Celebrating with Religious Communities Worldwide
COVER STORY—Since our online magazine was founded in 2007, this has become our greatest strength: We have published thousands of stories about religious and cultural diversity with our balanced approach to journalism. And, this week, we can see readers around the world flocking to read our stories about Easter and Passover.
What’s surprising is that, this week, our two most popular Passover columns both were published more than a year ago—and both are drawing readers from around the world via Google searches and links shared by friends.
As usual, the majority of our readers are based in the U.S. But, for these two columns, our Internet analytics show readers arriving from countries including: Canada, the United Kingdom and other English-speaking nations such as Australia and New Zealand. Europeans in Germany, France, Spain, Hungary and Estonia have read one or both of these columns—plus Latin American readers, including Mexicans and Hondurans. Most noteworthy, though, are readers spending time with these two columns in Africa, from Ghana and Nigeria to South Africa, as well as the Arab/Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan.
In this era of rising hate speech and tensions between minorities, our columnists are making substantial contributions to interfaith understanding. What are these two most-popular Passover columns—based on the consensus of our readers’ own choices?
The Mystery of the Passover Potato Gnocchi—Part of the continuing international appeal for this 2015 column in Bobbie Lewis’s FeedTheSpirit may be the Australian home of Bobbie’s guest: Andrea Cooper. In addition to covering Passover customs, the column includes a delicious recipe for gnocchi.
Out of Bondage—Several years ago, we published sample chapters from Debra Darvick’s popular book, This Jewish Life, a collection of real-life stories of men and women with experiences connected to the cycles of the Jewish year. Out of Bondage highlights the timeless power of the Passover Haggadah as Debra recalls the deep emotions that surface when immigrants from Russia experience the Seder.
In addition, every week, readers around the world visit Stephanie Fenton’s coverage of Holidays & Festivals. The easiest way to remember Stephanie’s home page is the simplified address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org. This is another of our magazine’s trademarks: We cover a major festival like Passover from multiple perspectives. Bobbie and Debra are both well known Jewish writers. Stephanie’s column is always geared for general readers, so her main Passover column provides background on the holiday mainly aimed at non-Jewish readers.
Of course, the majority of our readers live in the U.S. and the majority of the population is Christian. The latest Pew report on the world’s religious landscape totals 2.3 billion Christians worldwide, which is 31 percent of the world’s population. (The rest of the new Pew data show: Muslims make up 24 percent of the world’s population, unaffiliated people account for 16 percent, Hindus 15 percent, Buddhists 7 percent, Folk religions 6 percent and, rounding out the report are “other religions” at 0.1 percent and the world’s Jewish minority at 0.01 percent.)
This week we are covering these Christian holidays:
THE PASCHAL TRIDUUM—Some churches use this traditional phrase to describe the ancient liturgies that fill three days before Easter. These colorful, solemn practices include the blessing of holy oils in Catholic churches, the washing of feet, communion services and special draping of church altars.
EASTER / PASCHA—West and East converge this year on April 16! Stephanie Fenton reports on the wide range of colorful customs and stories related to this holiday around the world.
CENTENNIAL OF ‘THE GREAT WAR’—In our review, this week, we urge readers to either tune in or record a remarkable six-hour PBS documentary about America’s entry into World War I in April 1917. Don’t mistake this epic film for “just another war story.” A great deal of the new documentary examines civil rights issues, a century ago, that remain as timely today as they were in that earlier era.
FILM & FAITH:
WIN A FREE MOVIE!
ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.
Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.
IN APRIL, Ed is offering 5 free movies on DVD and/or Blu-ray to 5 men and women who either subscribe for a year or renew their existing annual subscription for another year (before April 30). Here’s how it works: As April ends, we will put the names of people who subscribed/renewed into a hat and draw 5 winners. Then, Ed will email the winners, in the order their names were drawn, and give them a choice of the free movies. There are some wonderful movies available! The list of 5 prizes starts with the thought-provoking Silence and includes the hit movie Arrival, as well. Click here to subscribe/renew and get in on this drawing.
- LAND of MINE—In his Oscar-nominated film, Danish director/writer Martin Zandvliet gives us a new slant on WW 2, as well as an always needed lesson on human decency. (5 out of 5 stars)
- AN AMERICAN CONSCIENCE: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story—Ed gives 5 stars to this documentary—which is coming to public television’s WORLD channel on April 16, Easter.
- LOGAN—The latest X-men thriller also gets 5 stars.
- GIFTED—Ed writes, “Director Marc Webb and writer Tom Flynn have gifted us with a heart-wrencher that might remind you of Kramer-vs-Kramer.”
- GROWING UP SMITH—Frank Lotito’s picture about an Indian immigrant family can be a fun outing for the family, though adults will find some of the incidents a bit far-fetched. (4 stars)
- ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE—Ed reflects on the Holocaust film along with excerpts from Psalms. (4.5 stars)
- BOSS BABY—Guest reviewer Markus Watson calls it a cute film, worth 4 stars.
- WHITE HELMETS—”We are indebted to Netflix for making documentarian Orlando von Einsiedel’s short film so widely available,” Ed writes. (5 stars)