IT’S EASY TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP …
FINDING HOPE AGAIN—Are you scared to look at the daily headlines? From our deep political divisions to our anxieties about the “others” in our communities—millions of Americans are more distrustful of the media than ever. Pew Research just reported this week that those divisions among us have “widened in the past five years.”
Here, we’re different. As a community of media professionals—we’re not willing to give in to despair. “Good media builds healthy community” is our team’s guiding principle. So, this week, our Cover Story is a broad array of examples highlighting our authors’ many ways to bring people together. And, each news item is an opportunity for you to make a difference, too. It’s surprisingly easy to make a difference.
SHE’S ‘LIVING A MIRACLE’—You’ll get a huge dose of inspiration from Brenda Rosenberg’s work, including her two books: Harnessing the Power of Tension and her new book Reuniting the Children of Abraham.
In last week’s cover story, we reported on the 100-plus Girl Scouts who gathered at the Detroit Institute of Arts to show the world that peace is possible—even across religious and cultural boundaries.
What we did not tell you, last week, is that Brenda did all of this while recovering from a stroke! The Jewish News just reported this week on the way Brenda can be considered a ‘Living a Miracle’ in her unusual approach to recovery so that she was healthy enough to preside at the big DIA event.
Are you feeling anxious this week? Right now, you can join this “Reuniting” effort by visiting Amazon to buy a copy of the book, then reviewing the book to encourage other Amazon readers. Plus you can go visit our YouTube channel and share our short video about Brenda’s work on your social media. Come on! It’ll make you feel a whole lot better—just ask Brenda!
RECLAIMING OUR AMERICAN DREAM—This week, you’ll also get a boost by reading this review of his book, Our Muslim Neighbors, by the Baptist author, pastor and peace activist Joe LaGuardia. The central theme of Joe’s column is the importance of Americans reclaiming our American dream. Joe praises Victor’s memoir for that central theme. Here’s how Joe puts it: “The beauty of the story is not in the religious sense of his writing, but in the folksy way he makes his story anyone’s story. He is not preachy or pushy. It is, simply, one American immigrant’s tale of earning and living the American Dream. We need a resuscitation of that dream today, a dream lost in the midst of our political and religious milieu of late.”
Feeling fearful this week? Well, you’ll feel a lot more confident—and you’ll even laugh at few of Victor’s stories—if you will visit Amazon to buy a copy of Victor’s book, then review the book for other Amazon readers. Plus, you can visit Victor’s own website to enjoy an excerpt of the book and find out about how to follow him on social media. If you do share about Victor on social media, you should know that February 5 is the #BookBirthday of his book.
MSU ‘BIAS BUSTERS’
ANSWERING OUR QUESTIONS—For years, the Michigan State University School of Journalism’s Bias Busters team has been “answering the questions everybody is asking but nobody is answering.” Here is the Amazon overview page for the many 100 Questions & Answers guidebooks that this award-winning team has produced. Feeling confused this week? Come on! Visit the MSU Amazon page and choose a couple of their books about groups of people whose lives you’d like to explore.
This week, we’re celebrating with MSU student Chloe Peters, who just won an MSU Diversity Research Showcase award for her work with the Bias Busters team. The Bias Busters’ book series touches thousands of lives every year. One example: A news story about the unique Chaldean museum in Michigan includes information from the MSU book about Chaldeans.
GET READY FOR LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY
DUNCAN NEWCOMER—Our newest author is crisscrossing his home state of Maine, talking with groups about the enduring power of Abraham Lincoln to pull Americans together again—reminding us of our “better angels.” This year, Duncan hopes to crisscross the U.S. as well. His book, 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln, “is like chicken soup for the soul, drawing on Abraham Lincoln’s character and courage for its wisdom. But ultimately, what emerges is a portrait of what made Lincoln extraordinary. In a word: reconciliation.” So writes the Editor of the Christian Science Monitor Mark Sappenfield.
Feeling angry about your political opponents this week? Don’t wait! Visit Amazon and get your own copy of this transformative book. Enjoy it over the course of a month, review the book on Amazon—and tell friends you’re starting to read this book to mark Lincoln’s birthday on February 12. Invite them to join you!
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
‘Opportunities to Grow and Learn’
DEBRA DARVICK—The author of This Jewish Life also produces a popular set of Picture a Conversation cards that help groups of people focus on the many vivid stories that we all share as human beings. This week, Debra writes about the birth of her second grandchild. She takes the occasion to reflect on the deeper meaning of life that we all share, including this line that perfectly captures our Cover Story theme this week: “The decades have taught me that dark moments, awful things, and utter messes are perfect opportunities to grow and learn.”
Are you feeling that it’s impossible to talk to the people around you this week? Go order a set of Debra’s cards from her website. You’ll quickly discover lots of inspiring ways you can start a conversation. Better yet, order her book from Amazon and you’ll find dozens of inspiring stories of men and women.
IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC SERVICE—One of the most refreshing commitments to public service we’ve seen recently is author Anni Reinking’s profession of faith in the public schools, where she is seeking a seat on her regional school board. Too many Americans today are weary of angry political feuding even at the level of school boards. Anni is the author of Not Just Black and White: A White Mother’s Story of Raising a Black Son in Multiracial America. In a new interview about her decision to get involved in her local school board, she writes: “A board member is a person to listen to all sides of an issue and make an educated and mutually beneficial decision.” That’s what we all wish elected officials would do, isn’t it?
Feeling that our American institutions are failing us? Get a boost of inspiration by ordering Anni’s book, which raises hard questions about diversity in America—but also offers hopeful answers.
HOPE-FILLED STORIES—Week after week, veteran journalist and author Suzy Farbman brings us stories she calls GodSigns about men and women who have overcome daunting challenges. This week’s story is quite a saga: Rita Dunker grew up in post-war Germany, but migrated to the U.S., married a Jewish husband, raised a caring family—and wound up extending her passion for caring into the launch of a center called The Barkshire. That’s a combination “dog resort” and “dog boarding” facility.
Feeling overwhelmed by the challenges you’re facing? Well, take a moment and order a copy of Suzy’s memoir, GodSigns, which is packed with real-life stories of hope and humor as she and her family and friends overcame a dire diagnosis of cancer. This book has lifted many readers’ spirits since it was first published. Like all of our books, it’s also available at Barnes & Noble.
PROTECTING US FROM PIRATES—Does that sound like a fanciful introduction to a children’s adventure story? Hardly. Our entire publishing house team—including all of our authors—need to be wary of the dark forces lurking online, including real-life pirates.
In our Front Edge Publishing column this week, Production Manager Dmitri Barvinok reports on the dangerous waters publishers encounter when pirates strike.
Want to see all of our books listed in one place? Check out our Front Edge Publishing Bookstore.
FAITH & FILM
AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW—Author, photographer and columnist Rodney Curtis makes it clear from the start of his annual Best Movies column that his taste varies significantly from the views of Hollywood’s power-brokers. Rodney writes: “I’ve done this list every year for a long time and I can’t remember an awards season where only one of my favorite films was nominated for an Oscar. But that happened this past year.”
Please, enjoy Rodney’s take on the Best Movies of 2019. And, if you’ve enjoyed Rodney’s work—please!—it’s high time you read one of his books. Here’s his Amazon author page.
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 are:
- LES MISERABLES—Don’t confuse this 2019 French film with the Victor Hugo classic, except in the film’s underlying theme. Ed gives this provocative story about France’s present-day oppressed minorities 5 out of 5 stars and says it’s well worth making an effort to see this movie.
- DOLOMITE IS MY NAME—Ed writes, “This is one of Eddy Murphy’s funniest movies, but due to its extremely vulgar language and nudity, not one that I can recommend for any faith group to discuss. Director Craig Brew and the scriptwriters seem to be trying to outdo Quentin Tarantino in the use of the F word, so be forewarned.” He gives the film 4 out of 5 stars.
- 1917—Ed writes, “The action in most WWI films is confined to the trenches, but Sam Mendes epic is a journey film—one of just 9 miles, but given the obstacles, the trek couldn’t be more difficult and harrowing if it were 900. It is a race against time, and the stakes are high.” He gives the film 5 out of 5 stars.
- JUST MERCY—”Within ten minutes into the film I knew it belonged near the top of my annual 10 Best Films list,” Ed writes. (5 stars)
- THE TWO POPES—”Brazilian director Fernando Merilles (City of God and The Constant Gardener) makes theological discourse exciting in this speculative film about the encounters between Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) and Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins).” (4.5 stars)