Cover Story: Exploring America’s Religious Diversity, MSU team’s latest book explains the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As Americans Move Toward Unity, Once Again …

Let’s Promote Awareness of Our Religious Minorities

MSU JOURNALISM STUDENTS, known as “THE BIAS BUSTERS,” launch their 18th guide to cross-cultural awareness—focusing on the uniquely American religious movement, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our Cover Story this week tells why they chose this subject for their latest book—and why understanding religious minorities is crucial in bringing Americans back together, again.

One inspiring comment you’ll find in our Cover Story comes from an LDS member who reflects on the pain of bias that comes from the myths and stereotypes so many Americans hurl around in everyday conversations. “When our hyper-focusing on differences causes us to lose sight of our common humanity—and we treat people as less than human because they’re not like us—we betray the ‘better angels of our nature.’ The world is less full of love, joy, and peace. Everyone suffers when one suffers.”

Please learn about this important new book, published as the Latter-day Saints are nearing the 200th anniversary of their origins as a religious movement, and share this news with friends.

How Journalists Help Us …

… by Cutting Through Myths that Divide Us

GIVE MSU’s JOE GRIMM 3 MINUTES—and he’ll give you a quick overview of how these MSU School of Journalism Bias Busters books take shape. Joe calls this brief video “Book-Amorphosis.” It’s a great reminder of the vital role journalists play in bringing us fair, accurate and balanced reporting. What’s more? Journalists tend to do that with remarkable speed, precision and flexibility. After relentless attacks on journalists, it’s time to remember how important this profession is in our democracy. Watch the video and share this story with friends.

Let’s Encourage Our ‘Better Angels’

CONSIDER FOR A MOMENT: Giving someone copies of this MSU Bias Busters series is a great way to start the process of reuniting America after one of the most deeply divisive periods in our history. Let’s all encourage friends, families, neighbors and co-workers to learn more about our cultural, ethnic, racial and religious minorities as a way to help heal our wounds. Here’s a link to the Amazon page that displays the entire series of 18 Bias Busters books.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL! The other book series we have launched to help Americans remember the values that unite us started one year ago this week with the publication of 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln. Were you struck by the comment, above, invoking our “better angels”? That’s an appeal to Lincoln’s wisdom—something that all Americans, whatever their political affiliation today, are willing to do to find common ground. Please, if you’re making a holiday gift-giving list, also consider ordering a copy of our Lincoln book for yourself—and for someone on your holiday shopping list, this year.

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And Speaking of Books with Healing Wisdom …

‘Calmness is Contageous!’

THE SECOND VOLUME in the series that began with Abraham Lincoln is 30 Days with King David on Leadership. Got room on your holiday shopping list for one more book? Want to learn more about how David can play a role in bringing people together? Visit author Larry Buxton’s website to get his free, weekly videos that will add just a few minutes of wise inspiration to your week. This week’s subject is: ‘Calmness Is Contageous!

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Celebrating a Courageous Prophet of Inclusion

FOR SIX YEARS, DR. DAVID GUSHEE has helped thousands of Christian families around the world learn to love each other more fully, after decades of heart-breaking evangelical condemnation of LGBTQ loved ones. That’s how Dr. Gushee describes the worldwide work he launched in 2014, a story captured in his book Changing Our Mind. Last week, we celebrated Dr. Gushee crossing the milestone of 20,000 copies sold. Now, we are reminding readers that one major catalyst in his prophetic work occurred six years ago this week. Ever since that moment on November 8, 2014, we have been streaming the video of his keynote address at The Reformation Project conference in Washington, D.C. Please, share these stories with friends to help expand this healing message to even more families.

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Holidays & Festivals

Another way to prepare for Veterans Day is to order a copy of the 100 Questions and Answers about Veterans, a book that’s packed with information veterans told us they wish more Americans understood about their lives and experiences. Click this image to visit Amazon.

Remembering Our Veterans

ON NOVEMBER 11, a new National Museum of the United States Army will open in Virginia with a live-streamed ceremony followed by public access following COVID-19 safety procedures.

Stephanie Fenton’s column includes a 3-minute video about the new facility. And, at the close of her column, she has a convenient link to the online clearinghouse for news-updates about special restaurant offers to treat vets on this national observance.

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Diwali

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTSMore than 1 billion people around the world celebrate this festival of lights, which originated in India, as Stephanie Fenton reports.

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

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SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER! To celebrate a decade of Ed McNulty’s involvement with ReadTheSpirit magazine, we are offering a half-price annual subscription to Ed’s premium content, his Visual Parables Journal. These monthly PDF-format magazines are packed with complete discussion guides for lots of films, both current and classic. It’s great for individual reflection and small-group discussion. Clicking on this image takes you to the Visual Parables Journal page where you can scroll down to the red-colored section and learn more about this special offer, now through December 31.

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:

  1. LET HIM GO—Ed writes, “This is sort of a Gothic horror film for senior citizens, thanks to the goose bump-rising performance of Lesley Manning as the matriarch of a North Dakota family. But writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s adaption of Larry Watson’s 2013 novel does not start there but in neighboring Montana. As all good horror thrillers, it starts on a peaceful note on the ranch of Margaret and George Blackledge (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).”
  2. LEADBELLY—Ed reaches back to 1976 to highly recommend Gordon Parks’ cinematic biography of Huddie Ledbetter, better known as the musician “Leadbelly.”
  3. WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME“The title of actress/writer Heidi Schreck’s Broadway hit suggests that her one-person (almost) dramedy must be very personal, and we soon see just how deeply personal it is. Attired in a yellow school-type blazer, she takes us back to when she was a precocious 15-year-old competing in American Legion-sponsored What the Constitution Means to Me contests.” He urges all of us to see it—streaming for free now with Amazon Prime.
  4. AND BREATHE NORMALLY NOW—”The conflict over immigration and protecting a nation’s borders is not just an American concern, as this dramatic film by first time Icelandic director Ísold Uggadóttir shows.
  5. CHASING FREEDOM—Reaching back to 2004, Ed writes, “Though director Don McBrearty’s TV movie was released in 2004, its concern for the plight of the endangered immigrant remains as timely as ever.”
  6. THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7—”West Wing lovers might well be ecstatic while viewing writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s new film that Netflix picked up after the pandemic forced Paramount Pictures to scrap plans for a theatrical release. Sorkin’s film is full of the conflict between the powerful and the vulnerable and the fast-paced repartee that made the White House-based series so enjoyable to watch. The infamous trial, dragging out over 4 ½ months, was almost ready-made for a film, with its colorful, controversial characters.”
  7. THE WAY I SEE IT—”Director Dawn Porter’s documentary exploring the work of White House photographer Pete Souza is a combination of cinematic Valentine to Barack Obama, the man as well as President, and a polemic against the current occupant of the White House.”
  8. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue-in-cheek Showtime mini-series that he created and helped produce and write. The true part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  9. TIMEThis gripping documentary was produced and directed by Garrett Bradley. It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, fighting for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.
  10. Click this photo to read the review of ‘Hosea’ (2019).

    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.”

 

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