Cover Story: Jeffrey Munroe on the power of ‘Telling Stories in the Dark’: ‘When we tell our stories, others find their own healing and hope’

A heartfelt story of family and friends—in which you are likely to recognize your own story, too

THAT’S THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER JEFFREY MUNROE WRITES ABOUT in his new book Telling Stories in the Dark. When we honestly share our stories of sadness, grief, trauma and pain—we discover that others are living out these same stories. We find hope and healing—and our friends and families do as well.

In our Cover Story this week, ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm interviews Jeff, asking questions many of Jeff’s early readers have raised about this unique book. Please read this story and share it with friends this week via social media and email. You may be surprised, when you share this story, how many people will thank you.

.

.


From Our Authors—

Laura Elizabeth:

The challenges and the fun of launching a first book

In our recent Front Edge Publishing columns, we have been reporting on ways to develop and to participate in successful podcasts, which are a vital gateway to expanding your audience—whether you are an author or a scholar or a community or religious leader. This week, we are featuring a really engaging podcast hosted by author Peter Greenwood, interviewing our cozy mystery author Laura Elizabeth. It’s a great glimpse into the experience of first-time publishing and it’s a solid example of a well-produced podcast by Peter.

.

.

‘We are not born to hate’

HERE’S A POWERFUL AND TIMELY AFFIRMATION from our author Howard Brown—thanks to writer Debra L. Eckerling and the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal. Debra’s profile of Howard shares some of Howard’s very practical advice for making the world a little better, each day. It’s the kind of story that’s inspiring to read and is likely to bring a smile to your friends if you share it on social media.

Of course, the best way to get a dose of Howard’s wisdom is to get a copy of his book, Shining Brightly.

Or, you can visit Howard at his website, where you can download free PDFs with wisdom distilled on several themes: Mentorship, Survivorship and Interfaith Bridge Bulding. Those download links are in the navy blue area on this page.

 


Holidays & Festivals

Holocaust Remembrance

ON JANUARY 27 EACH YEAR, people around the world observe one of the two annual days to memorialize the Holocaust—a remembrance that is especially timely and sorely needed in 2024. Our columnist Stephanie Fenton has the story and includes lots of helpful links to further reading and resources.

Still Honoring Dr. King

IF YOU MISSED IT LAST WEEK, we marked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with a special cover story featuring author Greg Garrett and his new book about James Baldwin. We’ve heard from a number of readers who were “off” when last Monday’s issue of ReadTheSpirit appeared, so we are repeating a link to that inspiring cover story about Jame Baldwin’s prophetic life and legacy, this week, as well.

.

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

..

.


Click the movie poster for The Book of Clarence to read faith-and-film critic Edward McNulty’s review.

Faith & Film

Click on this image from the front cover of the January 2024 issue of Visual Parables Journal to learn more about this resource enjoyed by individuals and small groups nationwide.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Cover Story: Greg Garrett amplifies James Baldwin’s prophetic call from ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’ to ‘The Welcome Table’

‘Any Myth that Denies a Person’s Humanity Has to be Excavated and Repented’

THAT’S A COMMITMENT made by scholar and author Greg Garrett in his newest book, which we are featuring as our Cover Story to mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2024. Please read this interview with Greg about the prophetic value of encountering James Baldwin’s body of work in a fresh way—including new research Greg has undertaken on Baldwin’s final, unfinished play The Welcome Table.

As you read this Cover Story, please also take a moment to share a link to this story via your social media or email contacts. That simple act helps to spread good news in our troubled world at a time when we need resources like this one.

About the MLK Day Holiday

OUR HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS COLUMNIST Stephanie Fenton reports on the King holiday, which this year falls on King’s actual birthday. Of course, she includes a helpful link to the national website for this day of service, as well.

SINCE 2007, we have been pleased to bring Stephanie’s coverage of the world’s major observances to readers far and wide. As we launched this new year, we recently unveiled Stephanie’s 2024 calendar—and we invited readers to contact us if they have questions: Have you spotted a “missing” observance that you would like us to include? Found a typo or an issue to clarify? Please email us at [email protected] (And we’re sending a sincere “Thank you!” to the readers who did email us with suggestions and also words of appreciation for this wonderful service.)

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

.

.


From Our Authors—

Howard Brown:

Each week, he makes a daring promise to ‘Inspire!’ his podcast audience

Does he succeed? Now you can test that claim yourself with a “Top Stories” roundup Howard has prepared for us, highlighting some of the very best of his 61 podcasts produced so far. This is a story you’ll want to share with friends who will thank you for recommending this unique, weekly podcast.

In this Front Edge Publishing column, we are featuring Howard’s “Top Stories” podcast—and we’re also providing quick links to a half dozen of the very best that he mentions. This is a one-stop column for lots of inspiring listening this week.

.

.

Victor Begg:

The sustaining power of faith in the midst of grief

VICTOR BEGG is the author of Our Muslim Neighbors: Achieving the American Dream—which also features stories about his late wife, the remarkable interfaith peacemaker Shahina Begg.

In this recent column, Victor writes about his own reliance on faith in the midst of loss. While friends, family and caring neighbors are vital ingredients in finding a path forward after a life-long partner passes, Victor writes that faith also is an essential part of his journey.

.

.

Jeffrey Munroe:

Our 1st Book Launch in 2024 is Telling Secrets in the Dark

VISIT OUR FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING website for a brief preview and links to pre-order our first new book of 2024—Telling Secrets in the Dark by Jeffrey Munroe.

Our regular readers also may recall our big November 2023 announcement of this new publishing imprint with The Reformed Journal—which has has been, for many decades, one of the leading Christian magazines published in America.

..

.


TO MARK MLK DAY, we know readers may want to see the new feature film Rustin, about the man behind the March on Washington. Clicking on this Netflix poster for the film takes you to Edward McNulty’s full review of that film.

Faith & Film

Click on this image from the front cover of the January 2024 issue of Visual Parables Journal to learn more about this resource enjoyed by individuals and small groups nationwide.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Cover Story: A Delightful Year of Holidays & Festivals Is Unfolding Around the World

Every week through every year—we celebrate our colorful world!

THANKS TO OUR HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS COLUMNIST STEPHANIE FENTON, our ReadTheSpirit magazine has been covering a variety of celebrations, commemorations and observances around the world since 2007. That’s more than 850 weekly issues in which Stephanie has shared colorful stories of the ways our communities mark spiritual and cultural milestones, each year.

This week’s Cover Story is the unveiling of Stephanie’s 2024 calendar. We know that, over many years, readers both in the U.S. and in other parts of the world have used Stephanie’s calendar as a guide to expressions of religious and cultural diversity. We are aware of her column being used by chaplains in health care systems and other major institutions, community leaders, civic officials, educators and other media professionals. Once again in 2024, please feel free to share Stephanie’s calendar—and her ongoing weekly columns that appear in our online magazine—and please include a credit line for Stephanie and our magazine for this service we have been providing for 17 years.

Got a question about the calendar? Have you spotted a “missing” observance that you would like us to include? Found a typo or an issue to clarify? Please email us at [email protected] 

.

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

.


From Our Authors—

Laura Elizabeth announces:

‘Murder Mystery Dinners’ based on her cozy mystery

THE FIRST AUTHOR IN OUR NEW COZY MYSTERY IMPRINT, Laura Elizabeth has become a true innovator in book marketing. This week, she is announcing that—in her home state of Georgia—she will be cooperating with Kaya Vineyard and Winery to host three “Murder Mystery Dinners,” based on the story of her popular novel All Is Now Lost. In her newest newsletter to readers, Laura announced to her fans that her beloved characters “Carr, Barb, and Tripp will come to life under the tent at Kaya Vineyards on March 3rd, 8th, and 9th. More information and ticket options can be found on Kaya’s website.” Bravo to you, Laura! And, if any of our far-flung ReadTheSpirit readers are interested in these Georgia events—please follow that link.

.

Jeffrey Munroe:

Our 1st Book Launch in 2024 is Telling Secrets in the Dark

VISIT OUR FRONT EDGE PUBLISHING website for a brief preview and links to pre-order our first new book of 2024—Telling Secrets in the Dark by Jeffrey Munroe.

Our regular readers also may recall our big November 2023 announcement of this new publishing imprint with The Reformed Journal—which has has been, for many decades, one of the leading Christian magazines published in America.

.

George Mason on:

The Shifting Landscape for Pastors

IN THE OPENING DAYS OF THIS NEW YEAR, the widely respected pastor George A. Mason appeared in a new Cooperative Baptist Fellowship podcast about “the shifting landscape for pastors and preachers.” George’s new book, The Word Made Fresh, available from Amazon, has brought a new national spotlight on his inspiring style of preaching and teaching while embracing inclusion. We’re sure many of our readers will enjoy this CBF audio conversation with George, focused on emerging issues that thousands of churches are facing in 2024.

.

Rodney Curtis:

Award-winning photographer and author showcases a year of favorite photographs

YOU’LL DEFINITELY WANT TO CLICK OVER to Rodney Curtis’s website this week to enjoy his collection of “My Favorite Pictures of the Year.” The selections include, of course, Rodney’s family as well as their adventures in New Zealand and Montreal. Among the best photos of 2023 are some downright cuuuute baby photos as well!

Rodney greets us all in this gallery: “Wow, what a year! I was unbelievably fortunate to have traveled through three countries over the past twelve months and also receive a new granddaughter along the way.” So, c’mon, take a peek!

.

.

Calling All Writers—And Readers:

Please, Join Us on Goodreads in 2024

AS WE BEGIN THIS NEW YEAR, we hope you’ll enjoy connecting with our publishing house team on Goodreads, the worldwide social-media network for book lovers. In this week’s Front Edge Publishing column, Editor David Crumm writes about how Goodreads really can become a wonderful community of friends who enjoy reading—and you’ll find easy links to connect with David and Front Edge’s Susan Stitt as well.

.

.


Click this poster for the new version of The Color Purple to read Ed McNulty’s review.

Click this photograph of Edward McNulty from his service in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964 to read our tribute to his remarkable career.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Cover Story: Toast New Year 2024 with 10 Resolutions Guaranteed to Light Up This Dark Winter

Consider adding these to your own New Year’s Resolutions

For our 2024 New Year’s issue of ReadTheSpirit online magazine, we are sharing some New Year’s Resolutions from our nationwide community of authors. We did not have to ask these writers to send us “new” resolutions—because virtually all of our authors hope their books will make our world—and our lives—just a little better. That means—in the pages of their books—they’re offering readers wisdom about everything from finding happiness to peacemaking.

Please enjoy and share this column with friends this week via social media or email. That simple act of sharing this column might surprise you with the appreciation you’ll receive in response!

.

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

.

.


Click this photograph of Edward McNulty from his service in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964 to read our tribute to his remarkable career.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cover Story: The Top 10 Stories You Told Us You Enjoyed—and Shared with Friends—in 2023

‘You’ve got to read this!’

THAT’S WHAT WE HOPE OUR READERS say to their friends when we produce each weekly issue of our online magazine. Since 2007, we have published more than 850 of those “weekly issues” (meaning a fresh lineup of stories each Monday on our ReadTheSpirit.com front page). This week—as we do at the end of each year—we look back across our previous 51 issues and we highlight 10 stories that really got our readers talking in 2023! Please, enjoy this annual Top 10 list and remember to keep sharing these inspiring and thought-provoking stories with friends as we move into the New Year 2024.

.


Holidays & Festivals

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

.

.


Click this photograph of Edward McNulty from his service in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964 to read our tribute to his remarkable career.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cover Story: A special Christmas wish, this year, is a New Year’s Resolution to enjoy films with the prophetic Edward McNulty

 

Please consider supporting the work of our authors—and inspiring friends in 2024

THIS WEEK, as Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine, David Crumm has written a special personal tribute to the long and prophetic career of our Faith & Film critic Edward McNulty. And, we are inviting our readers to subscribe for a new year of Ed’s monthly Visual Parables Journal, which expands on his movie reviews with inspiring discussion guides to current (and occasionally classic) films. Please, take just a moment to read this reflection on Ed’s remarkable career—and consider subscribing to his Journal.

THROUGHOUT DECEMBER, we have been encouraging our readers to “double up” on their gift giving: First, by giving family and friends (or yourself) some inspiring reading for the New Year—and, second, by supporting the men and women from many different faith traditions who have been a part of our publishing community over the past two decades.

Here are more of our recommendations this holiday season:

Last week, our Front Edge Publishing column focused on the reasons readers love to connect with cozy mystery series—especially when a new author is emerging with a brand new series. In this case, we’re hoping you will connect with Laura Elizabeth and her new island cozy, All Is Now Lost.

During Hanukkah, earlier this month, we highlighted books by some of our Jewish authors—and shared 10 reflections from authors on why Hanukkah was so important this year.

We started our 2023 holiday gift guide even earlier, this year, with a story headlined: Two good deeds in one: Please, give the gift of reading this holiday season.

.

.


From Our Authors—

Thinking about New Year’s Resolutions?

MAKE ‘EM GOALS YOU CAN GO GET—That’s the advice Debra Eckerling shares with Shining Brightly’s Howard Brown in this week’s episode (No. 57) of his podcast that now reaches thousands of readers around the world every week. (When you visit Howard’s page, scroll down to the podcast list and you may wind up enjoying a number of them this week!) Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your GoalGuide and founder of something she calls the D*E*B METHOD® system of goal-setting simplified. She’s a speaker, consultant, and workshop leader for corporations and nonprofits.

.

And Speaking of the Brown family—

READERS CONTINUE TO ASK ABOUT EMILY BROWN, Howard Brown’s daughter and now a TV reporter in Montana. Emily plays a major role in Howard’s memoir Shining Brightly and, for a while, Emily was a contributing columnist for ReadTheSpirit. So, as a year-end family update, we can report that Emily is doing very well as a TV journalist. Currently, she’s reporting on the ski industry in her part of the country. If you watch that TV clip, Emily filmed as well as reported the story, including interviewing one man while both were riding a ski lift high above the slopes.

 

 

 


Holidays & Festivals

.

Yule Enjoy This Column, too

OUR HOLIDAYS COLUMNIST STEPHANIE FENTON writes about how the solstices have been marked as auspicious turning points in the calendar since ancient times. For our Northern readers, this is the winter solstice! Often termed Yuletide or Yulefest, the days surrounding winter solstice have long been marked with cold-weather festivals and warm feasts, celebrating the reversal from increasing darkness to increasing light and giving thanks for the “rebirth of the sun.” And, yes, of course Stephanie has some delicious links in her column as well.

.

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

.

 


Click on this poster for the 2003 movie Love Actually to read film critic Edward 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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cover Story: Wrapping up your holiday shopping? Don’t forget Laura Elizabeth’s cozy mystery—and more great ideas!

There’s still time to give this wonderful ‘Cozy’ Mystery! And more …

THIS WEEK’S COVER STORY is a reminder that it’s still the perfect time to order some great reading for Christmas, this year. Our new story this week is a Front Edge Publishing column about the warm circle of friends who readers will meet if they dive into Laura Elizabeth’s new island cozy mystery, All Is Now Lost.

Last week, we highlighted books by Jewish authors for the start of Hanukkah—and especially if you wound up with a little gift of Hanukkah gelt in your pocket—consider buying some of their inspiring books as a way to signal support for our Jewish community nationwide. We wrote about why this is so important in our story, along with links to 10 authors’ books under the headline Consider the Courage of Celebrating Hanukkah with Jewish Families This Year.

ALSO—FROM OUR HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS columnist Stephanie Fenton, we have this overview of customs surrounding Hannukah, which began on Thursday, December 7, this year. Stephanie adds to our Hanukkah coverage, especially with links to latke recipes and family activities.

We started our 2023 holiday gift guide even earlier, this year, with a story headlined: Two good deeds in one: Please, give the gift of reading this holiday season.

.

.


Holidays & Festivals

Posadas Navidenas—

COMING DECEMBER 16 is the Hispanic community-wide tradition of “Las Posadas,” a centuries-old reenactment of Jesus’ family coming to Bethlehem in search of a place to stay.

.

And Yule Enjoy This Column, too

OUR HOLIDAYS COLUMNIST STEPHANIE FENTON writes about how the solstices have been marked as auspicious turning points in the calendar since ancient times. For our Northern readers, this is the winter solstice! Often termed Yuletide or Yulefest, the days surrounding winter solstice have long been marked with cold-weather festivals and warm feasts, celebrating the reversal from increasing darkness to increasing light and giving thanks for the “rebirth of the sun.” And, yes, of course Stephanie has some delicious links in her column as well.

.

WANT TO SEE ALL OF THE UPCOMING HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS?—It’s easy to find our annual calendar of global observances. Just remember the web address: InterfaithHolidays.com

.

 


Click on this movie poster to read Ed McNulty’s film review of the new Netflix production, Rustin.

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 film reviews and discussion guides. This resource is used nationwide by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Here are some of Ed’s most recent free reviews and columns:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.