FIND A CHORUS CLOSE TO HOME—In 2016, we’re all looking for ways to feel safe and promote peace. That’s true whatever your faith or political persuasion might be. So, ReadTheSpirit.com magazine is kicking off this new year with some ideas for finding a chorus you can join, wherever you live right now. Let’s start with Playing for Change … Come on. Read this story—or simply enjoy the toe-tapping music video we’ve included with this column.
FEED THE SPIRIT—Bobbie Lewis starts the new year with a cautionary tale about a food fad that once took America by storm—but now is fizzling. Her story chronicles the rise and fall of the Red Delicious, a century-old variety once valued for its taste that morphed into a bitter giant. She draws on reporting from The Atlantic and also shares an apple recipe that she guarantees is still … well, delicious.
ALL THE HOLIDAYS
DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries..
POINTING TO EPIPHANY—Stretching all the way back to our first winter season in 2007, we bring back A Star to Guide Us, a wonderful real-life story from Pennsylvania writer, the Rev. John Emmert.
12th NIGHT, EPIPHANY and THEOPHANY—In Western Christianity, Epiphany is celebrated as a time the “Wise Men” visited the baby Jesus. The night before this holiday is Twelfth Night, which has a rich cultural tradition from Shakespeare to some communities that still celebrate the holiday. But in Eastern Christianity, Theophany is the name of the day and more of Jesus’s life is recalled than in the West. Holiday columnist Stephanie Fenton has the whole fascinating story for us.
GO FLY A KITE! One of India’s oldest holiday traditions unfolds in mid January—welcoming spring! Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Makar Sankranti, an ancient custom that looks to the stars for signs that the world is growing lighter again. Customs now vary by regions, including sweets and beautiful traditional symbols, but by far the most popular form of celebration is flying kites.
WANT PEACE? HELP BIAS BUSTERS—The Bias Busters program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism is courageously stepping into the nationwide wave of anti-Muslim bigotry by reducing the price of their guidebook on understanding Muslim-Americans to 99 cents. Leading figures in journalism are praising this move. Please join them in spreading the news! Learn about this effort, spearheaded by MSU’s Joe Grimm and his students. Their guide was just recommended nationally by a top editor at The Huffington Post.
& POPULAR CULTURE
GREAT GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Do you enjoy making connections between faith and film? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book—”Jesus Christ, Movie Star.”—is a lots of fun and it’s inspiring as well!
ALL THE MOVIES—Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.
- JOY—Ed McNulty highly recommends this movie, which he says could be mistaken for a light-weight comedy. Instead, the film raises lots of issues about American families and American culture. Wonderful performances by the ensemble cast make this a feel-good movie you shouldn’t miss, Ed says. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
- THE REVENANT—This film may be difficult to watch, but it is refreshing to see so many myths of the “Old West” swept away in this bold new drama. (4.5 stars.)
- CONCUSSION—A David-and-Goliath story of the effort to shed light on the dangers of concussions in professional football. (4 stars)
- THE 33—A thrilling survival story of the miners trapped in Chile—and an indictment of corporate greed. (4 stars)
- BROOKLYN—Keep an eye out for this marvelous story of immigrants trying to make new lives in 1950s America. The story takes the old saying “Home is where the heart is,” and raises the question, “What if your heart is split, each half residing in two places thousands of miles apart?” (5 stars)
- SPOTLIGHT—No question: It’s a deeply troubling true story. But, Spotlight—the story of the Boston Globe‘s investigation into abusive priests—is an important movie, says Ed who adds: “From director to ensemble cast, this film is a mark of the excellence to which Hollywood can rise.” (5 stars)
- TRUMBO—Another superbly crafted, true-to-life drama about the struggles of top Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo. (4.5 stars)
- STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS—Yes, there’s new life and creativity in this sequel—plus lots of old friends! (4.5 stars)
- SUFFRAGETTE—Ed says “This is a film that every mother, and father, should be watching and discussing with their daughters and sons.” (4.5 stars)
- JAMES BOND in SPECTRE—Ed says “the film is full of thrilling action and a dash of reflection on Bond’s past.” (4 stars)
- THE DANISH GIRL—Ed gives 5 stars to this remarkable drama about the transgender transformation of an artist a century ago.