Cover Story: We Held a National Conversation asking, How Do We Reconnect Communities?

IS YOUR COMMUNITY GROWING ONLINE? Click this “tiled” image to read our Cover Story.


‘Nothing Is More Important than Helping People to Reconnect’

COVER STORY—“Since the start of this crisis, we are hearing from so many people that we need understanding and a place of refuge. Nothing is more important to us right now than helping people to reconnect with our communities—the communities around us, our communities of faith and culture and heritage.”

And, that’s just one of the inspiring voices we heard in a 90-minute, nationwide conversation we held with two dozen media professionals on Friday.

Please, read this cover story that spans the nation—and is packed with inspiring examples of creative outreach. Then, please share this inspiring cover story with friends.


Bob Alper:
How a Comic Connects—Without a Standup Stage

FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING COLUMN—One major theme in the national conversation we are featuring in our cover story is the need to build creative new online options to bring people together. So, what’s an author who’s famous as a standup comic supposed to do? Trying to make people laugh—in the stony silence of streaming media—quickly fizzles.

However, like many of our authors, Bob Alper is multi-talented and he has developed two new online programs that he describes as drawing on other parts of his life: his long career as a rabbi and a writer.

Please, enjoy Bob’s story—and, note: There’s a tip at the end about how to get a free laugh from Bob via email.

Click this illustration from Pilgrim’s Progress to read Duncan Newcomer’s Lincoln column this week.

Wisdom from Abraham Lincoln

A SPECIAL ‘QUIET FIRE’—Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer was a key contributor to our national conversation, which is described in this week’s cover story—to the point that other writers across the connection began spontaneously lifting up small figurines and photos of Lincoln in their Zoom screens.

After years of writing about Lincoln—and recording the weekly public radio series Quiet Fire—Duncan believes that one key to Lincoln’s profound wisdom was his ability to decipher and understand spiritual truth in many voices, many tongues.

In this week’s special episode of Quiet Fire, Duncan writes about some of the eclectic inspirations that may have touched Lincoln’s spiritual life—from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress to figures like Johnny Appleseed and Joan of Arc.



Holidays & Festivals



The Holiday

STEPHANIE FENTON’S Holidays & Festivals column reminds us that, this year, many Christians may wind up posting photos of themselves to social media, wearing red to celebrate the ancient “birthday of the Christian church,” commonly called Pentecost.

A Poetic Meditation

BENJAMIN PRATT contributes special Pentecost poetry this year—set in a barroom. This is Benjamin’s hopeful reflection on our deeply troubling times as millions of Christians mark the ancient holiday, this year.

Care to see all of our Holidays & Festivals columns? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the address




Click this movie image to read Ed McNulty’s review of the 1954 classic about the lives of poor people, Salt of the Earth.



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 are these 10 recommending videos available for streaming right now. 

  1. SALT OF THE EARTH—Ed reminds us of the 1954 classic about the lives of poor people, Salt of the Earth, the subject of great controversy in that era.
  2. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  3. REDISCOVERING ‘INSIGHT’—One of the great gems of classic TV was the Insight series produced by Paulist Productions. This week, Ed looks back at that remarkable and long-running series, which included a Who’s Who of top Hollywood talent. Through its 250 episodes, viewers saw performances by stars including Carroll O’Connor, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, June Lockhart, Celeste Holm, Meg Tilly and Patty Duke. Best of all, Ed shares with us the YouTube link to enjoy many of these classic episodes.
  4. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  5. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)
  6. HALA—”Writer/director Minhal Baig brings us a very unusual version of the teenager coming of age story. Who has ever filmed this from the perspective of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, daughter of strict Pakistani parents who are only half acclimated to their new country? Although the pace of the film might try the patience of some viewers, it offers a rewarding time for those concerned about a young woman on the cusp of discovering her freedom.” (4 stars)
  7. 7500—”When a thriller, and Patrick Vollrath’s film is certainly one, begins with a Gandhi quotation, you can be sure that I will be watching with an extra amount of attention!” (4 stars)
  8. A HIDDEN LIFE—Want to learn more about courageous peacemakers? “Terrence Malick raises important questions about faith and loyalty to one’s country versus loyalty to one’s conscience. And how do you know that you are right when most everyone else is of the opposite view? These are universal questions, applicable here today as well as in 1940s Europe.” (The Franz Jagerstatter story is streaming from Amazon; also from Netflix’s DVD service.)
  9. FORBIDDEN—”This 36-year-old TV film, directed by Anthony Page and written by Leonard Gross, is another worthy film to add to the small number that pay tribute to the too-few Germans who opposed Adolph Hitler. Like Alone in Berlin, this film is set in Berlin. It is based on the non-fiction book by Leonard Gross The Last Jews in Berlin and stars the great French actress Jacqueline Bisset as the real life Countess Maria von Maltzan.” (4.5 stars)
  10. ALONE IN BERLIN—”Most WW 2 era films about resistance to Nazi tyranny are set in France, Poland, or some other occupied country, so Vincent Perez’s story of a middle-aged German couple becoming disillusioned with Hitler is most welcome. Based on Hans Fallada’s novel Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Every Man Dies Alone), it is a fictionalized version of what happened to the real-life Otto and Elise Hampel.” (4.5 stars)






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