Leadership Is Embodied in the Community Itself
COVER STORY—What’s going on in Georgia these days? For the second week in a row our cover story is rooted in central Georgia where African-American communities are giving us an inspiring vision of healthy communities. Last week, we profiled Stan Tucker and his organization that works in low-income schools to foster a love of reading.
This week, we are recommending a new book by a trio of scholars connected with the Forum for Theological Exploration in Atlanta. Drawing on wisdom from the African-American tradition—and other Christian traditions as well—Stephen Lewis, Matthew Wesley Williams (shown above with a group) and Dori Grinenko Baker have published a summary of their methods for Living and Leading Change on Purpose, which is the subtitle of their book.
‘Harnessing the Power of Tension’
Just as last week’s profile of Stan Tucker paralleled our own publishing house’s interest in early literacy—this week, we are pleased to introduce this trio from Atlanta and their work because it parallels our own work with peacemakers Brenda Naomi Rosenberg and Samia Bahsoun. Drawing on wisdom from their Jewish and Muslim traditions, Brenda and Samia also are working nationwide with communities, based on the same assumption: The most effective leadership resides not in a single individual—but in the entire community.
Read our Front Edge Publishing column this week, by David Crumm, to learn more about the work Brenda and Samia are doing and their two books that focus especially on building healthy interfaith and cross-cultural communities.
When the Going Gets Tough, Friendship Means Everything
GodSigns—Closely related to our Cover Stories, this week, is Suzy Farbman’s GodSigns column about the importance of friendships. Why should we work so hard to form strong relationships across the community? Because we often need the strength of those friendships to buoy us up in life. Suzy writes, “It’s easy to be a friend during the good times. In 52 years of marriage, there’ve been loads of good times. But as for friendship, when the chips are down—that’s the true measure.”
Holidays & Festivals
MAKE IT A MEMORABLE LENT
A PERFECT YEAR FOR ‘OUR LENT’—Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on the start of Lent this week for 2 billion Christians: “With Lent quickly approaching and Easter on the horizon, Western Christians enter the season of repentance on Ash Wednesday—after, of course, making any last indulgences the day before, on Fat Tuesday.” (Click to read more.)
She also reports on the fast of Great Lent for Eastern Christians, which begins March 2 just after Cheesefare Sunday, when observant Orthodox families will have their last dairy products until Easter: “Cheesefare Sunday will mark the discontinuation of partaking in dairy products until Pascha. For Orthodox Christians, Great Lent begins the day following Cheesefare Sunday, on Clean Monday—this year, March 2.”
LENT IN A TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
Of course, this year, millions of Christians around the world are changing their Lenten customs in this time of coronavirus, aka COVID-19. Across the U.S., many churches are urging parishioners to refrain from shaking hands while “passing the peace.” In Italy, journalist Elisa Di Benedetto emailed us this week to report that her region has been hit hard by concerns over the virus—so the Catholic church has cancelled Ash Wednesday services! Then, Elisa wrote that she remembered a copy of Our Lent: Things We Carry on her bookshelf. She wrote: “This is a perfect year to read David’s book!” What an endorsement! And, she’s right: The book truly will life your spirits even if you are especially worried in this era of coronavirus. Come back next week, because Elisa promises to write about how the worldwide virus is reshaping religious life in one of the famous homelands of Christianity.
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:
- BURDEN—You’ll have to look for this indie film, based on true events, but Ed McNulty says it’s well worth the effort. He writes, “Set during the 90s, this is an amazing story that will remind you of last year’s The Best of Enemies, which also told the story of how a KKK member and a black activist became friends.” Although the film was shot in 2016 and first shown at film festivals in 2018, only now is it appearing in more cities across the U.S. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
- THE GENTLEMEN—You may want to skip Guy Ritchie’s new action comedy, which Ed says is “stuffed with killers and drug dealers and a blackmailer.” (3 out of 5 stars)
- SONIC THE HEDGEHOG—Ed writes, “Along with its zany action, which the kids will love, there are plenty of funny lines.”
- THE ASSISTANT—“Writer/director Kitty Green, hitherto a documentarian, tackles in her first feature film the theme of power, similar to that in Bombshell, but in a far less sensational way.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
- DOWNHILL—This remake of the highly regarded 2014 Swedish film Force Majeure stars Will Farrell and Julia Luis-Dreyfus in the tale of a family confronted with an avalanche in the Alps. Called a “black comedy” or a “comedy-drama,” the film revolves around family tensions and responses to the sudden onslaught. Ed says the remake is interesting but only worth 3.5 out of 5 stars.
- THE LAST FULL MEASURE—Todd Robinson’s The Last Full Measure includes combat scenes, but it is not your usual war movie. Instead it is about the aftermath of the Vietnam War, dealing with a 30 year long attempt by veterans to obtain the Congressional Medal of Honor they fervently believe their heroic comrade deserves. (4 out of 5 stars)
THE SONG OF NAMES—French Canadian filmmaker writer-director François Girard, who gave us the exquisite The Red Violin in 1998, gives us another film in which a violin is important. Instead of transpiring over several centuries, this film spans the years from Hitler’s invasion of Poland to the night of a concert in 1951 to the 80s when a mystery is at last solved and a broken relationship—and heart—is restored. (4 stars)
- LES MISERABLES—Don’t confuse this 2019 French film with the Victor Hugo classic, except in the film’s underlying theme. Ed gives this provocative story about France’s present-day oppressed minorities 5 out of 5 stars and says it’s well worth making an effort to see this movie.