollywood …

WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY ‘JOHN LEWIS—GET IN THE WAY‘ The documentary currently is streaming for free on Amazon Prime. Through mid-August, 2020, the film also can be streamed directly through PBS. (NOTE TO OUR READERS: The story about Lewis reconciling with the man who tried to kill him, many years ago, is part of a section of the film about the Freedom Riders—starting at about the 16-minute mark.)

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Faith in a Time of Coronavirus

Religious Leaders on: Finding Faith in a Pandemic

PULITZER-WINNING RELIGION WRITER PEGGY FLETCHER STACK writes this week—at the website of the International Association of Religion Journalists—about the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s efforts to spark global discussion, called Coronaspection. Please, read Peggy’s story, watch the brief film clip from the project—and share this resource with friends to spark further conversations.

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And, Speaking of Global Dialogue— 

CHRISTIAN ETHICIST DAVID GUSHEE is circling the globe with two of his books that have helped to foster LGBTQ inclusion in thousands of Christian families and congregations.

His landmark book, which he describes as the most important book in his long career, is Changing Our MindCurrently, that book is being translated into Mandarin Chinese, Swahili in Africa and Georgian in Eurasia. This week, Gushee also announced that the second edition of his earlier Kingdom Ethics, which Gushee updated to stress the need to include LGBTQ Christians, will be translated into Russian, Ukrainian and Korean.

Changing Our Mind is a shorter book, written in a compelling, personal style for general readers wrestling with Christian ethics on sexuality. Kingdom Ethics is Gushee’s larger, more-comprehensive reference work on many ethical issues, published nearly two decades ago in collaboration with the late Glen Stassen.

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We Are Helping America’s Caregivers


IN PART 2 OF OUR SPECIAL FOCUS ON CAREGIVING—Susan Stitt writes about the many books our publishing house has produced to help with the challenges of caring for those we love. Please read this week’s Front Edge Publishing column about valuable books that can help you—or someone you love—cope with caregiving.

And, here’s an easy link to Part 1 on Caregiving, which also includes several share-able links to the latest data on caregiving, including a newsy chart that sums up these challenges nationwide.

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Holidays & Festivals

CARE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR MILLIONS OF VETERANS? Click on this cover image to visit the Amazon page for the Michigan State University Bias Busters’ book, “100 Questions and Answers about Veterans.” Are you a veteran who wishes family, friends and co-workers knew more about your experiences? This book is designed to help non-veterans’ most common questions. Consider ordering several copies and give them to people around you.

HIRE A VETERAN DAY

JULY 25 is this annual observance to encourage employers to consider veterans when hiring. In addition to the 19 million veterans living in the U.S., today, another 200,000 transition from active service to civilian life, every year. Forbes Magazine, this week, published a column headlined, Why Hiring Veterans During Covid-19 Could Give Your Company The Competitive Advantage It Needs. INC magazine published, 6 Reasons You Should Hire a Vet.

DOWNSIZED HAJJ IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET OUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

The thousands of Muslim men and women who normally would be packing up for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca this month aren’t going anywhere, this year. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is turning this event that normally involves millions into a symbolic ritual for about 1,000 people. This is an opportunity for all of us to reach out to Muslim neighbors and co-workers and ask about family customs—as our holiday story by Stephanie Fenton suggests. If you’d like to simply skip ahead to ordering your own copy of Victor Begg’s Our Muslim Neighbors—which includes a section on the Hajj—please follow this link to Amazon right now.

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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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Click this photo to read Ed McNulty’s 5-star review of the movie version of Hamilton.

FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema.

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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. HAMILTONEd gives 5 out of 5 stars to the film version of the award-winning Hamilton play.
  2. THE HALF OF IT—Ed writes, “If you are looking for a feel good movie that is also insightful, then director/writer Alice Wu has just the film for you. Centering on three high school seniors, this coming of age film stands far above most others about teenagers that I have seen.”
  3. ONLY—”The plot of director/writer Takashi Doscher’s apocalyptic film differs from what is transpiring today in that most of the pandemic victims are women.” (4 stars)
  4. ADU—”Spanish director Salvador Calvo serves up three stories set in Africa, two of which really make us feel the impact of the world refugee crisis.” (4.5 stars)
  5. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  6. THE RESISTANCE BANKER“Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)
  7. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  8. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  9. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  10. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)

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Cover Story: As millions of Christians move toward activism, you should meet Mae Elise Cannon, an ethical organizer

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What We Need to Know—To Take Action Now

A CRASH COURSE ON FAITH AND INJUSTICE

Just as Marie Kondo has built an international following for her advice on organizing your home—Mae Elise Cannon has become a leading Christian expert on sorting out the often-confusing impulses of your heart.

Mae Elise Cannon is a Christian ethical organizer. Her encyclopedic new handbook is titled Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age and covers lots of life-and-death topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement and the rights of LGBTQ people. Her book is as timely as today’s front-page news.

Please, read our Cover Story and share it with friends. Cannon’s book comes with study questions woven into the text, making it perfect for small-group discussions in congregations.

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Lincoln’s Own Indictment of White Responsibility

DUNCAN NEWCOMER’S QUIET FIRE column, this week, follows on a central theme of our cover story with Mae Elise Cannon. One of the most difficult truths of the Black Lives Matter movement is that White America bears the responsibility for our institutional racism. In her book, Cannon puts it this way: “Racism in 21st-century America is a reality. Acknowledging racism means understanding that white people hold social and institutional power over people of color.”

In his column, Duncan reminds us that—even as he was proposing emancipation during the Civil War in 1862—Lincoln understood this crucial point, as well. Please, read Duncan’s column and share it with friends.

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And—Speaking of Social Responsibility

America’s Explosion of Unpaid Caregivers

DID YOU KNOW that millions more Americans suddenly became caregivers in the midst of this pandemic? Our common estimate for years was that 43 million Americans served—either by choice or necessity—as caregivers. Now, studies show it’s more than 53 million! Our publishing house has valuable resources for caregivers. Please read this week’s Front Edge Publishing column about a valuable book that can help you—or someone you love—cope with caregivingNOTE: This column also gives readers several share-able links to the latest data on caregiving, including a newsy chart you can share with friends—and a major report on the scope and scale of caregiving, today, which is free to download and share.

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Holidays & Festivals

DRAMATICALLY DOWNSIZED HAJJ IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET OUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

The thousands of Muslim men and women who normally would be packing up for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca this month aren’t going anywhere, this year. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is turning this event that normally involves millions into a symbolic ritual for about 1,000 people. This is an opportunity for all of us to reach out to Muslim neighbors and co-workers and ask about family customs—as our holiday story by Stephanie Fenton suggests.

If you’d like to simply skip ahead to ordering your own copy of Victor Begg’s Our Muslim Neighbors—which includes a section on the Hajj—please follow this link to Amazon right now.

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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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Click this movie photo to read Ed McNulty’s review of Tom Hanks in the World War II adventure Greyhound.

FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema.

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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  2. THE RESISTANCE BANKEREd writes, “Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)
  3. BAMBOOZLED—Ed reaches back to 2000 to highly recommend Spike Lee’s “attack on entrenched racism in this, the funniest and hardest hitting satire about American television since Network!”
  4. MALCOLM X—This week, Ed writes: “This review was written for the December 1992 issue of Visual Parables. I am bringing it up from the archives because of a new project highlighting ten films I believe every American white person needs to see in order to understand the currently debated topics of systemic racism and white privilege. With a few minor exceptions, the text appears as originally printed, but the two Scripture passages and a set of questions for discussing the film are additions.”
  5. BOYS STATE—Ed writes, “The new documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss is an interesting look at our democratic process in miniature, as seen at a Boys State meeting, one of 49 held each year in every state but Hawaii since the mid Thirties, sponsored by the American Legion.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  6. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  7. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  8. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  9. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  10. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)

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Cover Story: In Our Struggle for Freedom, the Truth is Not in Our Statues—It’s in Our Souls

A Tale of 2 Artists and 3 Great Souls

Why Do Some Statues Need to Come Down?

A TALE OF 2 GREAT SOULS—Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer frames our Cover Story this week with this column about two great souls who are frequently in the news this month: Abraham Lincoln and the poet and author James Baldwin.

Thousands of books have been written about Lincoln, including Duncan’s own 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln. Now, Baldwin’s wisdom is being lifted up in our national conversation in new ways almost every week. His authority has been growing especially since Ta-Nehisi Coates invoked him in the 2015 National-Book-Award-winning Between the World and Me, Raoul Peck celebrated him in the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro and then a movie version of Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk became an Oscar-winning film in 2018. As recently as July 2, The New York Times asked: “Can James Baldwin Make Sense of Today?”

Please read Duncan’s answer to that question posed by the Times, written in light of the national wave of concern about racist memorials—and the legacy of Lincoln.

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Then, how should we portray Lincoln?

Artists’ perspectives are as divided as today’s public debates

A TALE OF 2 ARTISTS—Today, a growing number of Americans agree that the so-called Emancipation Memorial in Washington D.C.—and its duplicate in Boston—need to come down. City officials in Boston already have removed their copy of the statue. What most Americans don’t know is that this 1876 statue by a White artist was flawed from the day of its dedication—and that Black artists began revising our public images of Lincoln more than half a century ago. One such ground-breaking Black artist was William Edouard Scott, whose very different portrait of Lincoln—with Frederick Douglass—was unveiled in D.C. in 1943.

Please, read our story about these two dramatically different artists’ perspectives and share it with friends this week.

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A Reminder to All of Us …

From Civil Rights Leader John Lewis: ‘People Can Change’

OUR THIRD GREAT SOUL THIS WEEK is civil rights pioneer and U.S. Representative John Lewis. Duncan Newcomer brings our Cover Story columns full circle with a reminder of Lewis’s powerful message: “People can change.” This isn’t merely a casually hopeful phrase. These words were part of a dramatic reconciliation Lewis had in recent years with a man who tried to kill him in the 1960s, during a nonviolent civil rights protest.

Once again, please read this column that highlights Lewis’s courage and wisdom. Then, if you are inspired by this column, please share it with friends.

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More from Our Writers …

Resources For Non-Black Parents Of Black Children 

DR. ANNI REINKING is an important part of the national conversation about race and racism, this year, because of her scholarly research, as well as her own life experiences, summed up in her book Not Just Black and White. On June 6, Anni wrote our two-part ReadTheSpirit Cover Story: One story was headlined, What now? Dr. Anni Reinking Reminds Us It’s ‘Not Just Black and White,’ and then the second story was, Dr. Anni Reinking on ‘What Can I Do Now?’

After that, Anni connected with the journalism network HARO and played a key role in another national story headlined, 9 Resources for Non-Black Parents of Black Children, Recommended by Experts and Families. This appears in Romper online magazine, part of the giant Bustle Digital Group, which has millions of readers especially focusing on young women.

Please read our story about how Anni connected with Romper and what the magazine reported in this week’s Front Edge Publishing column.

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Holidays & Festivals

Dramatically Downsized Hajj Is an Opportunity to Meet Our Muslim Neighbors

The thousands of Muslim men and women who normally would be packing up for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca this month aren’t going anywhere, this year. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is turning this event that normally involves millions into a symbolic ritual for about 1,000 people. This is an opportunity for all of us to reach out to Muslim neighbors and co-workers and ask about family customs—as our holiday story by Stephanie Fenton suggests.

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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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FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema. This new July issue includes discussion guides for Spike Lee’s new Da 5 Bloods as well as See You Yesterday, Spike Lee’s earlier Malcolm X, Irresistible—and other movies as well.

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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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. MALCOLM X—This week, Ed writes: “This review was written for the December 1992 issue of Visual Parables. I am bringing it up from the archives because of a new project highlighting ten films I believe every American white person needs to see in order to understand the currently debated topics of systemic racism and white privilege. With a few minor exceptions, the text appears as originally printed, but the two Scripture passages and a set of questions for discussing the film are additions.”
  2. BOYS STATE—Ed writes, “The new documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss is an interesting look at our democratic process in miniature, as seen at a Boys State meeting, one of 49 held each year in every state but Hawaii since the mid Thirties, sponsored by the American Legion.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  3. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  4. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  5. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  6. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  7. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  8. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  9. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  10. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)

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Cover Story: Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil on ‘Becoming Brave, Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now’

It’s Time to Channel the Tidal Wave

The dramatic wave of support for the Black Lives Matter campaign shows an astonishing change in American awareness of systemic racism. There is overwhelming support for justice right now. Pew says 67 percent of all Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement.

So—now is the time to channel that tidal wave toward change, says the Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil. Now is the time—as her new book urges—that all of us should be Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now.

Please read our Cover Story, this week, which includes an interview with McNeil about her national focus on teaching about the hard work of reconciliation and justice. This summer, she is publishing two, valuable new books—Becoming Brave and a second book that is more of a “toolbox” for working toward justice. These books are perfectly timed for individual reading and discussions in congregations nationwide.

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We Contribute to the National Conversation Every Week

IF YOU FOLLOW our online magazine on a weekly basis (sign up for free email updates via the green box in the upper-right corner), then you know that our community of writers is deeply involved in the national conversation about diversity. Every week, we bring you fresh links to what our writers are doing and saying. This week, Victor Begg (author of Our Muslim Neighbors), spoke with the Christian Science Monitor as the CSM’s Editorial Board emphasizes the importance of inter-religious cooperation in response to COVID-19.

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Holidays & Festivals

FOURTH OF JULY:

What’s Going on at Mount Rushmore?

STEPHANIE FENTON, our Holidays & Festivals columnist, reports on the holiday—and also includes the latest news (and news links) to this year’s controversial plans by President Trump to bring back fireworks to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Why Did Lincoln say, ‘A Man Is Responsible for his Face’?

OUR QUIET FIRE COLUMN, this week, explores the importance of monuments—and the important of our individual faces—as we all grapple with our place and our vocation in this world. Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer takes us to Mount Rushmore—and also to Asia with the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton. What is the scale of your life? What monuments inspire you? What monuments move you to action? Please, share this column with friends, this week.

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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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How about Some Pure Escapism!?!

RODNEY CURTISour resident photographer, author and all-around funny guy, reminds us this week that—hey!—in the midst of these very troubling times …. yes, we also need to laugh and have fun with family.

 

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And, Speaking of Family Fun …

SPECIAL THANKS to all of our readers who sent texts, social-media messages and even phoned to share praise for last week’s marvelous cover story by Elisa Di Benedetto in Italy and Martin Davis in the D.C. area—who managed to cook up a shared pot of minestrone soup across the 4,300 miles that separate them. Talk about social distancing at dinner time!!

Celebrate Global Culture: Ask Friends to Virtually Bake Bread with You!

THIS WEEK, we are following up with a reminder of an easy way to connect with diverse religious and cultural traditions around the world—by baking bread.

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FAITH & FILM 

NO, THIS IS NOT A SCENE from a protest today. It’s a screenshot from Spike Lee’s movie biography of Malcom X. Click on this photo to read Ed McNulty’s column about this 1992 film.

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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 are these films available for streaming now. 

  1. MALCOLM X—This week, Ed writes: “This review was written for the December 1992 issue of Visual Parables. I am bringing it up from the archives because of a new project highlighting ten films I believe every American white person needs to see in order to understand the currently debated topics of systemic racism and white privilege. With a few minor exceptions, the text appears as originally printed, but the two Scripture passages and a set of questions for discussing the film are additions.”
  2. BOYS STATE—Ed writes, “The new documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss is an interesting look at our democratic process in miniature, as seen at a Boys State meeting, one of 49 held each year in every state but Hawaii since the mid Thirties, sponsored by the American Legion.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  3. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  4. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  5. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  6. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  7. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  8. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  9. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  10. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)

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