SHARING PARABLES OF VICE—AND VIRTUE
COVER STORY—Here at ReadTheSpirit we are journalists and storytellers. We try to bring you, each week, the best news about books and films that uplift the spirit while celebrating our world’s diversity. This week, one of our most popular authors, Benjamin Pratt, begins an occasional series reminding us that the world’s great religions have always been a moral guide to avoiding vices (or “evils” or some would say “deadly sins”) and encouraging virtues. Given headlines in recent weeks, we asked Ben to start with “Greed” and its counter-virtue “Charity” (or some would say generosity). We invite you to reflect on this thought-provoking column and, please, share it with friends. Ben calls this first column: “Enough!”
AND THERE’S MORE—Ben also is a firm believer that deeper reflections may be prompted by visual meditations. So, this week, he also borrows an idea from the late Phyllis Tickle and invites you—and your friends—to reflect on a disturbing painting by Mario Donizetti.
A GENEROUS LIFE
GodSigns—Columnist Suzy Farbman profiles the late Marti Huizenga. She and her husband are known nationally for many things, including businesses and professional sports teams they have owned. But Suzy focuses on the natural generosity that flowed from Marti throughout her life to family, friends and important causes including the Humane Society. Here’s a look at a larger-than-life woman—and also the remarkable funeral she planned for herself.
PBS: EXPLORING AMERICAN EXTREMISM
FOUR DOCUMENTARIES—PBS is airing four documentaries in February that explore the rise of American extremism—and the life of Civil Rights hero John Lewis. David Crumm reviews the first of these films, ‘Birth of a Movement,’ about the first case—a century ago—of a U.S. president welcoming extremists into the White House to celebrate white supremacy. We also list all the other documentaries with air dates and links to learn more.
HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
CHECK OUT ALL OF 2017’s SPECIAL DAYS—It’s as simple as visiting www.InterfaithHolidays.org where you’ll find all of 2017’s major observances listed. Please, alert us if you spot an occasion we’ve missed.
TU B’SHEVAT—And, did you know the Jewish agricultural festival that’s also known as “The New Year of the Trees” is coming soon? Stephanie Fenton has the story.
PLAN AHEAD FOR LENT!
This is one of the unusual years when the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity converge on a single date for Easter: April 16. That means Eastern Orthodox Great Lent begins with Clean Monday on February 27; and Western Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 1. Plan ahead with an unusual choice in inspirational reading this year: Enjoy Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film guide to thought-provoking movies about Jesus, called Jesus Christ Movie Star. This is a great choice for individual reflection, a common practice during Lent for millions of Christians, or for discussion in small groups, another popular custom during Lent.
MEATFARE / CHEESEFARE—Stephanie Fenton reports on Eastern Orthodox preparations for fasting during Lent—and she includes links to some delicious recipes as Eastern Christians prepare to give up meat and then cheese.
& POPULAR CULTURE
ED McNULTY—Enjoy all of the free resources from Ed McNulty’s faith-and-film website: VisualParables.org.
Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:
- FOUNDER—A fascinating, fictionalized version of the life of the founder of the world’s biggest hamburger chain. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
- SILENCE—Ed gives this powerful film about faith and doubt 5 out of 5 stars and calls it exceptional.
- 20th CENTURY WOMEN—This thoughtful drama takes us back to 1979 as a group of women wrestle with changing cultural tides. (4 stars)
- GOLD—A contemporary tale of gold prospectors that, at times, feels like Treasure of the Sierra Madre but morphs into something more like Wall Street. (4 stars)
- A MONSTER CALLS—It’s great. Don’t mistake this for just another “kid’s movie.” There are fascinating twists and turns in this unusual story that provide a great opportunity for conversations across the generations, Ed says. (5 stars)
- THINGS TO COME—Isabelle Huppert stars in French writer/director Mia Hansen-Love’s film about a middle-aged woman facing loss. (4.5 stars)
- PATERSON—Look for this small film by Jim Jarmusch about a bus driver. (5 stars)