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.


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.


‘Answer the highest calling of your heart’


‘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.

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.



Holidays & Festivals

Rakhsa Bandhan


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.




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.



And Speaking of Inspiring Journalists …


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.



CLICK ON THIS IMAGE from the new documentary “What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?” to read Ed’s entire review.


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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