Cover Story: Celebrating 30 years of Ed McNulty’s Faith and Film writing in Visual Parables

Rediscover Some Great Movies with Ed McNulty

This week, we are celebrating Edward McNulty’s 30th anniversary of his Visual Parables Journal by publishing Ed’s personal reflections on his decades of moving between movie theaters, his role as an online journalist and his ongoing work with congregations and conferences. Here’s a tip: Have a pen and paper handy as you read this column because you’ll want to note some of the wonderfully thought-provoking films Ed mentions. After reading his column, you’ll have a couple of months worth of spirited viewing ahead of you—and maybe even a great program for your small group or congregation!

Also, this week, our Front Edge Publishing column describes Ed’s latest book, Jesus Christ Movie Star, which has enough material for an entire discussion series on the many ways moviemakers have portrayed Jesus. It’s a perfect book for individual reflection or group discussion.

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Valentines Day

All We Need Is Love?

A REAL-LIFE VALENTINE’S CARD—Columnist Martin Davis writes a heart-felt affirmation of enduring love, this week, to mark his 35th wedding anniversary with his wife Thelma. He writes: “I wish that I could tell you that all you need is love to make it this long. … This Valentine’s Day, I would like to share a list of survival tools that have been important for my wife and me over the long haul.” After you read this column, you’re likely to want to share it with friends—as well as someone you love.

A VERY POPULAR HOLIDAY

HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on a recent poll that shows more Americans get excited about Valentine’s Day than get excited about Christmas. That may be because Valentine’s Day is cheaper. In fact, Stephanie’s column includes links to some great food and DIY ideas plus some “awesome friend gifts” as well.

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Mahayana Buddhists recall the death of Buddha

PARINIRVANA DAYThe day Buddha reached complete Nirvana—Parinirvana— is observed by Mahayana Buddhists on Parinirvana Day. On this day, temples are opened to laypersons, laypersons bring gifts to monks and nuns—all focused on the teachings of Buddha.

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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

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GOD-SIGNS:
Mi Shebeirach

SUZY FARBMAN shares a personal story this week about the power of the traditional Jewish prayer for healing. The ancient prayer includes the words:
May the source of strength
Who blessed the ones before us
Help us find the courage
To make our lives a blessing

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FAITH & FILM 

Click on this image to learn more about the February 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal.

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:

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In a Deeply Divided Country, Our National Conversations Build Bridges

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.

Brenda Rosenberg

BRENDA ROSENBERG

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!

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VICTOR BEGG

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. 

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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.

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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

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‘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.

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ANNI REINKING

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.

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SUZY FARBMAN

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.

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DMITRI BARVINOK

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.

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FAITH & FILM 

RODNEY CURTIS

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

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:

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Cover Story: Girl Scouts, an art museum and Brenda Rosenberg are ‘Reuniting the Children of Abraham’

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THIS WEEK—More than 100 Girl Scouts from across Michigan gathered at the internationally renowned Detroit Institute of Arts for a one-day challenge to explore the many religious themes in the DIA’s collection. This elaborately planned day of cross-cultural discovery was part of the 2020 redesign and relaunch of Brenda Rosenberg’s innovative Children of Abraham peacemaking project.

David Crumm reports on this unique day of adventure—as well as new friendships that were sparked across racial, cultural and religious lines—during the various opportunities within the multimedia program. With the publication of this book, Brenda’s program now becomes a national model for building multi-generational interfaith relationships that you can easily share with friends, discuss in your small group—and consider adapting for your region.

What Is ‘Reuniting the Children of Abraham’?

JOIN THIS SPIRITUAL ADVENTUREReuniting the Children of Abraham is a small book of timeless religious wisdom that invites readers everywhere to experience the unique program Brenda Rosenberg has been sharing with groups and conferences by special arrangement. Now, Front Edge Publishing has collaborated with Brenda to produce a book-length overview of the many deep connections between Christians, Muslims and Jews. This week’s Front Edge column is a more detailed overview of the book, including praise from early readers, plus a short biography of Brenda and our own columnist Suzy Farbman, who wrote the Foreword to the book.

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Holidays & Festivals 2020

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE:

MEMORIES—
AND DIRE WARNINGS

Seventy-five years to the day of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, members of the United Nations collectively bow their heads for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Stephanie Fenton has the story about this year’s 2020 programs hosted by the UN in New York. She also reports on the need for continued emphasis on Holocaust education, especially in light of the rising tide of antisemitic attacks around the world. Stephanie’s story includes the latest Pew Research overview of how much Americans know about the Holocaust—plus links to several other important reports from the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Forbes.

In Ed McNulty’s FAITH & FILM section, this week, he reviews a Holocaust-related film that Netflix subscribers can stream at any time: The Photographer of MauthausenBased on a true story, Ed writes: “Though some grow weary of films dealing with the concentration camps of the Holocaust, I believe we should welcome each as one more piece of evidence of the toxic end result of antisemitism.”

Care to see all the holidays? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances—just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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Faith & Film

Click on this image to learn more about the January 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal.

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:

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Cover Story: Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s New Book Indicts Evangelical Christian Leaders Who Embrace Donald Trump

RECLAIMING DR. KING’S VISION OF A BELOVED COMMUNITY

LOVE CAN WIN, writes evangelical Christian theologian and activist Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in his new book, Revolution of Values. Please, read our Cover Story interview with Wilson-Hartgrove this week, which draws from the deep well of Dr. King’s wisdom about how American hearts and minds can change.

Wilson-Hartgrove also is a historian steeped in America’s religious history. He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated in the 1960s: Americans will change their minds when they see the faces of their neighbors at the heart of an issue. That’s the same foundation on which Dr. Gushee built his work on LGBT inclusion, the story he tells in Changing Our Mind. That’s also the core message of a widely cited Pew Research Center report this week.

We’ve got this inspiring story for you to honor and continue Dr. King’s message, this week.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON KING’S LEGACY

THE VIEW FROM UTAH—AND ITALY—The photo above shows the Rev. Dr. France A. Davis preaching at Utah’s largest African-American church. As a young man, Dr. Davis marched twice with King and has played a major role in groundbreaking relations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dominates life in Utah. Recently, two founding members of the International Association of Religion Journalists were involved in lifting up Dr. Davis’s prophetic voice to a global audience. This week to honor Dr. King’s legacy, Italian journalist Elisa di Benedetto brings us this story, a convergence of two journalists from two continents.
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And Speaking of Global Conversations

PART I—In our Front Edge Publishing column this week, Editor David Crumm shows readers some of the new resources we are developing to promote books, given the latest marketing trends we are seeing. The latest is a Religion News Service press release for 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln. Take a look at how we are trying to work with authors—and our readers—to foster a global conversation.

PART II—Another way many of our authors build an audience is by actively responding to opportunities to write for newspapers, magazines and other websites. Our marketing director Susan Stitt sometimes sends suggestions to authors. In other cases, authors develop their own media contacts. That’s the case with Victor Begg, author of Our Muslim Neighbors. Victor recently wrote an inspiring column, posted by a Florida newspaper, headlined: The Quran, the Bible and our Founding Fathers offer lessons to carry into 2020.

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Holidays & Festivals 2020

HOW WILL YOU HONOR DR. KING?

The holiday’s official name is “Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.,” but many people also refer to this annual milestone as: National Day of Service. Many adults alive today recall the long and bumpy journey to establishing this milestone to honor the civil rights leader. Holidays & Festivals expert Stephanie Fenton has the story for us, a column that also includes valuable links to the everything from lesson plans for teachers—to an inspiring overview of King’s life by global peacemaker Daniel Buttry.

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Care to see all the holidays? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances—just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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GOD-SIGNS STORY OF A SURVIVOR

SUZY FARBMAN concludes her three-part story about the resilient Michelle Gault, who has faced many challenges in life but has managed to hold her loved ones together through everything that has befallen her. In Suzy’s weekly columns, she points us toward the “God-Signs” that can renew our hopes, even in the face of tragedy.

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Click on this movie image of Paul Winfield, portraying Dr. King, to read Ed McNulty’s recommendations of seven films that recall Dr. King’s life and legacy.

Faith & Film

Click on this image to learn more about the January 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal.

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:

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Cover Story: Hallmarks of Successful Publishing in 2020 Are Quality and Community

As Susan Stitt’s Cover Story emphasizes, this photo shows what a successful author looks like in 2020—someone who is frequently taking part in public events to welcome new readers.

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TOP TRENDS FOR SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS

MARKETING DIRECTOR SUSAN STITT writes our Cover Story this week, drawing on both 2019 and 2020 data on trends in publishing. Turns out, the talented team behind ReadTheSpirit online magazine and our Front Edge Publishing House already is working hard on the latest innovations. If you are interested in how publishing works these days, please read Susan’s information-packed column, including lots of helpful tips and links. And, please, share this news with friends, today.

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AND SPEAKING OF 2020 TRENDS …

GLOBAL CONCERN FOR HEALTHY AGEING—The World Health Organization has declared the years between 2020 and 2030 a Decade of Action on Healthy Ageing. (Yes, we know, spellings of “ageing” and “aging” vary around the world.) Italian journalist and European coordinator for the International Association of Religion Journalists reports on a Vatican-cosponsored conference held in Rome to discuss how doctors, faith leaders and media professionals all can help to cope with this critical need for care.

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Invitation to a National Conversation on Books

EXPRESS YOURSELF! Just as our Cover Story explains, this week, we take to heart our commitment to serving an ever-growing community of writers, editors—and, most importantly, readers. Simply by reading this lineup of our weekly stories, you’re part of that community. We’re always looking for ways you can express yourself.

Thanks to a suggestion in a group email from Duncan Newcomer, author of the new 30 Days with Abraham Lincolnwe’re sharing this link to a request from New York Times editors who are asking readers to email a short description of a book that has influenced your life. The invitation is open to anyone—if you happen to spot the notice and send in an email. The deadline is 10 a.m. (ET) on January 15.

Then, here’s how a true community responds. Almost immediately after Duncan’s group email, Benjamin Pratt, the author of several books, emailed back to us that he has been so moved by Duncan’s book that he’s going to email the Times editors about how Duncan’s Lincoln book has touched his life. If you respond to the Times invitation, what book will you recommend? And, please, share your book note with us as well.

We know our readers enjoy opportunities to respond, because … after last week’s cover story about the idea of posting inspirational lines from our favorite books—we’ve already had a number of readers send us their favorite lines. In fact, special thanks to reader Debbie Valencia for actually sending us photos of quotes hanging on her refrigerator door! We loved your photos Debbie. And, stay tuned! We’ll have a follow-up column later this month. Want to send us your inspirational quotes? Or photos of the postings on your ‘fridge door, like Debbie? Email [email protected]

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What’s More Important than Family?

GodSigns—Over the years, Suzy Farbman has introduced us to men and women who are making the world a little better each day. Running through their lives are what Suzy calls “GodSigns,” spiritual connections that remind us all of our better selves. Suzy is inviting all of us to start 2020 with the inspirational three-part story of Michelle Brault. This week, please enjoy Part 2 of Michelle’s story. (There’s a quick link in that story to read Part 1, if you missed it.)

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Holidays & Festivals 2020

HOW WILL YOU HONOR DR. KING?

The holiday’s official name is “Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.,” but many people also refer to this annual milestone as: National Day of Service. Many adults alive today recall the long and bumpy journey to establishing this milestone to honor the civil rights leader. Holidays & Festivals expert Stephanie Fenton has the story for us, a column that also includes valuable links to the everything from lesson plans for teachers—to an inspiring overview of King’s life by global peacemaker Daniel Buttry.

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Care to see all the holidays? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances—just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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Click this image from Little Women to read Ed McNulty’s review.

Faith & Film

Click on this image to learn more about the January 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal.

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:

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Cover Story: Here’s Help for a Hopeful 2020—and an Invitation to Join this Adventure

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOPEFUL QUOTE?

COVER STORY—To kick off 2020, Martin Davis and David Crumm collaborated on a spiritual adventure that wound its way through our lives—and literature, as well. Together, from Washington D.C. and Michigan, Martin and David traded favorite quotes that trigger fond memories, great expectations and reminders about navigating this turbulent world. We had fun! We hope you’ll have fun following our adventure. Please, read this week’s Cover Story; then, please share it with friends; and, finally, send us your favorite quotes and we will plan another column embracing your suggestions.

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What’s More Important than Family?

GodSigns—Over the years, Suzy Farbman has introduced us to men and women who are making the world a little better each day. Running through their lives are what Suzy calls “GodSigns,” spiritual connections that remind us all of our better selves. Suzy is inviting all of us to start 2020 with the inspirational story of Michelle Brault. It’s quite a yarn and will stretch over three parts this month. Please, enjoy Part 1 and share this story with friends.

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Holidays & Festivals 2020

OUR NEW 2020 INTERFAITH CALENDAR debuts today, thanks to Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton. Please, take a quick look at these listings, which give you a spiritual shape of our New Year from many perspectives around the world. If you spot any we missed—or any mistakes—please let us know at [email protected]

THINK CHRISTMAS IS OVER? Think again! Christian traditions have branched into a complex array of calendars and customs. As this week begins, millions of Christians are marking Epiphany, and Stephanie has the story for us—plus, some Orthodox churches won’t mark Nativity (their term for Christmas) until January 7. If you haven’t taken down your Christmas tree and decorations already, you can make an excellent case for keeping them up another week! If anyone asks, just say, “I’m celebrating an ecumenical Christmas this year.”

IT’S TIME TO … LEARN MORE ABOUT POLICEThursday, January 9, is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (L.E.A.D), a good opportunity to take a moment and learn more about the police serve our communities everyday. We’ve got a great way to do that with a copy of 100 Questions and Answers about Police Officers.

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Care to see all the holidays? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances—just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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Click this image from Little Women to read Ed McNulty’s review.

Faith & Film

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:

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Cover Story: Remembering 6 spiritual heroes who touched our lives

In Memoriam … 

HE ‘TURNED ON’ AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY

RAM DASS—He turned a generation’s religious assumptions head over heels with the circular message on the square cover of his 1971 classic, Be Here Now. That was back when trying daily meditation could spark charges of cult-like behavior. How our hearts and minds have changed! Today, Pew tells us, 40 percent of Americans proudly say they meditate weekly, including half of evangelical Protestants. The Religion News Service obituary begins, “Ram Dass, a spiritual pied piper who introduced a generation of young Americans to Hindu meditation, died Sunday (Dec. 23) in Maui, Hawaii, where he lived and taught. He was 88.” And, here’s The New York Times obituary. As a journalist covering religious diversity for 45 years, David Crumm interviewed Ram Dass at various stages of his life. Here’s David’s last interview with Ram Dass from 2013.
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RACHEL HELD EVANS

A SPIRITUAL STORYTELLER—Our community of writers recognized Rachel Held Evans as a saint with remarkable talents for welcoming people into a Christian fellowship who might never have found their way through a church door. Our last interview with her was in 2015, focusing on her book Searching for Sunday. Of course, like most true saints, Rachel’s influence on this world continues long after her death. Here is a November column we published about her posthumously released column on LGBTQ inclusion. That column also includes links to other stories by and about Rachel, including the New York Times obituary.

DORIS DAY

A BRIGHT SPIRIT AND LOVER OF ANIMALS—Since our online magazine was founded in 2007, Doris Day has popped up regularly in many different contexts. Here’s a 2008 religion quiz about Christian Science where she makes a cameo. Rodney Curtis includes her in his delightful Spiritual Wanderer memoir. She also sent us a brief “thank you” note after we published Every Living Thingreligious reflections on caring for animals. Religion writers nationwide were puzzled that The New York Times obituary never mentioned her many active years in Christian Science. Fortunately, the Get Religion column did explore that part of her life in more depth for us.

W.S. MERWIN

ALWAYS SURPRISING US—When the poet died this year, at age 91, those of us who loved his work visited his world once again. Our contributing columnist Martin Davis collaborated with David Crumm on this reflection called A Spring Walk and an Old Oak Pew. Although many obituaries described him as Buddhist, The Los Angeles Times came closest to his lover’s quarrel with religion when it described him as “a post-Presbyterian Zen poet and channeler of ancient paradoxes.”

JEAN VANIER

‘SAVIOR OF PEOPLE ON THE MARGINS’—When Jean Vanier died, The New York Times obituary used that phrase in its headline. Like Doris Day and Merwin, Vanier was a touchpoint for so many of our writers and readers over the years that our home office received a flurry of emails after his death. One place we referred our friends was this Ed McNulty review praising the film about Vanier: Summer in the Forest. Perhaps you might want to see the film in honor of Vanier. Ed writes, “At a time when our news media are full of stories of political folly and corruption, this film can help keep alive faith in humanity and a hopeful future.”

JOHN DINGELL

WE ALL FELT THIS LOSS—Our entire publishing house team felt the loss of U.S. Rep. John Dingell earlier this year—because Dingell and his wife Debbie had labored over a Foreword for Clifford Worthy’s inspiring memoir, The Black Knight. Dingell’s father had played a crucial role in Worthy’s life, sending him to West Point. We published this story about a major event in Detroit honoring both Worthy and Dingell’s role in the book. Today, Worthy is the oldest living black graduate of the famous military academy. If you haven’t already, please order a copy of The Black Knightand you will find that Dingell’s affirmation of the American spirit in his Foreword is a stirring call to remember our core values in these troubled times.

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Holiday Cheer 

Kwanzaa: Celebrating African-American Values

WINDING DOWN THIS WEEK—Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration of African-American culture that was first celebrated half a century ago in 1966. Please, read Stephanie Fenton’s column on the festival, which includes inspiring quotes from a couple of Karenga’s messages.

Welcoming the New Year 2020

THE HOLIDAY STORYHolidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton has our 2020 New Year’s story with cameos from around the world and links to resources you can use.

AND, A FAMILY STORY—Contributing columnist Judy Gruen, who first appeared in our online magazine in 2008, has returned with a heart-warming story about New Year’s customs that united her family and friends for many years. The story involves a “surprise” birthday party and— Please, enjoy!

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Care to see all the holidays? It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances—just remember the address InterfaithHolidays.com

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Click this image from Little Women to read Ed McNulty’s review.

Faith & Film

Click on the image to learn about the December issue of Visual Parables Journal.

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:

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