MEET Dr. NORMAN WIRZBA …
COVER STORY—This week we introduce Canadian-born, Duke University theologian Norman Wirzba in an interview about his new book, Way of Love: Rediscovering the Heart of Christianity. Over the past decade, Wirzba has been teaching, preaching and writing about ways Christians should expand their image of God. Perhaps God is less like a judge or a stern parent and is more like—well, Wirzba says: Perhaps God is more like a gardener. In his new book, he continues this effort by inviting readers to rethink what it means to say that God is embodied in … love. And, to make his message even more engaging—he tells readers about his favorite movies that illustrate his message.
Never heard of Wirzba’s work until today? We’ve also posted one of Wirzba’s sermons about God envisioned as a gardener. You can read for yourself what he has to say when he’s on the road preaching.
Friends in Michigan take note—Our online magazine draws readers from around the world, but our home base is Ann Arbor, Michigan. We’re pleased to note that, at 2 p.m. on Sunday March 13, Wirzba will be presenting the Henry M. Loud Lecture, a popular series that has brought major religious leaders to this University of Michigan community, through the Wesley Foundation, for more than a century.
‘DINING FOR WOMEN’—Here’s a terrific way grassroots groups of women are helping the world 1 meal at a time. Our FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis reports on the “Dining for Women” movement, how it works and how it produces group donations to help families around the world. And, Bobbie also serves up a recipe for beans and rice.
WILBUR AWARDS—Since 1949, the Wilbur Awards have honored excellence by individuals in secular media. The list of categories in which the Religion Communicators Council gives these stained-glass trophies now includes print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting and motion pictures. We’re especially celebrating with David Gushee and Diana Butler Bass—and we’ve got a link to all the winners.
HOLIDAYS and FESTIVALS
DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.
EAST AND WEST—AND LENT—The majority of the world’s 2 billion Christians follow the Western liturgical calendar; they already have started the Lenten season that leads toward Easter. Stephanie Fenton has that story in our Holidays column. Then, coming up on Monday March 14, the calendar followed by most Eastern Orthodox Christians also will reach what is known as Great Lent. (And, Yes, Stephanie’s story does have a recipe for traditional lagana bread.) During this traditional season of reflection, we also recommend Our Lent: Things We Carry, an inspirational book by ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.
TWO FROM INDIA
MAHA SHIVARATRI—Hindus chant, worship and fast for Lord Shiva before heading into a nighttime vigil of devotion for the auspicious Hindu holiday of Maha Shivaratri. Dates may vary on this festival. Stephanie Fenton has the story.
SRI RAMAKRISHNA’S 180th—On March 10, Hindus around the world will remember an influential teacher who helped to revive Hinduism and also preached respect for other religious traditions. Stephanie Fenton’s column about Ramakrishna’s 180th birthday celebration also includes a link to Daniel Buttry’s profile of this remarkable religious teacher.
& POPULAR CULTURE
INSPIRED BY FILM? In the wake of the Oscars, the world is still abuzz about Spotlight, which won the Best Movie award. Of course, keeping kids safe everywhere, and especially in our houses of worship, is a goal we all share. ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm writes about next steps you can take after watching Spotlight. If you’re just discovering this thought-provoking movie, you’ll also want to read faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s in-depth movie review.
ENJOY DISCUSSING MOVIES? Get a copy of faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s new book Jesus Christ, Movie Star—it’s full of thought-provoking reading and questions! AND—enjoy all of the free resources from Ed’s website: www.VisualParables.org
- MUSTANG—You’ll have to search to find this French-produced film set in Turkey (which is nominated for an Oscar)—but it’s worth the effort. (4 stars)
- RACE—If you enjoyed the recent movies about Jackie Robinson, you’ll want to see this movie biography of track star Jessie Owens. Ed gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
- GODS OF EGYPT—Ed says, “Skip it!” It’s a cartoonish collection of ear-splitting sound and special effects. (1 star)
- THEOLOGIANS UNDER HITLER—Ed recommends a 2005 documentary about theologians who twisted their faith to support Hitler. (4 stars)
- A WAR—This Oscar contender from Denmark serves as a good reminder that it is not just American families that are disrupted by the war in Afghanistan. (5 stars)
- TWO FILMS TO SKIP—Ed gives Gods of Egypt only 2 stars. And, he rates London Has Fallen only a bit higher at 2.5 stars.
- 45 YEARS—A wonderfully sophisticated story about questions that surface in a long-time marriage. (5 stars)
- THE GOOD DINOSAUR—It’s a “good” movie, but parents might want to consider whether to take very young children, Ed advises. (3.5 stars)
- SIN NOMBRE—Ed McNulty writes: “I wish every American would see this film” about Honduran refugees. (5 out of 5 stars)
- LADY IN THE VAN—Don’t miss Maggie Smith in this movie, says Ed. (5 stars)
- HATEFUL EIGHT—Yes, it’s a violent and twisted tale, but it’s intriguing as well. (4 stars)
‘JOY’ ISN’T ALONE—This week, GodSigns columnist Suzy Farbman writes about the come-back story of Linda Schlesinger-Wagner. Like the now-famous story in the hit movie Joy, Linda faced some daunting challenges in her family, but managed to restore spirits and their fortunes with a creative new product.
GET NEWS FROM THE WHOLE WORLD—Two veteran journalists in Europe are trying to change the way we all “see” religion news around the world. In fact, ReadTheSpirit is actively helping them in this quest. Their first new project is a Twitter feed that will let you glimpse religion and cross-cultural stories that you would never see without their help. Here’s the story—and you can help them get this project rolling.