‘SURELY SOME REVELATION IS AT HAND’
‘FOLLOWING THE STAR’—To close out 2018 and welcome 2019, journalist Martin Davis gives us a deeply stirring vision of the search for hope in the midst of the dark night most Americans are weathering right now. Martin writes as one of the millions of pilgrims who are outside the walls of organized religion, these days, looking for a welcoming spiritual home. The numbers of these pilgrims are swelling with each passing year.
He writes: “Right now, millions of us are trying to follow a star of hope. We take this journey not alone, but with a moral compass that helps to steer our course. We are standing outside your houses of worship asking if there is room for us. Perhaps in 2019, more will say ‘yes’ and open doors in true hospitality.”
HOLIDAYS: Christmas Around the World
A GLOBAL CELEBRATION—As our Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton writes, “The Old English Christ Mass celebrates the birth of Jesus for Christians worldwide, hailing from snow-covered mountains to sandy beaches, crowded cities to rural fields—and everywhere in between. Pew Research tells us that, even with declines in religious affiliation nationwide, half of all Americans say they attend church on Christmas Eve. Central to the liturgical year, Christmas closes Advent and begins the Twelve Days of Christmastide.”Kwanzaa Is Coming
‘CELEBRATION OF FAMILY AND CULTURE‘—Learn about the history and contemporary meaning of this African-American festival in Stephanie Fenton’s column, this week. She quotes from the holiday’s founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga, who says: “An African American and pan-African holiday, Kwanzaa is—in both conception and practice—a world-encompassing celebration.” Stephanie’s column also is packed with fascinating links to learn more about this observance—from the official Kwanzaa website to the Smithsonian website and other sources as well.
Want to see all the holidays? www.InterfaithHolidays.com
‘AT OUR BEST AS AMERICANS …’
MEET A REAL-LIFE KNIGHT—Let’s make a New Year’s Resolution to take steps toward uniting our deeply divided nation. That’s why our online magazine is so proud to report, this week, on the remarkable new memoir: The Black Knight—An African American Family’s Journey from West Point to a Life of Duty, Honor and Country.
This is the memoir of retired Col. Cliff Worthy, who was among the first courageous African-American cadets sent to West Point in the era when President Harry Truman was trying to integrate the U.S Army. In his Foreword to this book, retired U.S. Rep. John Dingell Jr. says that all Americans will benefit by reading this true story.
Dingell writes: “This memoir of retired Col. Cliff Worthy may seem like the story of one family, but it really is the story of many American families. Cliff’s story reminds all of us that—at our best as Americans—we are called to help each other build a stronger, healthier community. America’s great strength is that we come together here—we come together in all of our wonderful diversity, reflecting our families’ origins in places around the world.”
HONORING COURAGEOUS AUTHORS …
… WHO WELCOME DIVERSITY
CONGRATULATIONS, KEN AND EMILY!
Our staff just learned that Ken Wilson’s and Emily Swan’s book Solus Jesus was selected by the QSpirit online magazine as one of the Top LGBTQ Christian Books of 2018—in the category of Theology. That online magazine is the work of the Rev. Kittredge Cherry—who is a pastor, theologian, journalist and has been writing books about Christian inclusion for more than 20 years.
This honor for Solus Jesus is especially important because Big Five publishing houses have been avoiding new Christian books about LGBTQ inclusion. Meanwhile, so-called “Christian” or “evangelical” publishing houses have doubled down on releasing new books that condemn gender diversity. That’s tragic for the millions of American families, including churchgoing families, who have LGBTQ loved ones.
Pew Research continues to show that two thirds of all Americans now welcome inclusion. The majority of Americans, including churchgoing families, are past that old era of condemnation. They want to find ways to include their loved ones. We are proud be part of a publishing community of authors who write from many different faith traditions and who appreciate diversity as a sign of spiritual health.
Congratulations Ken and Emily!
DECEMBER 27 in DETROIT—Michigan State University’s Joe Grimm will make a personal appearance to welcome fans of the beloved soft-drink brand Faygo—at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Shop on December 27. (We have not forgotten that our readers live in all parts of the world, so attending a “local” event in the American Midwest is impossible for most of our regular followers. However, we couldn’t resist also celebrating Joe’s Faygo book on our front page, this week.)
Joe is a tireless voice for welcoming cultural diversity. And, as we celebrate Joe’s wonderful work on Faygo, we also urge our readers to explore the ever-growing series of books Joe and his students at the MSU School of Journalism are publishing. Here’s a convenient link to the Amazon index of all the MSU books.
FAITH & FILM: 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:
- WIDOWS—”This is a heist film every bit as complicated as the Ocean films, but with more social justice themes,” Ed writes, giving this crime thriller 4 out of 5 stars.
- BACKS AGAINST THE WALL—Start watching your upcoming PBS listings in January for this wonderful documentary about Howard Thurman. In addition to this early column by Ed McNulty, praising the film, ReadTheSpirit magazine will continue to update readers about the debut of this movie. Care to learn more about this giant in interreligous peacemaking? We already have our own Interfaith Peacemakers profile of Thurman in our magazine.
- THE FAVOURITE—Ed writes, “Like most historical movies, I suspect that scriptwriters Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara have doctored the history a lot for dramatic effects, but from what I can find much of the film is factual. What a time it was a little over 300 years ago!” (4 stars)
- SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE—Ed urges moviegoers of all ages not to miss this animated adventure, which is drawing a chorus of praise from critics nationwide. In Ed’s review, he describes the movie as “a thrilling tale for young and old. The film is technically brilliant, combining elements of the comic book—illustrated panels and balloons in which we see Miles’ dialogue with himself—and the lightning speed of animation in which our web spinners are free of restraints of gravity.” (5 stars)
- THE GREEN BOOK—In the Jim Crow South, African-American travelers relied on The Green Book to find safe facilities. Now, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali co-star in a film about that era, based on the true story of a classical musician who hired a driver for a Southern tour. (4.5 stars)
- WHAT THEY HAD—Blythe Danner stars in this moving drama about a family coping with their matriarch’s deepening dementia. (5 stars)
- FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD—And, now, for some more encouraging news: Ed enjoyed the latest movie in the Harry Potter franchise and recommends it. (4.5 stars)
- THE GRINCH—Looking for a great holiday movie? Ed raves about this new version of the classic. (4.5 stars) AND—Ed also reaches back to 2005 to highly recommend a collection of short films called simply Seuss Celebration (5 stars)
- MANNA FROM HEAVEN—Ed steps back even further in this column praising a terrific little film called Manna from Heaven.
- WILDLIFE— Ed writes, “Paul Dano’s first film as director is a sad but interesting study of the disintegration of the marriage of Jerry and Jeanette—and also could also be viewed as a case study in how not to be a parent.” (4.5 stars)
- THE FRONT RUNNER—On this biopic about the rise and fall of Gary Hart, Ed writes, “If you liked the political thriller All the President’s Men, you should enjoy Jason Reitman’s new film.” (4 stars)
- BOY ERASED—This gripping film about an evangelical family sending their son to a so-called gay “conversion” camp is sure to promote good discussions, Ed writes in recommending the movie. (4.5 stars)
- THE HATE U GIVE—Ed says this is the one film all Americans should be sure to see this year. (5 stars)
- FIRST MAN—This film tells us as much about Neil Armstrong the family man as it does Armstrong the astronaut. (5 stars)
- GENERATION WEALTH—Another can’t-miss-it documentary is Lauren Greenfield’s thought-provoking project, both in book and cinematic forms. (4 stars)