Cover Story: We’ve never seen times like these. So, we’ve never seen prayers like these.

Cara Gilger Gives Us ’99 Prayers Your Church Needs’

Turning to God in Turbulent Times—and in Celebration

Most of us pray. Researchers tell us that the vast majority of Americans pray. But how do we pray? What do we say? Beyond frequency of prayer, research tells us little about the details.

That’s where the Rev. Cara Gilger lends a hand. Detailed, specific prayer is the focus of a new book by Cara and a nationwide network of 40 talented young clergy, titled 99 Prayers Your Church Needs—But Doesn’t Know It Yet. The book is a cornucopia of words that real people in real communities have lifted up in the face of all manner of celebrations and catastrophes.

And, here’s another reason to read this Cover Story: The second half of the story is packed with links to other resources provided by Cara, who is a church consultant and also regularly writes columns with fresh ideas for families. The book is great for individuals, as well as religious communities. Please, enjoy this week’s cover story and share it with friends.

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Holidays & Festivals

Books Make Great Holiday Gifts

More Americans Are Reading Right Now Than Ever Before

IN OUR FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING COLUMN, Susan Stitt explains why 2020 has been very busy despite the pandemic. Our books are our way of making the world a little better place. Susan Stitt looks at this year’s colorful array of books—which make perfect holiday gifts.

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St. Nicholas Day

PLAN AHEAD FOR DECEMBER 6The white-bearded man in the red suit may travel by reindeer in the West, but on December 6, Sinterklaas, or San Nicola, arrives across Europe on horseback—for St. Nicholas Day. For European children, St. Nicholas Day brings hope of sweets, small toys and surprises. For Christian families, the excitement and gifts of St. Nicholas Day can better prepare children for focus on the Nativity on Christmas Day.

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It’s a Holiday Tradition: Generosity!

What Sparks Our Generosity?

GREATER GOOD MAGAZINE, which is published by the University of California-Berkeley, features our author Najah Bazzy in a fascinating column about the connections between empathy and generosity. We are proud to publish books that include Najah, including Friendship & Faith, a collection of inspiring stories about women crossing barriers to make new friends. This year, if you would like to contribute directly to Najah Bazzy’s many projects to help families—please visit her home website at Zaman International.

How Do We Express Love to Others?

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THIS WEEK’S ‘LEADING WITH SPIRIT’ VIDEOS explore two important aspects of generosity.

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. THE BREAD WINNER—”Irish director Nora Twomey, who co-directed the exquisitely beautiful The Secret of Kells, launches out on her own with the gorgeously animated film set in Kabul in 2001 on the cusp of America’s invasion in retaliation for the attack on the Twin Towers. With its theme of the Taliban’s oppression of women, the film will remind some of another similarly themed film, though set in Iran, Persepolis.”
  2. FISHING WITH DYNAMITE—Ed writes, “In this documentary, director Paul Wagner clarifies for those of us who are economic dummies the murky subject of capitalism. His film explores the contentious history of American corporate culture. It explores the arguments of two influential theories—stakeholder vs shareholder capitalism. And it does so in an amusing and entertaining way.”
  3. THE 12th MANNorway, 1943: After a failed anti-Nazi sabotage mission leaves his eleven comrades dead, Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud (Thomas Gullestad) finds himself on the run from the Gestapo through the snowbound Arctic reaches of Scandinavia.
  4. THE LIFE AHEAD—”Even were it only half as good, this remake of the Romain Gary novel that became the Oscar-winning 1977 French drama, Madame Rosa, would be noteworthy because of its star and director: Sophie Loren and her son Edoardo Ponti.”
  5. FUNANCambodia, April 1975. Chou is a young woman whose everyday world is suddenly upended by the arrival of the Khmer Rouge regime. During the chaos of the forced exile from their home, Chou and her husband are separated from their 4-year-old son, who has been sent to an unknown location.
  6. THE GOOD LORD BIRD—Ed writes, “Ethan Hawke has the role of his life as fiery Abolitionist John Brown in this tongue in cheek mini-series that he created and helped produce and write.  We know at the outset that this isn’t pure history when, before the title we read, ‘All of this is true… Most of it happened.’ The ‘true’ part comes from James McBride’s National Book Award-winning novel of the same name, on which the series based.”
  7. 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.
  8. LET HIM GO—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).”
  9. 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.
  10. 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.”

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