HAPPY GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY NIV!
COVER STORY—We report on the 50th anniversary of the New International Version of the Bible, an English translation created by evangelical Christian scholars for evangelical readers. If you’re not within that religious community, why should you care? Because this is the most popular version of the Bible, today, and has far outsold both Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings combined! And, for those with an evangelical on their Christmas list—we recommend some unusual editions of this Bible with added features from Zondervan.
& MERRY CHRISTMAS
DON’T MISS A HOLIDAY! Just remember this simple Web address www.InterfaithHolidays.com to find all of the upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries.
HAPPY HANUKKAH! This year, Jewish families will light the first Hanukkah candle on the evening of Sunday, December 6. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton provides an overview of the holiday and its traditions.
FEED THE SPIRIT—For Hanukkah, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis brings us a special guest writer: “Bubbies Latkes” is the story of a real-life Jewish grandmother, Susan Gartenberg, who recalls how her own grandmother showed her how to make delicious latkes. And, yes, there’s a recipe, too!
CHRISTMAS IS COMING—The Western Christian Advent season began Sunday November 29 this year. Each week in Sunday services (and in Christian homes), families celebrate themes related to Jesus’s birth: hope, peace, love and joy. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Advent traditions.
AND IN THE EAST—Stephanie also writes about the Eastern Orthodox Nativity Fast, a centuries-old tradition of fasting in preparation for the holiday marking Jesus’s birth. This period of self denial and spiritual reflection began November 15 with occasional days of exception and culminates on December 24.
ST. NICHOLAS IS COMING! Before there was a jolly old Santa Claus, sipping Coca Cola and starring in countless movies and TV specials—there was a noble Christian bishop whose goodness eventually led to his canonization as St. Nicholas. Stephanie Fenton reports on this global Christian tradition.
& POPULAR CULTURE
CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR MOVIE FANS—Only one figure challenges the century-old records of Sherlock Holmes and Santa Claus as Hollywood superstars. Who is that? Veteran-faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty’s brand new book answers that question in its title: “Jesus Christ, Movie Star.” In these pages, he provides potent fuel for individual movie fans and small groups to discuss how Jesus’s life and legacy is depicted in movies that indelibly shape our understanding of religion. This is as timely as front-page news—and lots of fun as well—says our story about the book. Religion scholar Ken Chitwood, the author of FaithGoesPop columns, contributed to this new book and says in a new column that he’s “overwhelmingly excited” about its publication.
HOLIDAY MOVIES—As predictable as the December holidays are the waves of moviegoers eager to catch up on the many films showing in the final weeks of the year! Looking for great choices? First, www.VisualParables.org is a treasure trove of free movie reviews by Edward McNulty. Also, check out the current issue of his Visual Parables Journal.
- THE PEANUTS MOVIE—Charles Schultz’s creation is 65 years old—but this new adventure is lively fun for young and old. (4.5 out of 5 stars)
- JAMES BOND in SPECTRE—Ed says “the film is full of thrilling action and a dash of reflection on Bond’s past.” (4 stars)
- THE DANISH GIRL—Ed gives 5 stars to this remarkable drama about the transgender transformation of an artist, based on the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener in the early 20th century.
- LABYRINTH OF LIES—A gripping drama about the search for Nazi war criminals. (4.5 stars)
- THE MARTIAN—A thought-provoking film about survival on Mars! (5 stars)
- BRIDGE OF SPIES—Make sure this new Tom Hanks film is on your “must see” list. (5 stars)
- MISS YOU ALREADY—Lots of emotion in this story about two friends, starring Drew Barrymore. (4 stars)
- ROOM—Produced in Canada, this drama explores the life of a kidnapped woman who finally is freed along with her little boy. (4 stars)
Hunger Games …
JANE WELLS REVIEW—Thousands of our readers, in recent years, have followed writer Jane Wells’s reflections on social-justice themes inspired by the Hunger Games cycle of novels and movies. In her Bird on Fire website, this week, Jane provides a quick overview of the entire saga (a great opportunity to catch up on the long story) and she reviews the final film in the series. Jane urges moviegoers to see the film, which she compares to the final episode of the MASH television series—about war, but really about exposing the horrors of war.
ED McNULTY REVIEW—For another perspective, check out Ed’s review of the film, which he recommends (4 out of 5 stars). Ed says: “With each film Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) grows more interesting.”
IN THE WORLD
One of our guiding principles: Good media builds good community. What does that mean? Enjoy these stories …
YES, ‘GOOD WILL’ IS POSSIBLE—GodSigns author Suzy Farbman writes about gathering around a holiday table with friends—and discovering that old wounds can be healed in the interest of togetherness. Thanks Suzy for this real-life holiday story of compassion and reconciliation.
REDISCOVER HOPE—Daniel Buttry’s inspiring new book We Are the Socks is full of true stories about men and women who risked pursuing peace even in the face of enormous challenges around the world. Read about Dan’s adventure in writing this new book. And, in a short video, Dan tells the surprising story behind the title.