Voices of Reassurance—
Every week for more than 13 years, men and women across the nation have written to our online magazine about the inspiring and challenging stories we have published. Occasionally, these writers send us full-fledged columns they hope we will consider for publication. Over the past week, we have seen an exceptional wave of these messages, which we are calling “Letters to America” and “Voices of Reassurance.” And we will begin this series with—
From Lucille Sider: ‘You Are Not Alone’
‘DEAR FRIENDS,’ Lucille begins. Her letter starts our series, because Lucille’s concern always is the health and wellbeing of the men and women she encounters—certainly our physical health, but also our mental health. Please read Lucille’s letter and also the invitations she offers at the close of her note—and share these letters with friends.
From Larry Buxton: ‘A Better Way to Win’
LARRY BUXTON asks us: “This autumn, how often do you find yourself asking this question: How will this battle end?” Well, there are more possibilities than a zero-sum struggle to the end, Larry tells us this week in a video letter. Like Lucille, Larry also extends an invitation for readers to connect with his ongoing teaching and storytelling.
From Duncan Newcomer: ‘Do we need another Lincoln?’
LINCOLN SCHOLAR Duncan Newcomer asks us: “Have you noticed, this autumn, that there is a lot of talk about how we need another Lincoln? Wherever you turn in major magazines and newspapers and even on air, these days, we keep hearing this question: Whose Lincoln do we want and need right now?”
From Michael McRay: ‘The stories that might help save us’
THE FOURTH LETTER in our series this week comes from the opening pages of a remarkable new collection of true peacemaking stories by Michael McRay—a book called I Am Not Your Enemy. In a grant-funded educational project to promote peacebuilding, Michael carefully collected these stories from places such as Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland and South Africa. As Michael explains in his opening pages: When he was finished with his long journey, he realized how important it was to tell everyone—everyone around the world—that their individual story truly matters.
From Craig Lemasters: Join a “first” on Oct. 6
CRAIG LEMASTERS is a business innovator, which means his unique “letter” this week has been shared across multiple platforms, including social media, email and newsletters. On Facebook, he puts it this way: “Is your business stuck? Feel like you’re just not growing or changing fast enough? What if you could tap into the knowledge and experience of a handful of people who have been exactly where you are?” The big news this week is that Craig is focusing his message in a global book launch via YouTube streaming. We’ve got the details and, yes, you can join that event.
From Rabbi Bob Alper: ‘And I’ll take a side of laughter with that, too, please.’
BOB ALPER’s letter also is a multi-media invitation. The nation’s only practicing rabbi who also is a full-time standup comic, Bob has had to adapt to pandemic distancing. First, he offered daily Quick Laugh videos. Now, he’s inspired to share a series of daily cartoons. You’re sure to want to get these—so please read this short letter from Bob. And, share it with a friend who needs a good laugh.
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:
- NEW ORLEANS—Ed McNulty reaches back to 1947 to recommend this film, now streaming on YouTube. He writes, “When I discovered this 1947 film on YouTube, the main reason for watching it, other than the hope for some good jazz, was that it featured singer Billy Holiday in her only film, other than a short made back in the ’30s. She plays a singer named Endie whose boyfriend is Louis Armstrong, playing himself.”
HOSEA—Ed writes, “Director/writer Ryan Daniel Dobson was inspired by the ancient prophet when he wrote and directed this love story that unfolds in the darkness of human lust and depravity. However, instead of the story focusing on the prophet and his mission to a fallen nation, Dobson centers his film on the former prostitute turned wife in present day Oklahoma City. Unlike the Biblical prophet, we are given the back story of how Gomer—here renamed Cate—became a prostitute.”
- BORGEN—For years, the Danish series has been praised by critics in the U.S., but the series has not been available to most TV viewers. Now that Netflix is streaming three seasons of Borgen, Ed McNulty offers his own strong praise for these nearly 30 hours of exceptional TV. And, Ed adds some thought-provoking questions to consider as you begin to watch the series.
- THE CIRCLE—This week, Ed also reaches back across the years to recommend another important film (in this case from 2000). He writes, “Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s movie begins and ends with a woman peering through a small window with a sliding panel as they seek information from someone in authority. Hence the title refers to a metaphorical circle … of women struggling to survive.”
- RESIDUE—Merawi Gerima’s debut film explores the complex costs of gentrification—in this case, in Washington DC. Ed compares it to the other 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
- RUBY BRIDGES—Ed writes, “Ruby Bridges tells the story of how a six-year old Black girl integrated a New Orleans segregated school in 1960. … Not expecting a whole lot of it because it was a Disney film, it turned out to soar way beyond my expectations.”
- ALL IN—THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY—Ed writes, “Directors Lisa Cortes’ and Liz Garbus’s well-produced documentary could not be more timely, coming out just a month or so before the 2020 national elections.“
- BY THE GRACE OF GOD, originally Grâce à Dieu—”Francois Ozon’s rivetting drama joins two other excellent films—Our Fathers and Spotlight—that personalize the issue of the abuse of boys by priests and its cover-up. The script, written by the director, is based on the real lives of three men abused as boys by Father Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley).”
- MILADA—”We should all be grateful to Netflix for bringing us Czech director David Mrnka’s English-language film about a social justice advocate largely unknown in the U.S. Milada Horáková, born in 1901, became a lawyer when few women were able to rise to this status. She championed labor and women’s issues and in the late 1930s tried unsuccessfully to warn the English of Hitler’s true intentions. She returned to her native land to take part with her husband Bohuslav Horák in the resistance to the Nazis.”
- DANGEROUS LIES—”Director Michael Scott’s mystery can provide an enjoyable time away from the current turmoil, especially if you enjoyed Knives Out, though his tale revolving around a good-hearted caretaker by no means rises to that level.”