GREAT INSPIRATIONAL READING
FOR SPRING/LENT—For a decade, our online magazine has recommended the best in books and films that inspire readers and celebrate our diverse lives. Each year, one of the biggest reading seasons is spring—and, in particular, the 40-day period of Lent when millions of Christians make a point of deepening their spiritual reflections. Now is the time to plan for that reading. In an ongoing way, we recommend books from a wide range of authors and publishing houses, so please scroll through our home page to see some of the titles and authors we have recommended recently. And, please, we also ask that you help encourage and support our own ReadTheSpirit authors by considering one of these books in 2017:
- OUR LENT—This is ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm’s classic 40-day reflection on Lent, connecting details in the Gospels about the final days of Jesus’ life with milestones in our contemporary world. You’ll encounter everyone from Judy Garland to the Cat in the Hat in the pages of this unusual, inspirational book.
- FLAVORS OF FAITH: HOLY BREADS—Want to literally taste your spiritual reflection this year? Check out Lynne Meredith Golodner’s book that shares true stories about religious traditions and their connections to special breads—complete with recipes so you can make them at home.
- ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY—Order one of the many guides to diversity from the Michigan State University School of Journalism team.
- SHORT STUFF FROM A TALL GUY—If you’re a regular reader, then you’re familiar with Benjamin Pratt, who has contributed many of the most popular columns to our website over the years. He also has published several books in the past decade with ReadTheSpirit Books. This spring, we recommend his latest book, which is full of reflections that invite us to stop and think in fresh ways about the details in daily life.
- GOD INCIDENTS—This is one of our newest books, witten by longtime pastor and teacher Glenn Wagner, about the surprising ways that God sometimes breaks into the midst of our ordinary lives. We know you’ll enjoy Glenn’s fresh perspectives on rediscovering faith in unexpected moments.
- CHECK OUT OUR BOOKSTORE—If you haven’t yet discovered our ReadTheSpirit Bookstore, please spend a few minutes looking over the dozens of choices that might intrigue you this spring. Nearly all of our books are designed for both individual reading and small-group discussion. Some of them include study guides, such as United America by Wayne Baker (all bout the core values that, believe it or not, still unite Americans in this deeply divided nation).
DR. DAVID GUSHEE—Have you been stung by unexpected divisions among friends in this deeply divided era in American culture? Well, you’re not alone! Author David Gushee, who is celebrated nationwide for his pioneering book Changing Our Mind, has paid a price for his courageous and inspirational writing about Christian inclusion. In this column for Religion News Service, he tells the story.
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.
THERE’S ONE EASTER THIS YEAR!
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.
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. And please, consider subscribing to the one resource that supports Ed’s ongoing work—and is enjoyed by individuals and small groups nationwide: Visual Parables Journal. Each monthly issue is packed with complete study guides to current films. The new February issue is now available to subscribers.
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)