Cover Story: Exploring the sin of structural racism through Hollywood’s lens

Film Critic Ed McNulty’s Crash Course on Racism—
Through 10 Movies He’s Sharing Nationwide

FROM ‘SELMA’ TO ‘DETROIT’—The national news network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) invited faith-and-film critic Ed McNulty to publish a list of 10 films “that expose and explore the cultural effects of structural racism.” That denomination is encouraging congregations nationwide to preach, teach and talk about racism, this summer. That’s true of the writers who contribute to our ReadTheSpirit weekly magazine, as well. Readers have thanked us for the special focus in our recent issues on the deep roots and complex structures of racism. This week, thanks to Ed and the Presbyterian Church, we can add this crash course at the movies. Please, enjoy this column by Ed and share it with friends this week.

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And Speaking of Hollywood’s Lens—
Lincoln and an Almost-Forgotten Friend

QUIET FIRE, this week, recalls the 2012 film Lincoln—and a close friend to the Lincoln family: Elizabeth Keckley, a heroic and very successful former slave who rose into Washington D.C.’s high society as one of the city’s most popular dress designers. This week, Quiet Fire author Duncan Newcomer is recommending the film in part because it shows a dramatic encounter between Lincoln and Mrs. Keckley about the future of race in America. Plus, Duncan gives us links to learn much more about this all-but-forgotten woman, who played an important role in our history. Please, enjoy this column and share it with friends.

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Remembering U.S. Rep. John Lewis

A Courageous Prophet of Hope

OUR WRITERS AND AUTHORS are mourning the passing on July 17 of civil rights pioneer and U.S. Rep. John Lewis. This has been a somber week for anyone who cares about peacemaking because of Lewis’s passing and the death, also on July 17, of C.T. Vivian who many journalists, community leaders and authors regarded as another great prophet of the civil rights movement.

Only recently, Duncan Newcomer published a powerful true story of Lewis living out his belief: “People can change.” This wasn’t merely a casually phrase for Lewis. These words were part of a dramatic reconciliation Lewis had in recent years with a man who tried to kill him in the 1960s, during a nonviolent civil rights protest. Please read this column that highlights Lewis’s courage and wisdom. Then, if you are inspired by this column, please share it with friends.

And Since We’re Focusing on Hollywood …

WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY ‘JOHN LEWIS—GET IN THE WAY‘ The documentary currently is streaming for free on Amazon Prime. Through mid-August, 2020, the film also can be streamed directly through PBS. (NOTE TO OUR READERS: The story about Lewis reconciling with the man who tried to kill him, many years ago, is part of a section of the film about the Freedom Riders—starting at about the 16-minute mark.)

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Faith in a Time of Coronavirus

Religious Leaders on: Finding Faith in a Pandemic

PULITZER-WINNING RELIGION WRITER PEGGY FLETCHER STACK writes this week—at the website of the International Association of Religion Journalists—about the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s efforts to spark global discussion, called Coronaspection. Please, read Peggy’s story, watch the brief film clip from the project—and share this resource with friends to spark further conversations.

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And, Speaking of Global Dialogue— 

CHRISTIAN ETHICIST DAVID GUSHEE is circling the globe with two of his books that have helped to foster LGBTQ inclusion in thousands of Christian families and congregations.

His landmark book, which he describes as the most important book in his long career, is Changing Our MindCurrently, that book is being translated into Mandarin Chinese, Swahili in Africa and Georgian in Eurasia. This week, Gushee also announced that the second edition of his earlier Kingdom Ethics, which Gushee updated to stress the need to include LGBTQ Christians, will be translated into Russian, Ukrainian and Korean.

Changing Our Mind is a shorter book, written in a compelling, personal style for general readers wrestling with Christian ethics on sexuality. Kingdom Ethics is Gushee’s larger, more-comprehensive reference work on many ethical issues, published nearly two decades ago in collaboration with the late Glen Stassen.

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We Are Helping America’s Caregivers


IN PART 2 OF OUR SPECIAL FOCUS ON CAREGIVING—Susan Stitt writes about the many books our publishing house has produced to help with the challenges of caring for those we love. Please read this week’s Front Edge Publishing column about valuable books that can help you—or someone you love—cope with caregiving.

And, here’s an easy link to Part 1 on Caregiving, which also includes several share-able links to the latest data on caregiving, including a newsy chart that sums up these challenges nationwide.

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Holidays & Festivals

CARE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR MILLIONS OF VETERANS? Click on this cover image to visit the Amazon page for the Michigan State University Bias Busters’ book, “100 Questions and Answers about Veterans.” Are you a veteran who wishes family, friends and co-workers knew more about your experiences? This book is designed to help non-veterans’ most common questions. Consider ordering several copies and give them to people around you.

HIRE A VETERAN DAY

JULY 25 is this annual observance to encourage employers to consider veterans when hiring. In addition to the 19 million veterans living in the U.S., today, another 200,000 transition from active service to civilian life, every year. Forbes Magazine, this week, published a column headlined, Why Hiring Veterans During Covid-19 Could Give Your Company The Competitive Advantage It Needs. INC magazine published, 6 Reasons You Should Hire a Vet.

DOWNSIZED HAJJ IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET OUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

The thousands of Muslim men and women who normally would be packing up for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca this month aren’t going anywhere, this year. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is turning this event that normally involves millions into a symbolic ritual for about 1,000 people. This is an opportunity for all of us to reach out to Muslim neighbors and co-workers and ask about family customs—as our holiday story by Stephanie Fenton suggests. If you’d like to simply skip ahead to ordering your own copy of Victor Begg’s Our Muslim Neighbors—which includes a section on the Hajj—please follow this link to Amazon right now.

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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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Click this photo to read Ed McNulty’s 5-star review of the movie version of Hamilton.

FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema.

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 these films available for streaming now. 

  1. HAMILTONEd gives 5 out of 5 stars to the film version of the award-winning Hamilton play.
  2. THE HALF OF IT—Ed writes, “If you are looking for a feel good movie that is also insightful, then director/writer Alice Wu has just the film for you. Centering on three high school seniors, this coming of age film stands far above most others about teenagers that I have seen.”
  3. ONLY—”The plot of director/writer Takashi Doscher’s apocalyptic film differs from what is transpiring today in that most of the pandemic victims are women.” (4 stars)
  4. ADU—”Spanish director Salvador Calvo serves up three stories set in Africa, two of which really make us feel the impact of the world refugee crisis.” (4.5 stars)
  5. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  6. THE RESISTANCE BANKER“Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)
  7. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  8. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  9. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  10. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)

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Cover Story: As millions of Christians move toward activism, you should meet Mae Elise Cannon, an ethical organizer

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What We Need to Know—To Take Action Now

A CRASH COURSE ON FAITH AND INJUSTICE

Just as Marie Kondo has built an international following for her advice on organizing your home—Mae Elise Cannon has become a leading Christian expert on sorting out the often-confusing impulses of your heart.

Mae Elise Cannon is a Christian ethical organizer. Her encyclopedic new handbook is titled Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age and covers lots of life-and-death topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement and the rights of LGBTQ people. Her book is as timely as today’s front-page news.

Please, read our Cover Story and share it with friends. Cannon’s book comes with study questions woven into the text, making it perfect for small-group discussions in congregations.

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Lincoln’s Own Indictment of White Responsibility

DUNCAN NEWCOMER’S QUIET FIRE column, this week, follows on a central theme of our cover story with Mae Elise Cannon. One of the most difficult truths of the Black Lives Matter movement is that White America bears the responsibility for our institutional racism. In her book, Cannon puts it this way: “Racism in 21st-century America is a reality. Acknowledging racism means understanding that white people hold social and institutional power over people of color.”

In his column, Duncan reminds us that—even as he was proposing emancipation during the Civil War in 1862—Lincoln understood this crucial point, as well. Please, read Duncan’s column and share it with friends.

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And—Speaking of Social Responsibility

America’s Explosion of Unpaid Caregivers

DID YOU KNOW that millions more Americans suddenly became caregivers in the midst of this pandemic? Our common estimate for years was that 43 million Americans served—either by choice or necessity—as caregivers. Now, studies show it’s more than 53 million! Our publishing house has valuable resources for caregivers. Please read this week’s Front Edge Publishing column about a valuable book that can help you—or someone you love—cope with caregivingNOTE: This column also gives readers several share-able links to the latest data on caregiving, including a newsy chart you can share with friends—and a major report on the scope and scale of caregiving, today, which is free to download and share.

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Holidays & Festivals

DRAMATICALLY DOWNSIZED HAJJ IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET OUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

The thousands of Muslim men and women who normally would be packing up for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca this month aren’t going anywhere, this year. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is turning this event that normally involves millions into a symbolic ritual for about 1,000 people. This is an opportunity for all of us to reach out to Muslim neighbors and co-workers and ask about family customs—as our holiday story by Stephanie Fenton suggests.

If you’d like to simply skip ahead to ordering your own copy of Victor Begg’s Our Muslim Neighbors—which includes a section on the Hajj—please follow this link to Amazon right now.

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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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Click this movie photo to read Ed McNulty’s review of Tom Hanks in the World War II adventure Greyhound.

FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema.

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 these films available for streaming now. 

  1. GREYHOUNDEd gives 4.5 stars to Tom Hanks in Greyhound. Ed writes, “Hanks turns in an excellent performance as the rookie commander who feels the pressure of his baptism by fire.”
  2. THE RESISTANCE BANKEREd writes, “Dutch director Joram Lürsenfor shows us one more way in which an occupied people resisted Nazi tyranny. I love the way in which through the years such filmmakers manage to present a fresh view of WW 2 and of Nazi persecution.” (4.5 stars)
  3. BAMBOOZLED—Ed reaches back to 2000 to highly recommend Spike Lee’s “attack on entrenched racism in this, the funniest and hardest hitting satire about American television since Network!”
  4. MALCOLM X—This week, Ed writes: “This review was written for the December 1992 issue of Visual Parables. I am bringing it up from the archives because of a new project highlighting ten films I believe every American white person needs to see in order to understand the currently debated topics of systemic racism and white privilege. With a few minor exceptions, the text appears as originally printed, but the two Scripture passages and a set of questions for discussing the film are additions.”
  5. BOYS STATE—Ed writes, “The new documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss is an interesting look at our democratic process in miniature, as seen at a Boys State meeting, one of 49 held each year in every state but Hawaii since the mid Thirties, sponsored by the American Legion.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  6. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  7. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  8. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  9. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  10. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)

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Cover Story: In Our Struggle for Freedom, the Truth is Not in Our Statues—It’s in Our Souls

A Tale of 2 Artists and 3 Great Souls

Why Do Some Statues Need to Come Down?

A TALE OF 2 GREAT SOULS—Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer frames our Cover Story this week with this column about two great souls who are frequently in the news this month: Abraham Lincoln and the poet and author James Baldwin.

Thousands of books have been written about Lincoln, including Duncan’s own 30 Days with Abraham Lincoln. Now, Baldwin’s wisdom is being lifted up in our national conversation in new ways almost every week. His authority has been growing especially since Ta-Nehisi Coates invoked him in the 2015 National-Book-Award-winning Between the World and Me, Raoul Peck celebrated him in the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro and then a movie version of Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk became an Oscar-winning film in 2018. As recently as July 2, The New York Times asked: “Can James Baldwin Make Sense of Today?”

Please read Duncan’s answer to that question posed by the Times, written in light of the national wave of concern about racist memorials—and the legacy of Lincoln.

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Then, how should we portray Lincoln?

Artists’ perspectives are as divided as today’s public debates

A TALE OF 2 ARTISTS—Today, a growing number of Americans agree that the so-called Emancipation Memorial in Washington D.C.—and its duplicate in Boston—need to come down. City officials in Boston already have removed their copy of the statue. What most Americans don’t know is that this 1876 statue by a White artist was flawed from the day of its dedication—and that Black artists began revising our public images of Lincoln more than half a century ago. One such ground-breaking Black artist was William Edouard Scott, whose very different portrait of Lincoln—with Frederick Douglass—was unveiled in D.C. in 1943.

Please, read our story about these two dramatically different artists’ perspectives and share it with friends this week.

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A Reminder to All of Us …

From Civil Rights Leader John Lewis: ‘People Can Change’

OUR THIRD GREAT SOUL THIS WEEK is civil rights pioneer and U.S. Representative John Lewis. Duncan Newcomer brings our Cover Story columns full circle with a reminder of Lewis’s powerful message: “People can change.” This isn’t merely a casually hopeful phrase. These words were part of a dramatic reconciliation Lewis had in recent years with a man who tried to kill him in the 1960s, during a nonviolent civil rights protest.

Once again, please read this column that highlights Lewis’s courage and wisdom. Then, if you are inspired by this column, please share it with friends.

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More from Our Writers …

Resources For Non-Black Parents Of Black Children 

DR. ANNI REINKING is an important part of the national conversation about race and racism, this year, because of her scholarly research, as well as her own life experiences, summed up in her book Not Just Black and White. On June 6, Anni wrote our two-part ReadTheSpirit Cover Story: One story was headlined, What now? Dr. Anni Reinking Reminds Us It’s ‘Not Just Black and White,’ and then the second story was, Dr. Anni Reinking on ‘What Can I Do Now?’

After that, Anni connected with the journalism network HARO and played a key role in another national story headlined, 9 Resources for Non-Black Parents of Black Children, Recommended by Experts and Families. This appears in Romper online magazine, part of the giant Bustle Digital Group, which has millions of readers especially focusing on young women.

Please read our story about how Anni connected with Romper and what the magazine reported in this week’s Front Edge Publishing column.

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Holidays & Festivals

Dramatically Downsized Hajj Is an Opportunity to Meet Our Muslim Neighbors

The thousands of Muslim men and women who normally would be packing up for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca this month aren’t going anywhere, this year. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is turning this event that normally involves millions into a symbolic ritual for about 1,000 people. This is an opportunity for all of us to reach out to Muslim neighbors and co-workers and ask about family customs—as our holiday story by Stephanie Fenton suggests.

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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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FAITH & FILM 

CLICK THIS IMAGE to learn more about the July 2020 issue of Ed McNulty’s Visual Parables Journal, a monthly online magazine that is packed with complete study guides to discuss faith perspectives on contemporary cinema. This new July issue includes discussion guides for Spike Lee’s new Da 5 Bloods as well as See You Yesterday, Spike Lee’s earlier Malcolm X, Irresistible—and other movies as well.

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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 these films available for streaming now. 

  1. MALCOLM X—This week, Ed writes: “This review was written for the December 1992 issue of Visual Parables. I am bringing it up from the archives because of a new project highlighting ten films I believe every American white person needs to see in order to understand the currently debated topics of systemic racism and white privilege. With a few minor exceptions, the text appears as originally printed, but the two Scripture passages and a set of questions for discussing the film are additions.”
  2. BOYS STATE—Ed writes, “The new documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss is an interesting look at our democratic process in miniature, as seen at a Boys State meeting, one of 49 held each year in every state but Hawaii since the mid Thirties, sponsored by the American Legion.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  3. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  4. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  5. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  6. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  7. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  8. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  9. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  10. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)

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Cover Story: Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil on ‘Becoming Brave, Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now’

It’s Time to Channel the Tidal Wave

The dramatic wave of support for the Black Lives Matter campaign shows an astonishing change in American awareness of systemic racism. There is overwhelming support for justice right now. Pew says 67 percent of all Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement.

So—now is the time to channel that tidal wave toward change, says the Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil. Now is the time—as her new book urges—that all of us should be Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now.

Please read our Cover Story, this week, which includes an interview with McNeil about her national focus on teaching about the hard work of reconciliation and justice. This summer, she is publishing two, valuable new books—Becoming Brave and a second book that is more of a “toolbox” for working toward justice. These books are perfectly timed for individual reading and discussions in congregations nationwide.

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We Contribute to the National Conversation Every Week

IF YOU FOLLOW our online magazine on a weekly basis (sign up for free email updates via the green box in the upper-right corner), then you know that our community of writers is deeply involved in the national conversation about diversity. Every week, we bring you fresh links to what our writers are doing and saying. This week, Victor Begg (author of Our Muslim Neighbors), spoke with the Christian Science Monitor as the CSM’s Editorial Board emphasizes the importance of inter-religious cooperation in response to COVID-19.

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Holidays & Festivals

FOURTH OF JULY:

What’s Going on at Mount Rushmore?

STEPHANIE FENTON, our Holidays & Festivals columnist, reports on the holiday—and also includes the latest news (and news links) to this year’s controversial plans by President Trump to bring back fireworks to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Why Did Lincoln say, ‘A Man Is Responsible for his Face’?

OUR QUIET FIRE COLUMN, this week, explores the importance of monuments—and the important of our individual faces—as we all grapple with our place and our vocation in this world. Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer takes us to Mount Rushmore—and also to Asia with the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton. What is the scale of your life? What monuments inspire you? What monuments move you to action? Please, share this column with friends, this week.

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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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How about Some Pure Escapism!?!

RODNEY CURTISour resident photographer, author and all-around funny guy, reminds us this week that—hey!—in the midst of these very troubling times …. yes, we also need to laugh and have fun with family.

 

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And, Speaking of Family Fun …

SPECIAL THANKS to all of our readers who sent texts, social-media messages and even phoned to share praise for last week’s marvelous cover story by Elisa Di Benedetto in Italy and Martin Davis in the D.C. area—who managed to cook up a shared pot of minestrone soup across the 4,300 miles that separate them. Talk about social distancing at dinner time!!

Celebrate Global Culture: Ask Friends to Virtually Bake Bread with You!

THIS WEEK, we are following up with a reminder of an easy way to connect with diverse religious and cultural traditions around the world—by baking bread.

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FAITH & FILM 

NO, THIS IS NOT A SCENE from a protest today. It’s a screenshot from Spike Lee’s movie biography of Malcom X. Click on this photo to read Ed McNulty’s column about this 1992 film.

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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 these films available for streaming now. 

  1. MALCOLM X—This week, Ed writes: “This review was written for the December 1992 issue of Visual Parables. I am bringing it up from the archives because of a new project highlighting ten films I believe every American white person needs to see in order to understand the currently debated topics of systemic racism and white privilege. With a few minor exceptions, the text appears as originally printed, but the two Scripture passages and a set of questions for discussing the film are additions.”
  2. BOYS STATE—Ed writes, “The new documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss is an interesting look at our democratic process in miniature, as seen at a Boys State meeting, one of 49 held each year in every state but Hawaii since the mid Thirties, sponsored by the American Legion.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  3. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  4. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  5. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  6. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  7. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  8. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  9. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  10. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)

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Cover Story: Across Thousands of Miles, Friends Still Connect to Feed Our Families and Our World

Reconnecting in a Season of Separation

SHARING A POT OF FRESH SUMMER SOUP ACROSS 4,300 MILES

COVER STORY—Can something as simple as a pot of soup help us to reconnect, even the midst of this global pandemic? Two regular contributors to this online magazine are Elisa Di Bendetto and Martin Davis—who are physically separated by 4,300 miles. She is based in Italy; he’s near Washington D.C. They became friends through the International Association of Religion Journalists and have visited in person occasionally over the years. As spring turns to summer, they both were reminded via email and social media that their thoughts were turning toward their mutual love of cooking with fresh ingredients, especially the first crop of summer vegetables. Today they’re coming together to talk about an Italian classic—minestrone—plus they are sharing colorful photos as well as their personal recipes. Please share this story with a friend—and perhaps share one of your own summer recipes as well.

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And Speaking of Diverse Connections …

MSU Bias Busters Help Improve Education for All

IMPROVING EDUCATION is one of our nation’s greatest challenges in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic and economic downturn. Millions of us depend on the reporting of journalists about the best ideas for maintaining—and improving—our patchwork school systems nationwide.

One of the biggest challenges reporters face is the ever-growing diversity in communities large and small. Now, our own Michigan State University Bias Busters team, under the direction of Joe Grimm—an award-winning team that has produced a long-running series of books to help understand diversity—is helping the reporters who are part of the Education Writers Association. Please, read this story about the challenges journalists face in helping all of us to improve educational opportunities—and you’ll also be able to get a free copy of the guide, if you wish. And, please, share this column with friends who work in our schools—and friends who care about our teachers and students.

BREAKING NEWS FROM AP…

Joe Grimm and the MSU Bias Busters keep us up to date on the proper way to write about our diverse world—including a new Bias Busters column this week, explaining that Associated Press has just agreed to capitalize the “B” in the term “Black.”

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And Speaking of AP …

WHY DO WE REFER TO LINCOLN’s ‘FIRE’ as ‘QUIET‘?

IN HIS ‘QUIET FIRE’ series this week, Duncan Newcomer focuses on that word “Quiet” in the title of his long-running, weekly radio series Abraham Lincoln—Quiet Fire.

In our era when politicians seem to be in competition for the loudest and longest orations, Lincoln reminds us that brevity often is the sincerest sign of heart-felt communication. Please, read this week’s story about a particularly poignant talk by Lincoln—which we only have today because an Associated Press correspondent insisted that the president jot down his remarks on a slip of paper as the presidential train pulled away from the station.

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Holidays & Festivals

Ready for Flags, Food & Fireworks?

STEPHANIE FENTON reports that home-fireworks sales are “sky high” this year! That’s because, backyard barbecues will be firing up as thousands of events nationwide turn from public to private. Most patriotic parades and festivals are cancelled this year—but that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t holding festivities: In fact, residential fireworks sales are soaring. Please, read Stephanie Fenton’s column—which includes a prominent, helpful link to fireworks safety precautions!

What are we reading for ‘Pride Month’?

AMERICANS ARE READING, this summer, about diversity at a rate we’ve never seen! This month, Americans also are ordering books about sexuality and gender because this is LGBT Pride Month, set in June to honor the activists at Stonewall in June 1969. Susan Stitt writes about some of the great books you can get right now to explore these issues.

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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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FAITH & FILM 

Click on this image from ‘Irresistible’ to read Ed McNulty’s review.

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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 these 10 films available for streaming now. 

  1. IRRESISTIBLE—Ed writes, “This is the delightful story of a political operative who might be too smart for himself. Director/writer Jon Stewart’s political satire does not hedge by conjuring up fictitious names of political parties, though the characters themselves are made-up. Steve Carell’s Gary Zimmer is a political consultant of the Democratic Party, and Rose Byrne’s Faith Brewster works for the Republican National Committee.” (4.5 out of 5 stars)
  2. SWEETHEART—Ed writes, “Director J.D. Dillard also co-wrote the screenplay of this tense thriller set on a desert island. The sweetheart of the title is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons), who finds herself swept up on the sandy beach of a tropical island.” (4 stars)
  3. HEARTS BEAT LOUDBecause of Kiersey Clemons’s new film Sweetheart, Ed reaches back to 2017 to recommend this earlier film in which she starred.
  4. DA 5 BLOODSEd urges viewers to see this 5-star direct-to-streaming film from Spike Lee about five Vietnam veterans.
  5. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  6. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  7. REDISCOVERING ‘INSIGHT’—One of the great gems of classic TV was the Insight series produced by Paulist Productions. This week, Ed looks back at that remarkable and long-running series, which included a Who’s Who of top Hollywood talent. Through its 250 episodes, viewers saw performances by stars including Carroll O’Connor, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, June Lockhart, Celeste Holm, Meg Tilly and Patty Duke. Best of all, Ed shares with us the YouTube link to enjoy many of these classic episodes.
  8. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  9. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)
  10. HALA—”Writer/director Minhal Baig brings us a very unusual version of the teenager coming of age story. Who has ever filmed this from the perspective of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, daughter of strict Pakistani parents who are only half acclimated to their new country? Although the pace of the film might try the patience of some viewers, it offers a rewarding time for those concerned about a young woman on the cusp of discovering her freedom.” (4 stars)

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Cover Story: Greg Garrett Helps Us Understand Hollywood’s Role in Systemic Racism

‘A Long, Long Way: Hollywood’s Unfinished Journey from Racism to Reconciliation’

COVER STORY—There’s not a more timely book this summer for individual reading and small-group discussion than media scholar Greg Garrett’s new exploration of systemic racism in Hollywood feature films.

As global protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death continue to rattle the foundations of major institutions worldwide—one the biggest problems is the global dominance of racial imagery flowing from American studios. Why is Hollywood such a vital part of the Black Lives Matter effort to open up discussions of systemic racism? In his new book, Garrett says it’s because movies become a deeply embedded part of our own self image.

Please, read this week’s cover story and recommend this book to friends as a way to spark discussion about understanding Hollywood’s legacy of racism.

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One Solution: We’re All Producers Now!

NAJAH BAZZY:
‘Wisdom to Navigate this Tragedy’

NAJAH BAZZY’S PRAYER—Our team is overwhelmed with new columns—and videos—coming from our writers who are reaching out in positive ways through the power of social media. After all, two-thirds of Americans now support the Black Lives Matter protests (and 38 percent “strongly support” this movement) according to a June 12 Pew Research report. Are you tired of what Hollywood is broadcasting? Now, you hold a TV studio in the palm of your hand.

Last week, Zaman International founder (and CNN and People magazine hero) Najah Bazzy broadcast a prayer for George Floyd, his family—and all the men and women spreading the call for justice. She used the power of her own smartphone, coupled with the broad audience of #CNNHeroesSpeakOut. Here is her video, which you can share with others.

VICTOR BEGG: ‘God Intended Our Colorful Diversity’

VICTOR is the author of Our Muslim Neighbors: Achieving the American Dream, An Immigrant’s Memoir. He has been very active in writing about the complex challenges of embracing racial, religious and cultural diversity. He has a unique perspective because he is a Muslim, born in India, whose family has been living in the heart of diverse communities for generations. He is a veteran of using social media—and news media—to help spread his message. Victor’s latest column has appeared nationwide in newspapers and also was posted on the widely read IslamiCity web hub, headlined: “Find Source of Racial Divisiveness”.

 

ANNI REINKING: ‘We’re Breathing Racism’

ANNI is both a nationally known scholar studying the racial challenges in education and family life—and the mother of an African-American son. Like Najah and Victor, Anni reaches out in many ways through her teaching, consulting and advocacy work. She has been featured in media interviews and also has written her own wise columns, including this recent ReadTheSpirit cover story.

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Holidays & Festivals

FLAG DAY WISDOM FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN

QUIET FIREThis week’s episode in Duncan Newcomer’s Quiet Fire series about the spiritual life of Abraham Lincoln takes us to Lincoln’s dramatic journey toward Washington D.C. in 1861. One key ceremony in that cross-country journey was the raising of a new American flag in Philadelphia.

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Click this image of Brosnan to read Susan’s column.

FATHER’S DAY IS COMING

GOOD NEWS! There’s still time to send a great gift, writes Susan Stitt in our Front Edge Publishing column this week. Susan recommends 7 books that are sure to put a smile on Dad’s face—and remind him of your thoughtfulness as he reads these stories. In fact, you just mind find that a good book sparks a great, fresh discussion with your Dad. One of Susan’s recommendation is as timely as this week’s Parade magazine cover story with James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan. Susan recommends a book that digs into the core values behind Bond’s remarkable career.

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What are we reading—
for ‘Pride Month’?

AMERICANS ARE READING, this summer, about diversity at a rate we’ve never seen! This month, Americans also are ordering books about sexuality and gender because this is LGBT Pride Month, set in June to honor the activists at Stonewall in June 1969. This week, Susan Stitt writes about some of the great books you can get right now to explore these issues. Please read Susan’s column and share these book ideas with friends.

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Celebrating 10 Years with Rodney Curtis

SURVIVING LEUKEMIAIn his always-uplifting style, Rodney Curtis writes: “My life ended ten years ago. But it’s okay; I got over it.” That major milestone a decade ago was a diagnosis of leukemia. Rodney even wrote a book about this chapter of his life: A ‘Cute’ Leukemia. This week, he looks back and thanks all the people who helped him through that year.

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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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FAITH & FILM 

Click this photo to read Ed McNulty’s 5-star review of See You Yesterday.

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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 these 10 recommending videos available for streaming right now. 

  1. SEE YOU YESTERDAY—Ed writes, “This science fiction thriller by first-time director Stefon Bristol and his co-writer Fredrica Bailey boasts Spike Lee as one of its producers. With its ripped-from-the-headlines relevancy in regard to police brutality you might think it was made last week, but it actually was released a little over a year ago when another shooting of a black man by the police was in the headlines. Indeed, its genesis goes back even further when Bristol had made a short film and Spike Lee  helped him to expand it into its present feature length. With many #Black Lives Matter news clips interspersed throughout, the film seems like a mixture of Back to the Future, The Hate You Give and When They See Us.” (5 out of 5 stars)
  2. BOB ROBERTS—Ed reaches back to 1992 to highly recommend this political satire starring Tim Robbins.
  3. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  4. REDISCOVERING ‘INSIGHT’—One of the great gems of classic TV was the Insight series produced by Paulist Productions. This week, Ed looks back at that remarkable and long-running series, which included a Who’s Who of top Hollywood talent. Through its 250 episodes, viewers saw performances by stars including Carroll O’Connor, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, June Lockhart, Celeste Holm, Meg Tilly and Patty Duke. Best of all, Ed shares with us the YouTube link to enjoy many of these classic episodes.
  5. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  6. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)
  7. HALA—”Writer/director Minhal Baig brings us a very unusual version of the teenager coming of age story. Who has ever filmed this from the perspective of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, daughter of strict Pakistani parents who are only half acclimated to their new country? Although the pace of the film might try the patience of some viewers, it offers a rewarding time for those concerned about a young woman on the cusp of discovering her freedom.” (4 stars)
  8. 7500—”When a thriller, and Patrick Vollrath’s film is certainly one, begins with a Gandhi quotation, you can be sure that I will be watching with an extra amount of attention!” (4 stars)
  9. A HIDDEN LIFE—Want to learn more about courageous peacemakers? “Terrence Malick raises important questions about faith and loyalty to one’s country versus loyalty to one’s conscience. And how do you know that you are right when most everyone else is of the opposite view? These are universal questions, applicable here today as well as in 1940s Europe.” (The Franz Jagerstatter story is streaming from Amazon; also from Netflix’s DVD service.)
  10. FORBIDDEN—”This 36-year-old TV film, directed by Anthony Page and written by Leonard Gross, is another worthy film to add to the small number that pay tribute to the too-few Germans who opposed Adolph Hitler. Like Alone in Berlin, this film is set in Berlin. It is based on the non-fiction book by Leonard Gross The Last Jews in Berlin and stars the great French actress Jacqueline Bisset as the real life Countess Maria von Maltzan.” (4.5 stars)
  11. ALONE IN BERLIN—”Most WW 2 era films about resistance to Nazi tyranny are set in France, Poland, or some other occupied country, so Vincent Perez’s story of a middle-aged German couple becoming disillusioned with Hitler is most welcome. Based on Hans Fallada’s novel Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Every Man Dies Alone), it is a fictionalized version of what happened to the real-life Otto and Elise Hampel.” (4.5 stars)

 

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Cover Story: What now? Dr. Anni Reinking reminds us ‘It’s Not Just Black and White’

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s staff provided this photo of her overseeing the two-block-long mural she had painted not far from the White House.

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What can we do, now?

ANNI REINKING is a researcher and educational consultant with a specialty on the racial dynamics shaping the lives of children and families. This week, she reminds us of two important truths. First, Americans have been “breathing” the air of racism for decades. This traumatic moment since the death of George Floyd is an opportunity to recognize that hard truth—and begin to clear the air. Then, second, as a teacher, author and the mother of an African-American son, she suggests several steps we all can take right now.

Please, read Part 1: What Now? Dr. Anni Reinking reminds us it’s ‘Not Just Black and White.’ This column—which includes helpful links to other scholars as well—explains the long legacy of America’s “breathing racism.” Anni also explains the problem black families face when their children suddenly face an unfair “adultification” by authority figures, including police. There’s a lot in this column to share with your friends, or your small group, to spark helpful discussion.

Then, read Part 2: Dr. Anni Reinking on ‘What can I do now? In this second column, Anni responds directly to the question so many men and women are asking today: “What can I do now?” She doesn’t claim to have the only “right” answers. Rather, she describes tried-and-true approaches she is taking with her own family, friends, co-workers and her students.

Both of these columns are published under Creative Commons, so you are free to share this material widely with friends as long as you credit Anni with this work.

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How Lincoln  Navigated These Waters

DUNCAN NEWCOMER’S QUIET FIRE COLUMN, this week, invites us to remember the occasions on which Abraham Lincoln’s presidency connected with two other powerful issues in the news this week: the concerns of African-Americans—and the Bible.

Duncan writes, “Lincoln’s life is inseparable from the Bible. Lincoln, of course, is also inseparable from the life of black people in America. It is revealing to recount some of the stories of when all three meet: Lincoln, black people and the Bible.”

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Holidays & Festivals

Juneteenth Will Be Different This Year

JUNE 19 marks a holiday largely unknown in predominantly white northern communities—but it’s a huge celebration in many towns, especially across the South and in Texas. Even before the turbulent events of 2020, interest in the holiday has been growing across that region. Texas, Oklahoma and Florida have recognized Juneteenth for many years, but, since 2010, seven other states in the region have joined them. Some northern states have followed suit, including Montana, Illinois and Maine. Read Stephanie Fenton’s story and, please, share it with friends on social media.

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What are we reading—
for ‘Pride Month’?

AMERICANS ARE READING, this summer, about diversity at a rate we’ve never seen! That’s good news for all of us who care about inclusion in our communities. CNN reported, this week, that books about race are flying off Amazon’s shelves. This month, Americans also are ordering books about sexuality and gender because this is LGBT Pride Month, set in June to honor the activists at Stonewall in June 1969. This week, Susan Stitt writes about some of the great books you can get right now to explore these issues. Please read Susan’s column and share these book ideas with friends.

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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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Click this movie image to read Ed McNulty’s review of the 1954 classic about the lives of poor people, Salt of the Earth.

FAITH & FILM 

LIFT YOUR SPIRITS WITH STREAMING

Click this snapshot from the June 2020 issue of Visual Parables Journal to learn more about this wonderful resource for individual viewing and small group discussion.

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 these 10 recommending videos available for streaming right now. 

  1. SALT OF THE EARTH—Ed reminds us of the 1954 classic about the lives of poor people, Salt of the Earth, the subject of great controversy in that era.
  2. CURTIZ—This film about Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, is full of factual errors. “Nevertheless,” Ed McNulty writes, “first-time director Tamas Yvan Topolanszky’ film, streaming on Netflix, is an interesting one thanks to a combination of excellent acting and crisp black & white photography.”
  3. REDISCOVERING ‘INSIGHT’—One of the great gems of classic TV was the Insight series produced by Paulist Productions. This week, Ed looks back at that remarkable and long-running series, which included a Who’s Who of top Hollywood talent. Through its 250 episodes, viewers saw performances by stars including Carroll O’Connor, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, June Lockhart, Celeste Holm, Meg Tilly and Patty Duke. Best of all, Ed shares with us the YouTube link to enjoy many of these classic episodes.
  4. RETURN TO ME—Ed writes, “Director/co-writer Bonnie Hunt’s 20-year-old romantic film could easily have gone astray were it not for its solid cast and attention to details of character. The main characters—two lovers Bob Rueland and Grace Biggs, played by David Duchovny and Minnie Driver—are so appealing that we can overlook some of the film’s sentimental excess.” (4 out of 5 stars)
  5. PROLONGED EXPOSURE—This film might seem slow moving by anyone who has been misled by the false posters that imply this is an action thriller. Mr. Thoms’ insightful script is more of a character study.” (4 stars)
  6. HALA—”Writer/director Minhal Baig brings us a very unusual version of the teenager coming of age story. Who has ever filmed this from the perspective of a 17-year-old Muslim girl, daughter of strict Pakistani parents who are only half acclimated to their new country? Although the pace of the film might try the patience of some viewers, it offers a rewarding time for those concerned about a young woman on the cusp of discovering her freedom.” (4 stars)
  7. 7500—”When a thriller, and Patrick Vollrath’s film is certainly one, begins with a Gandhi quotation, you can be sure that I will be watching with an extra amount of attention!” (4 stars)
  8. A HIDDEN LIFE—Want to learn more about courageous peacemakers? “Terrence Malick raises important questions about faith and loyalty to one’s country versus loyalty to one’s conscience. And how do you know that you are right when most everyone else is of the opposite view? These are universal questions, applicable here today as well as in 1940s Europe.” (The Franz Jagerstatter story is streaming from Amazon; also from Netflix’s DVD service.)
  9. FORBIDDEN—”This 36-year-old TV film, directed by Anthony Page and written by Leonard Gross, is another worthy film to add to the small number that pay tribute to the too-few Germans who opposed Adolph Hitler. Like Alone in Berlin, this film is set in Berlin. It is based on the non-fiction book by Leonard Gross The Last Jews in Berlin and stars the great French actress Jacqueline Bisset as the real life Countess Maria von Maltzan.” (4.5 stars)
  10. ALONE IN BERLIN—”Most WW 2 era films about resistance to Nazi tyranny are set in France, Poland, or some other occupied country, so Vincent Perez’s story of a middle-aged German couple becoming disillusioned with Hitler is most welcome. Based on Hans Fallada’s novel Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Every Man Dies Alone), it is a fictionalized version of what happened to the real-life Otto and Elise Hampel.” (4.5 stars)

 

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