Reconnecting in a Season of Separation
SHARING A POT OF FRESH SUMMER SOUP ACROSS 4,300 MILES
COVER STORY—Can something as simple as a pot of soup help us to reconnect, even the midst of this global pandemic? Two regular contributors to this online magazine are Elisa Di Bendetto and Martin Davis—who are physically separated by 4,300 miles. She is based in Italy; he’s near Washington D.C. They became friends through the International Association of Religion Journalists and have visited in person occasionally over the years. As spring turns to summer, they both were reminded via email and social media that their thoughts were turning toward their mutual love of cooking with fresh ingredients, especially the first crop of summer vegetables. Today they’re coming together to talk about an Italian classic—minestrone—plus they are sharing colorful photos as well as their personal recipes. Please share this story with a friend—and perhaps share one of your own summer recipes as well.
And Speaking of Diverse Connections …
IMPROVING EDUCATION is one of our nation’s greatest challenges in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic and economic downturn. Millions of us depend on the reporting of journalists about the best ideas for maintaining—and improving—our patchwork school systems nationwide.
One of the biggest challenges reporters face is the ever-growing diversity in communities large and small. Now, our own Michigan State University Bias Busters team, under the direction of Joe Grimm—an award-winning team that has produced a long-running series of books to help understand diversity—is helping the reporters who are part of the Education Writers Association. Please, read this story about the challenges journalists face in helping all of us to improve educational opportunities—and you’ll also be able to get a free copy of the guide, if you wish. And, please, share this column with friends who work in our schools—and friends who care about our teachers and students.
BREAKING NEWS FROM AP…
Joe Grimm and the MSU Bias Busters keep us up to date on the proper way to write about our diverse world—including a new Bias Busters column this week, explaining that Associated Press has just agreed to capitalize the “B” in the term “Black.”
WHY DO WE REFER TO LINCOLN’s ‘FIRE’ as ‘QUIET‘?
IN HIS ‘QUIET FIRE’ series this week, Duncan Newcomer focuses on that word “Quiet” in the title of his long-running, weekly radio series Abraham Lincoln—Quiet Fire.
In our era when politicians seem to be in competition for the loudest and longest orations, Lincoln reminds us that brevity often is the sincerest sign of heart-felt communication. Please, read this week’s story about a particularly poignant talk by Lincoln—which we only have today because an Associated Press correspondent insisted that the president jot down his remarks on a slip of paper as the presidential train pulled away from the station.
Ready for Flags, Food & Fireworks?
STEPHANIE FENTON reports that home-fireworks sales are “sky high” this year! That’s because, backyard barbecues will be firing up as thousands of events nationwide turn from public to private. Most patriotic parades and festivals are cancelled this year—but that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t holding festivities: In fact, residential fireworks sales are soaring. Please, read Stephanie Fenton’s column—which includes a prominent, helpful link to fireworks safety precautions!
What are we reading for ‘Pride Month’?
AMERICANS ARE READING, this summer, about diversity at a rate we’ve never seen! This month, Americans also are ordering books about sexuality and gender because this is LGBT Pride Month, set in June to honor the activists at Stonewall in June 1969. Susan Stitt writes about some of the great books you can get right now to explore these issues.
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
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 10 films available for streaming now.
- 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)
- 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)
- HEARTS BEAT LOUD—Because of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
- DA 5 BLOODS—Ed urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
- 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)
- 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.”
- REDISCOVERING ‘INSIGHT’—One of the great gems of classic TV was the Insight series produced by Paulist Productions. This week, Ed looks back at that remarkable and long-running series, which included a Who’s Who of top Hollywood talent. Through its 250 episodes, viewers saw performances by stars including Carroll O’Connor, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, June Lockhart, Celeste Holm, Meg Tilly and Patty Duke. Best of all, Ed shares with us the YouTube link to enjoy many of these classic episodes.
- 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)
- 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)
- HALA—”Writer/director Minhal Baig brings us a very unusual version of the teenager coming of age story. Who has ever filmed this from the perspective of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, daughter of strict Pakistani parents who are only half acclimated to their new country? Although the pace of the film might try the patience of some viewers, it offers a rewarding time for those concerned about a young woman on the cusp of discovering her freedom.” (4 stars)