Cover Story: Kathy Callahan’s ‘Puppy Planet’ asks—What is the culture and language of our furry friends?

‘This book is about empathy … for these beings we are welcoming into our homes.’

COVER STORY—Have you ever stopped to think about the “culture” and “language” of the young dogs—the puppies—that millions of families have adopted? Our first instinct, these days, may be to enroll ourselves in “dog training” classes—to teach some pre-determined “commands” to our canine friends. However, in this remarkable book, Callahan starts by inviting readers to explore the personalities and the cultural backgrounds of our new visitors. She even describes how to begin speaking with your dog. No kidding!

Over the last 17 years, our online magazine has occasionally covered innovative books about animals as part of our overall commitment to encourage compassion in our troubled world. If you’re already a dog lover, we’re certain you will want to read this week’s Cover Story—and then you may want to share it with friends as well. Please, do!

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And speaking of compassion …

‘Compassion Is in Fashion’

THAT’S THE MESSAGE in Episode 85 of Howard Brown’s popular podcast, Shining Brightly. To listen to this inspiring conversation with Ali Horriyat, go to Howard Brown’s home page and, in the middle of that page, you’ll find Episode 85. Howard describes Dubai native Ali Horriyat as “a purpose-driven human.” Throughout his life, Horriyat has developed a daily discipline of focusing on helping others who he encounters. Eventually, he left his career in finance to focus on spreading this message. You’re guaranteed to feel better after listening to Howard and Ali discuss the daily importance of empathy and acts of kindness.

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And in other news—

Suzy Farbman—

Where is she now?

THAT’S SUZY (left) WITH HER SISTER RECENTLY in a European tour that reconnected Suzy with many vivid family memories. Can you tell where this photo was taken? Read the column to see a more complete version of this snapshot.

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Rusty Rosman ‘easing tensions when a loved one dies’

MICHIGAN’S OAKLAND PRESS published a profile of Rusty Rosman, this week, because of her work with Two Envelopes, a new book focused on helping families to respond in a caring when a loved one dies. Special thanks to journalist Mark E. Lett for this thoughtful article introducing Rusty’s work to more folks who will benefit from this remarkable woman’s wisdom.

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What’s your religious region?

THIS WEEK in The Washington Post, the data-reporting team produced a remarkably vivid look at distinctive religious communities across the U.S. We don’t normally recommend Post stories because of the “paywall,” but find a way to explore this interactive multi-media report. It’s fascinating!

Does this make you want to learn more about religion in the United States?

THE BEST STARTING POINT is the Michigan State University School of Journalism Bias Busters series, now 22 books—and counting. All are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. This Bias Busters series is an award-winning resource “answering questions everyone is asking, but nobody seems to be answering.”

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Holidays & Festivals

Selassie’s 132nd birthday

AS STEPHANIE FENTON REPORTS, we are likely to see more celebrations of Haile Selassie’s birthday this year because of awareness of the Rastafari movement from the recent feature filmBob Marley: One Love. Care to learn more? Stephanie’s column includes a link to Ed McNulty’s review of the Marley biopic.
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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

 


Click this movie poster for “Thelma” to read Edward 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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American Dreams: Independence Day inspires us to envision our best selves and our best nation

We’ve been helping readers to envision our best lives together since 2007

COVER STORY: For Independence Day 2024, we decided to remind our readers of our 17-year commitment as a community of writers—without missing a single week for 880 consecutive weeks—to publish stories in keeping with our motto: “Good media builds healthy community.” In 2024, our nation seems so deeply divided that this July 4 week seems like an ideal occasion to share these stories.

Let’s start with a visit to one of America’s most endangered communities

TANGIER ISLAND is so low to the Chesapeake Bay that the island’s centuries of history are endangered by rising waters—yet island residents are as committed as ever to endure. This article originally was published in 2010 as part of our 40-day, 10,000-mile ReadTheSpirit journey around America. The question this story asks is: In the end, can this little island with the big faith survive?

Then let’s visit one of our most famous stories of post-hurricane resilience

ALSO FROM OUR 10,000-MILE journey was this very popular story about the Vietnamese-Catholic community in New Orleans that came together to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina—one of a number of major crises these families faced in sustaining their homes. One of our favorite lines from this story is the affirmation: “This is America and we have each other.”

The MSU Bias Busters Project—

One of our most important projects is reducing bigotry through understanding our neighbors.

FREEDOM FOR ALL is a central theme of the 22 MSU Bias Busters books, which provide accurate information about the many minorities living among us.

The first of two Bias Busters columns this week focuses on Hmong Americans, who migrated here from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War. Bias Busters Director Joe Grimm writes about the Hmong hope to be free of “The Model Minority” myth.

Our second Bias Busters column this week reports on the many attempts popping up nationwide to put more religious content into public institutions. Again, Bias Busters Director Joe Grimm writes about a resource for understanding these issues in a balanced way in these deeply contentious times.

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And, underlining these themes—a column from George A. Mason

AS IF DRAWING A LESSON FROM SUCH STORIES, the nationally respected preacher, scholar and author George A. Mason has published his own reflection on American “Independence”—urging us to remember that—”Freedom from needs to be joined to freedom for.”

AND—if you want a more in-depth exploration of George’s lifetime of teaching—get a copy of his magnum opus: The Word Made Fresh.

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Holidays & Festivals

July 4—our ‘delicious’ holiday story

STEPHANIE FENTON’S Holidays & Festivals column, this week, looks ahead to Independence Day festivities that start more than a week before the national holiday in some parts of the country. And, yes, Stephanie also has lots of links to delicious holiday recipes!

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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

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: Brian McLaren’s ‘Life after Doom’ invites us to think in fresh ways about the world we are giving to our children

McLaren’s rich array of resources includes wisdom from Native Americans—and tips for families with children

COVER STORY—This week, we welcome back a long-time friend of our publishing house—the best-selling Christian author Brian McLaren, whose newest book is a wide-ranging appeal for all of us to take seriously the catastrophic threats facing our planet—and to claim our responsibility for the legacy we are creating for our children. It’s an inspiring book with a rich array resources we describe in this Cover Story—which features a fresh interview with McLaren.

This is a book you’re likely to hear friends talking about soon. It’s a book you may want to order for small-group discussion in your community. So, please enjoy reading this conversation with Brian McLaren about Life after Doom—and then take a moment to share that story with friends via the convenient social-media sharing buttons. Friends will appreciate learning about this good news.

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And related Native American news—

OUR COMMUNITY OF WRITERS has been reporting on Native American life for years—and currently we are focusing on the ways North American church and government officials are making public inquiries into the historic horrors of so-called “Indian Boarding Schools.” Last week, we included a link to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ new public statement, first as reported in The Washington Post—and then, we shared a direct link to the USCCB’s 56-page document.

This week, we are encouraging our readers to learn more about the latest news from the Episcopal Church’s long-term effort to research and truthfully report on what happened in its three dozen schools.

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From our creative community—

MSU Bias Busters on Hmong Americans—

Why Hmong are concerned about a U.S. Census classification 

MSU BIAS BUSTERS DIRECTOR Joe Grimm reports this week on why Hmong Americans—the subject of the Bias Busters’ newest book—are concerned about a U.S. Census plan to group them in the region of China. This is far more than a minor geographic nuance, Joe reports. It’s an illustration of how this distinctive minority continues to struggle for proper recognition almost half a century after the end of the Vietnam War.

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Rusty Rosman and Patrick Greenwood

Enjoy this video of Rusty with this ‘very unique writer’

THE POPULAR PODCASTER Patrick Greenwood hosts Two Envelopes author Rusty Greenwood in his very engaging series Writers on Writers over a Triple Espresso. You’re sure to enjoy this video, because you’re in the hands of a masterful host with a truly intriguing author.

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Jeffrey Munroe—

Going on the road to encourage readers to tell their own stories

FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING COLUMN—Our authors are as eager to speak to readers as they are to write for them. Among our most popular speakers in 2024 is Jeffrey Munroe, head of the Reformed Journal. Here is the story of what happened during a recent visit Jeff paid to a church in Ontario, Canada.

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We’ve spotted a unique book on racial reparations

EDITOR DAVID CRUMM highlights Robert Turner’s new book for WJK Press, Creating a Culture of Repair: Taking action on the road to reparations, in a review posted in the Goodreads community. Of course, there are many books, articles, videos and classes about the concept of Reparations to address centuries-spanning racial injustices in America. What makes Turner’s book truly “unique” in this body of literature—and likely a great small-group-discussion choice for congregations—is that the bulk of his book is comprised of 100 descriptions of individual actions and projects people could undertake to be part of a movement toward Reparations.

And an inspiring podcast on ‘Restorative Justice and Engaged Pluralism’

WE ARE BECOMING FANS OF THE ‘Beached White Male’ podcast, because of the fascinating array of guests Ken Kemp invites to talk with him about timely issues in inspiring ways. This week, we want to recommend a podcast in which Ken welcome’s author Jeffrey Munroe’s equally accomplished daughter Amanda Munroe to talk about her professional work in ‘Restorative Justice and Engaged Pluralism.’ We’re sure that many of our readers will find this fascinating.

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Holidays & Festivals

July 4

Festivities start this week across the U.S.

STEPHANIE FENTON’S Holidays & Festivals column, this week, looks ahead to Independence Day festivities that start more than a week before the national holiday in some parts of the country. And, yes, Stephanie also has lots of links to delicious holiday recipes!

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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

 


Click on this poster for the new Disney-PIXAR film to read film critic Edward McNulty’s review.

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: With the Michigan State University Bias Busters, we are celebrating the Hmong among us!


Community Contributions of these Resilient Survivors are ‘Secret No More’

COVER STORY: In fact, “Secret No More” is the subtitle of this new 100 Questions and Answers book from the Michigan State University School of Journalism Bias Busters project. “Hmong Americans have traveled a long way in a very short time,” says the Preface to this newest volume in this award-winning series of books used nationwide to help reduce bigotry through education—in both text and video formats, in this case. “Very few Hmong people lived in the United States until its 1975 pullout from Vietnam. That put Hmong people, recruited by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to fight in a secret war against the Viet Cong, in grave danger.”

This newest Bias Busters book will ship soon from Amazon, so please read (and share with friends via social media) this week’s cover story and let’s collectively spread awareness of this remarkable yet little-known minority among us.

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From our creative community—

Rodney Curtis

Who can resist a lovely summer wedding?

AUTHOR RODNEY CURTIS also is award-winning photographer Rodney Curtis. He recently photographed a summer wedding and shares this sure-to-make-you-smile, photo-filled column with us.

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Holidays & Festivals

Eid al-Adha

AROUND THE WORLD, Muslim families are starting this week celebrating the completion of this year’s Hajj by pilgrims of every race and ethnicity—a global gathering each year that highlights the hope of peace that is at the core of Islam.

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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It’s officially ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day’

STEPHANIE FENTON WRITES ABOUT OUR NEWEST FEDERAL HOLIDAY—”Gospel concerts, street fairs, ceremonies, and prayer services take place across the nation today, in celebration of the oldest known commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States: Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day.” Read her entire column, which also includes fascinating links to additional resources like holiday recipes.

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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—

Catholic Bishops ‘apologize’

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. (The photo above comes from such a school in the Pacific Northwest that forced young people from the Tulalip tribes to adopt “American ways.”)

THIS WEEK, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 181-to-2 to publish a lengthy statement apologizing for the church’s complicity in that era. The Washington Post published an overview of the bishops’ decision. 

Then, you can read the USCCB’s 56-page document via the bishops’ own website.

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Click on this movie poster to read film critic Ed McNulty’s review of the new feature, Ezra.

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: 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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