REAL-LIFE SAINT BRINGS ‘HOPE’
COVER STORY—Father William Cunningham’s courageous pursuit of social justice might seem like a tale out of Hollywood—except that he really did devote his life to overcoming injustice and helping countless men and women lift their families out of poverty. Now, just in time for the year-end holidays, you can give some Hope for the City to friends—by supporting this new biography by award-winning journalist Jack Kresnak and Detroit’s Cass Community Publishing. Please, read our cover story by Dmitri Barvinok.
BEN PRATT IS BACK!
SALTY GRATITUDE—Yes, this is a big fish story! But it’s not a fisherman’s yarn. It’s a true tale about gratitude in a Gulf Shore community that leads many people—including author Benjamin Pratt’s family—to pitch in for a long day designed to fuel a local food bank. You’ll enjoy Ben’s latest column, which includes videos and—well, go on and read it, because we’re sure it will fuel your own ideas about generosity.
& 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.
This year, Jewish families began by lighting the first Hanukkah candle on the evening of December 6. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton provides an overview of the holiday and its traditions.
For Hanukkah, FeedTheSpirit brings us a guest writer: “Bubbies Latkes” is the story of a real-life Jewish grandmother, Susan Gartenberg, who recalls how her own grandmother taught her to make latkes.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING—The Western Christian Advent season began November 29 this year. Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Advent traditions. And new this week: She writes about the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas—and the religious milestone it represented in 1965.
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.
AND FROM THE FAR EAST—Buddhism may be waning in Japan, but the ancient traditions of Buddhism continue to find new adherents around the world. Stephanie reports on the Buddhist festival associated with lights Bodhi Day, also known as Rohatsu.
HOLIDAY FOODS—FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis stops by the Smithsonian Institution’s fascinating exhibit exploring American foodways. Bobbie shares highlights, including a salute to Julia Child, and shares an all-American recipe for a rich, cheesy corn casserole. It’s perfect for holiday meals, especially if you’ve got vegetarians at the table.
& 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—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.
- SUFFRAGETTE—Ed says “This is a film that every mother, and father, should be watching and discussing with their daughters and sons.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
- THE PEANUTS MOVIE—Charles Schultz’s creation is 65 years old—but this new adventure is lively fun for young and old. (4.5 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 a century ago.
- 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)
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, 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.
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 …
A TRANSFORMATIVE TEACHER—GodSigns author Suzy Farbman’s column this week tells the story of Joanna Fox, who became a teacher to get kids excited about reading and writing. She created a unique learning environment she calls the Dragonfly Cafe. Her work even inspired a winner of the Newbery Medal for children’s literature. In her column, Suzy tells us how this teacher’s constant encouragement of her students inspires such creativity.
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.