A CAROL PERFECT FOR OUR TIME
A CHRISTMAS CAROL is as popular as ever, nearly two centuries after Charles Dickens first penned the ghost story. This year alone, we have seen everything from a scary, new three-hour BBC production that has just begun airing on American TV—to Dolly Parton’s theatrical debut of a Smokey Mountain musical adaptation she created. Read our cover story, this week, to find links to eight new 2019 versions of Carol—and to enjoy our own beloved author Benjamin Pratt’s adaptation. Weaving Dickens’ ghosts into his own life, Ben shows us how valuable it can be to wrestle with these specters, if we ultimately hope to brighten our spirits this holiday season.
Celebrating Our 2 CNN Heroes
OUR FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING team is honored to work with two CNN Heroes. Editor David Crumm shares the news—and links to inspiring video coverage of both heroes: 2019’s Najah Bazzy of Zaman International and 2017’s Jeanine Patten-Coble of Little Pink Houses of Hope.
Hanukkah: Celebrating Religious Freedom
UNDERWAY THIS WEEK—The first night of Hanukkah arrived December 22 for million Jews worldwide. Although not as religiously significant as major Jewish holidays, such as Yom Kippur or Passover, Hanukkah is widely celebrated, and is easily recognized even by non-Jews.
EVENING OF TUESDAY DECEMBER 24—Even though a growing minority of Americans say they have no religious affiliation—about half of us say they like to attend Christmas Eve services. These holiday celebrations have become the biggest events of the year in thousands of churches nationwide. Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton has the story.
Kwanzaa: Celebrating African-American Values
THURSDAY DECEMBER 26—Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration of African-American culture that was first celebrated half a century ago in 1966. In the 21st century, writes Elizabeth Pleck in Journal of American Ethnic History, it remains “one of the most lasting innovations of United States black nationalism of the 1960s. Maulana Karenga, a prominent member of the black nationalist community, designed the holiday “as a celebration of African American family, community and culture.”
But, there is so much more to this holiday! In recent years, Karenga’s annual Kwanzaa messages have focused on ways African values can contribute to healing the whole world. Please, read Stephanie Fenton’s column on the festival, which includes inspiring quotes from a couple of Karenga’s messages.
Help Us Spread the Spirit of Peace this Season
What better gift to give someone this holiday season, than the gift of SPIRIT. All of these books promote peace by helping to bridge the gaps that separate Americans these days. Please read our gift-giving recommendations—and choose a couple of these great books. And, share this story with friends on social media or via email.There’s probably a book on this list that you’d like to receive!
Care to see all the holidays? 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:
- THE AERONAUTS—Before there were aviators, there were aeronauts. Director Tom Harper, who gave us the tuneful film about a talented Sottish woman eager to sing in Nashville, Wild Rose, takes us back to 1862 when two English aeronauts ascended to a record height not surpassed until almost 70 years later. (4 out of 5 stars)
- KNIVES OUT—Ed writes, “Director-screenwriter Rian Johnson gives us an old fashioned whodunit complete with a room full of characters, all of whom have motives that could have led to the murder in question. This is a stylish brain teaser certain to make you forget your own troubles for a while, although it does lift up the issue so troubling to many, that of immigrants. (4 stars)
- PARASITE—Ed writes, “Korean director-writer Bong Joon Ho, whose 2013 sci-fi film Snowpiercer included criticism of our society’s sharp class division, includes the latter in his horror genre film about three families and their struggle for wealth. This is the first South Korean film to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes this past year, so it is obvious that this is not your usual scare flick.” (4 stars)
- RICHARD JEWELL—”The story of security guard Richard Jewell could be the prime example for that cynical adage: No good deed goes unpunished. Director Clint Eastwood brings us the dramatic story of a hero suddenly under FBI scrutiny and media attack as a villain guilty of a heinous crime.” (4 stars)
- MARRIAGE STORY—Ed praises this heart-felt, honest drama and gives it 5 stars.
- PAIN AND GLORY—”Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, whose films usually center on strong women, draws on aspects of his own life in this story of a faded film director almost despairing of renewing his career. It will come as no surprise that there is a strong woman central to his story, his mother Jacinta, played by Penelope Cruz when he was a boy.” (4.5 stars)
- A HIDDEN LIFE—Ed writes, “Terrence Malick, after his three montage-type films (Knight of Cups; To the Wonder: and The Tree of Life), returns to a simpler narrative form in this biography of Austrian WWII conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter. He effectively juxtaposes the Eden-like tranquility and beauty of the Austrian mountain village of St. Radegund with the destructive evil of Nazis ruining Europe at the time.” (5 out of 5 stars)
- LAST CHRISTMAS—Director Paul Feig’s new holiday film is a bit better than the average TV-Christmas-movie fare, says Ed. (4 stars)
- A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD—The new film is touching and terrific—even better than Ed had expected, he writes. (5 stars)