Cover Story: ‘Never Long Enough’ helps families honor loved ones’ lives

NEW APPROACH TO SHARING MEMORIES

CREATIVE TEAM—This week in ReadTheSpirit, we welcome the creative team behind a unique illustrated book that invites families to talk about their favorite memories of a loved one near the end of life. Called Never Long Enough, the book is a collaboration between an expert in working with families on end-of-life issues—and an artist with years of experience in education and counseling. Already their book is sparking interest among a wide range of community leaders, including educators, social workers, clergy and counselors. But, the book doesn’t require a professional to work its wonders in your family. Please, check out our Cover Story on Never Long Enough and consider supporting this creative team by ordering a copy of their book. (Your family will thank you.)

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REVIVING DETROIT

GOD SIGNS—Columnist Suzy Farbman, who has been a Detroit supporter throughout her journalistic career, reports on a special day and evening she spent with friends celebrating the city’s revival in the arts and visitor accommodations.

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SUPPORTING EACH OTHER

RODNEY CURTIS—Author and photographer Rodney Curtis is known nationwide for his high-spirited (and successful) battle with cancer, described in his book A ‘Cute’ Leukemia. Since that time, he has tried to support others in many ways, including this new column that he calls Brace Yourself (and others). Please, share this column with someone else. We all need a little reminder to reach out to friends who are in the midst of this challenging journey.

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HOLIDAYS:
RAMADAN IS COMING

Now more than ever, we all should try to learn more about Ramadan. Anti-Muslim bias is on the rise in many parts of the West, which fuels global tension and that seems especially tragic in this annual month of fasting and peaceful, prayerful renewal for a quarter of the world’s population. During Ramadan, Muslim families around the world turn to the kind of self-reflection that Christians traditionally experience during Lent and Jews seek during the High Holidays.

We recommend the classic overview of this month by Najah Bazzy, a Muslim educator, philanthropist and nationally known expert in cross-cultural healthcare. You can learn more about her book in our bookstore. Or, you may prefer to read a sample of her book, the chapter titled Why We FastWe also invite you to enjoy—and share with friends—this interview with Najah Bazzy about her work and the traditions of the fasting month.

Also, our Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Ramadan 2017, including a new Pew Research Center report on the growth of the world’s Muslim population.

Joe Grimm, who teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, also addresses this overall theme in his column: How your Ramadan greeting can build a healthier community.

FEED THE SPIRIT

In keeping with our Ramadan theme, we are highlighting a popular two-part FeedTheSpirit column. Part 1 in the series describes Parwan Anwar’s family customs during the month of Ramadan and includes a recipe for bolani, an Afghani stuffed, fried bread that is terrific when it comes time to break the daily fast. Then, in Part 2, Parwin describes the dangerous trek through mountain roads that she and her family followed in fleeing from Afghanistan in the 1970s and includes a recipe for Shorba Birang, a rich vegetable soup.

Want more on holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY’s easy-to-remember online address is at VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: What do you know about Ramadan?

DISCOVERING THE BEAUTY OF RAMADAN

COVER STORY—Now more than ever, we all should try to learn more about Ramadan. Anti-Muslim bias is on the rise in many parts of the West, which fuels global tension and that seems especially tragic in this annual month of fasting and peaceful, prayerful renewal for a quarter of the world’s population. During Ramadan, Muslim families around the world turn to the kind of self-reflection that Christians traditionally experience during Lent and Jews seek during the High Holidays.

We recommend the classic overview of this month by Najah Bazzy, a Muslim educator, philanthropist and nationally known expert in cross-cultural healthcare. You can learn more about her book in our bookstore. Or, you may prefer to read a sample of her book, the chapter titled Why We FastWe also invite you to enjoy—and share with friends—this interview with Najah Bazzy about her work and the traditions of the fasting month.

Also, our Holidays & Festivals columnist Stephanie Fenton reports on Ramadan 2017, including a new Pew Research Center report on the growth of the world’s Muslim population.

After a decade of publishing ReadTheSpirit, we know that our online magazine is read around the world. But we also know that a majority of our readership lives in the U.S. and Canada—and has a Christian affiliation. So  you might ask: Why do we pay so much attention to Ramadan and reaching out to our Muslim friends and neighbors? Joe Grimm, who teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, answered that question for us in a column headlined: How your Ramadan greeting can build a healthier community.

FEED THE SPIRIT

In keeping with our Ramadan theme, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis brings us a two-part column that was published a couple of years ago—yet remains a popular destination for readers seeking stories about refugees from Afghanistan and their food traditions. Part 1 in the series describes Parwan Anwar’s family customs during the month of Ramadan and includes a recipe for bolani, an Afghani stuffed, fried bread that is terrific when it comes time to break the daily fast. Then, in Part 2, Parwin describes the dangerous trek through mountain roads that she and her family followed in fleeing from Afghanistan in the 1970s. That column has a recipe for another Ramadan favorite: Shorba Birang, a rich vegetable soup from her homeland.

Want more on holidays? Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

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ENDING THE SECRECY

GOD SIGNS—This week, columnist Suzy Farbman brings us the story of a family that kept a secret for many years—about a daughter of jazz legend Louis Armstrong. The story finally has been breaking into the news media in recent years, including original letters from Armstrong about the relationship. Suzy tells us the story of the two women most directly affected by this unusual family story.

 

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study 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 latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Celebrating Mothers (and Saints) among us

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

COVER STORY—There’s still time before the holiday to order a copy of Barbara Mahany’s wonderful book, Motherprayer. Please, enjoy our interview with Barbara, which includes some excerpts of the book.

DID YOU KNOW? Holidays columnist Stephanie Fenton tells how Mother’s Day originated and provides lots of fun links to holiday resources. Stephanie also includes news about the “Mother’s Day Movement,” which is trying to lift up women and girls in the developing world. And, yes, Stephanie has included a couple of links to Mother’s Day recipes on other websites. Within ReadTheSpirit, one of our all-time favorite Mother’s Day food columns is this story from Mennonite writer Shirley Showalter about her family’s legacy of Sugar Cookies.

‘REQUIEM FOR MY MOTHER’—Hollywood composer Stephen Edwards is giving all of us an inspiring gift in honor of his late mother: It’s a broadcast of a documentary film about his creation of an ambitious orchestral-and-choral composition that was performed at the Vatican. Check local listings in your part of the country: The nationwide broadcast is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern on May 14 on the PBS World channel. Edwards’ main website for this musical project includes videos and samples of the music. The form of Edwards’ composition is a “requiem,” a classical memorial Mass, which may sound quite somber. But, ReadTheSpirit was able to preview the hour-long film and it is delightful! One of the highlights is Edwards explaining the enormous popularity of other classic Requiems in Hollywood movies. (Think Star Wars.) Another highlight is footage of all the local American choirs who traveled to the Vatican to perform the final piece.

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SAINTS AMONG US:
SOLANUS CASEY

The big news out of the Vatican this week for American Catholics is the advancement of the late Solanus Casey toward official recognition as a saint—a process known as canonization. And, let’s be clear: In Catholic tradition, canonization doesn’t “make” a saint. Whatever Solanus’ official Vatican title may be at the moment, he already is a saint. Canonization refers to the Vatican’s step-by-step investigation and affirmation that this particular saint should be lifted up as a global example among the countless saints who already are part of the Christian cosmos. Care to read more?

The Capuchins preserve two news stories originally reported by ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm: The first is a 2007 overview of Solanus, published in The Detroit Free Press 50 years after his death. The second is a 2006 story about a documentary film on his life and legacy.

For news from this past week, we recommend Niraj Warikoo’s story in The Detroit Free Press. You might also enjoy this story in America Magazine.

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MICHAEL TOWBES

GOD SIGNS—Suzy Farbman’s column, this week, recalls another “saint”: Michael Towbes, who combined business and philanthropy with a love of creative experiences from Broadway to Burning Man. In Judaism, the term “saint” is not as common as “tzadik,” which certainly describes Michael. The word means “righteous one,” which is similar to the Christian concept of a saint. Enjoy this remembrance of a true tzadik: Michael Towbes.

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Remember the simple address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

VESAK—The word dharma resounds around the world this week, as Buddhists, monks—and even many non-Buddhists as well as international UN offices pause to observe Vesak. A Buddhist observance, Vesak recalls a trio of events: the birth, enlightenment and death of Guatama Buddha. Stephanie Fenton has the story.

 

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study 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 latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Get ready for Mother’s Day with ‘Motherprayer’

BARBARA MAHANY LIGHTS UP THE HOME

COVER STORYMother’s Day is looming and, this week, we interview columnist Barbara Mahany about her new bookMotherprayer: Lessons in Loving. Written over more than 10 years, this collection of short reflections on family life (with a sprinkling of delicious recipes) is the perfect interactive gift for Mother’s Day. Our story includes some brief excerpts of the book, as well. Enjoy!

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

The easiest way to remember Stephanie Fenton’s Holidays & Festivals section of our magazine is via the simplified address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

 

wpid-0501_Beltane_Fire.jpgWELCOME THE LIGHT! Some of the biggest Beltane headlines, each year, come from Scotland and the fiery festival held for many years in Edinburgh. But Beltane festivals—welcoming the brighter half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere—now circle the globe. Stephanie Fenton has that story, too.

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Ridvan-garden (1)RIDVANThe festival of Ridvan recalls a sacred period when Baha’u’llah, the Promised One for Baha’is, entered and temporarily took up residence in the Najibiyyih Garden, in 1863. The site was renamed by Baha’u’llah as “Ridvan,” meaning “paradise.”

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Cinco de Mayo Dancers in WashingtonCINCO DE MAYO—This popular May 5 observance is an occasion to revel in Mexican food, culture, dance and music. Many American schools and communities hold Mexican educational events, and iconic Mexican symbols—including the Virgin of Guadalupe—are displayed.

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A GOLDEN CELBRATION

GOD SIGNSIt’s high time for celebration as Suzy Farbman and her husband mark 50 years of marriage. Usually, she brings us columns about remarkable moments in the lives of men and women she meets nationwide. This week, it’s time for a story from her own family. Congratulations Suzy and Burton!

 

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FILM & FAITH:

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Remembering the Armenian Holocaust, despite Hollywood turmoil

WE MUST REMEMBER

Armenian-Genocide-Memorial Rodney Curtis (2)COVER STORY—As this new weekly issue of ReadTheSpirit goes public on April 24, 2017, the day marks both Yom Hashoah and Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. As we say in our Cover Story this week, it’s tragic to find yet another global dispute sparked by deniers of the Armenian Genocide—this time involving dueling feature films, one of which tries to deny the scale of that World War I-era crime against humanity. To help with our collective call to remembrance—today, we recommend some films and books you may want to read and share with friends.

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HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS

Sugarcane juice (1)The easiest way to remember Stephanie Fenton’s Holidays & Festivals section of our magazine is via the simplified address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

ACROSS INDIA—This week, make an investment, buy a bit of gold—or sip a cool cup of sugarcane juice—and you’ll be following customs associated with the festival known as Akshaya Tritiya.

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wpid-0501_Beltane_Fire.jpgWELCOME THE LIGHT! Some of the biggest Beltane headlines, each year, come from Scotland and the fiery festival held for many years in Edinburgh. But Beltane festivals—welcoming the brighter half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere—now circle the globe. Stephanie Fenton has that story, too.

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Ridvan-garden (1)RIDVANThe festival of Ridvan recalls a sacred period when Baha’u’llah, the Promised One for Baha’is, entered and temporarily took up residence in the Najibiyyih Garden, in 1863. The site was renamed by Baha’u’llah as “Ridvan,” meaning “paradise.”

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Cinco de Mayo Dancers in WashingtonCINCO DE MAYO—This popular May 5 observance is an occasion to revel in Mexican food, culture, dance and music. Many American schools and communities hold Mexican educational events, and iconic Mexican symbols—including the Virgin of Guadalupe—are displayed.

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OPENING BUTTERFLY WINGS

Kim Cornetet receives her butterfly wings

GOD SIGNS—In this week’s column, Suzy Farbman introduces Kim Cornetet, whose family encouraged her to spread acts of kindness. Eventually, Kim discovered that this goal had become the core of her life’s vocation. Recently, Kim was honored as a visionary by a national nonprofit that empowers girls—and, as a colorful symbol, she was given a set of butterfly wings. You may want to share this story with friends.

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FILM & FAITH:
Last chance on free movies!

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

04-17-VP-April-Preview_pdfEd supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

IN APRIL, Ed is offering 5 free movies on DVD and/or Blu-ray to 5 men and women who either subscribe for a year or renew their existing annual subscription for another year (before April 30). Here’s how it works: As April ends, we will put the names of people who subscribed/renewed into a hat and draw 5 winners. Then, Ed will email the winners, in the order their names were drawn, and give them a choice of the free movies. There are some wonderful movies available! The list of 5 prizes starts with the thought-provoking Silence and includes the hit movie Arrival, as well. Click here to subscribe/renew and get in on this drawing.

Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Maggie Rowe, Sin Bravely and Hollywood’s new compassion for evangelicals

‘KIND COMEDY’ AIMED AT EVANGELICALS?

Cover of Sin Bravely by Maggie Rowe (2)COVER STORY—Hollywood’s century-old love-hate relationship with evangelicals is swinging in the direction of compassionate humor, these days. That’s thanks to the kind hearts and keen talents of writers like Maggie Rowe. This week, our Cover Story is an interview with Maggie about the debut of her memoir, Sin Bravely—and her plans to develop this honest, humorous look at her evangelical roots into a TV series. We think there’s potential here for a new genre of kind comedy, poking fun at extreme religion without skewering all religious people. Come on! Enjoy our cover story, get the book and you’ll be way ahead of the trend when Maggie’s stories become the next big thing in series television.

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BRIGHT WEEK & HOLY HUMOR SUNDAY

Bright Week Procession in Jordanville New York (1)The easiest way to remember Stephanie Fenton’s Holidays & Festivals section of our magazine is via the simplified address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org.

LOVE TO LAUGH? For more than 30 years, one man has campaigned tirelessly to bring laugh-out-loud humor into congregations on the Sunday after Easter. No, it’s not some kind of pop-culture trend. In fact, Cal Samra’s campaign reaches back nearly 2,000 years to ancient Christian tradition.

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Remembrance candles.

AND SOMBER REMEMBRANCE—For all of our coverage of humor, this week, communities around the world will remember the Holocaust starting at sundown on Sunday, April 23, with Yom Hashoah. The documented rise of anti-Semitic incidents around the world underlines the urgency of remembering—and continuing activism to preserve vulnerable minority communities. Concerns are as fresh as news reports that Nazi sympathizers are part of a leading political campaign in France, at the moment. Stephanie Fenton reports on Yom Hashoah traditions.

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Multicultural Health Institute homepage (1)HELPING OTHERS

GodSigns—Dr. Lisa Merritt embodies service to others—from her own family to the many families helped by her Multicultural Health Institute. GodSigns writer Suzy Farbman brings us the inspiring story of a woman who has dedicated her life to service.

 

 

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FILM & FAITH:
WIN A FREE MOVIE!

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

04-17-VP-April-Preview_pdfEd supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

IN APRIL, Ed is offering 5 free movies on DVD and/or Blu-ray to 5 men and women who either subscribe for a year or renew their existing annual subscription for another year (before April 30). Here’s how it works: As April ends, we will put the names of people who subscribed/renewed into a hat and draw 5 winners. Then, Ed will email the winners, in the order their names were drawn, and give them a choice of the free movies. There are some wonderful movies available! The list of 5 prizes starts with the thought-provoking Silence and includes the hit movie Arrival, as well. Click here to subscribe/renew and get in on this drawing.

land-of-mine movie still (4)Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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Cover Story: Wishes for an inspiring Easter & Passover

Celebrating with Religious Communities Worldwide

Easter-lily (2)COVER STORY—Since our online magazine was founded in 2007, this has become our greatest strength: We have published thousands of stories about religious and cultural diversity with our balanced approach to journalism. And, this week, we can see readers around the world flocking to read our stories about Easter and Passover.

th Passover-seder-plate-Sarah-Biggart-e1426519503157What’s surprising is that, this week, our two most popular Passover columns both were published more than a year ago—and both are drawing readers from around the world via Google searches and links shared by friends.

As usual, the majority of our readers are based in the U.S. But, for these two columns, our Internet analytics show readers arriving from countries including: Canada, the United Kingdom and other English-speaking nations such as Australia and New Zealand. Europeans in Germany, France, Spain, Hungary and Estonia have read one or both of these columns—plus Latin American readers, including Mexicans and Hondurans. Most noteworthy, though, are readers spending time with these two columns in Africa, from Ghana and Nigeria to South Africa, as well as the Arab/Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan.

In this era of rising hate speech and tensions between minorities, our columnists are making substantial contributions to interfaith understanding. What are these two most-popular Passover columns—based on the consensus of our readers’ own choices?

The Mystery of the Passover Potato Gnocchi—Part of the continuing international appeal for this 2015 column in Bobbie Lewis’s FeedTheSpirit may be the Australian home of Bobbie’s guest: Andrea Cooper. In addition to covering Passover customs, the column includes a delicious recipe for gnocchi.

This-Jewish-Life-front-cover-info (1)Out of Bondage—Several years ago, we published sample chapters from Debra Darvick’s popular book, This Jewish Life, a collection of real-life stories of men and women with experiences connected to the cycles of the Jewish year. Out of Bondage highlights the timeless power of the Passover Haggadah as Debra recalls the deep emotions that surface when immigrants from Russia experience the Seder.

In addition, every week, readers around the world visit Stephanie Fenton’s coverage of Holidays & Festivals. The easiest way to remember Stephanie’s home page is the simplified address: www.InterfaithHolidays.org. This is another of our magazine’s trademarks: We cover a major festival like Passover from multiple perspectives. Bobbie and Debra are both well known Jewish writers. Stephanie’s column is always geared for general readers, so her main Passover column provides background on the holiday mainly aimed at non-Jewish readers.

Happy Easter!

th ukrainian Easter-egg-pysanki-Karen-LarsenOf course, the majority of our readers live in the U.S. and the majority of the population is Christian. The latest Pew report on the world’s religious landscape totals 2.3 billion Christians worldwide, which is 31 percent of the world’s population. (The rest of the new Pew data show: Muslims make up 24 percent of the world’s population, unaffiliated people account for 16 percent, Hindus 15 percent, Buddhists 7 percent, Folk religions 6 percent and, rounding out the report are “other religions” at 0.1 percent and the world’s Jewish minority at 0.01 percent.)

This week we are covering these Christian holidays:

THE PASCHAL TRIDUUMSome churches use this traditional phrase to describe the ancient liturgies that fill three days before Easter. These colorful, solemn practices include the blessing of holy oils in Catholic churches, the washing of feet, communion services and special draping of church altars.

EASTER / PASCHA—West and East converge this year on April 16! Stephanie Fenton reports on the wide range of colorful customs and stories related to this holiday around the world.

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PBS The Great War about World War I (2)WAR & REMEMBRANCE

CENTENNIAL OF ‘THE GREAT WAR’—In our review, this week, we urge readers to either tune in or record a remarkable six-hour PBS documentary about America’s entry into World War I in April 1917. Don’t mistake this epic film for “just another war story.” A great deal of the new documentary examines civil rights issues, a century ago, that remain as timely today as they were in that earlier era.

 

 

 

 

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FILM & FAITH:
WIN A FREE MOVIE!

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work freely published at VisualParables.org.

04-17-VP-April-Preview_pdfEd supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journala monthly magazine packed with complete study guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

IN APRIL, Ed is offering 5 free movies on DVD and/or Blu-ray to 5 men and women who either subscribe for a year or renew their existing annual subscription for another year (before April 30). Here’s how it works: As April ends, we will put the names of people who subscribed/renewed into a hat and draw 5 winners. Then, Ed will email the winners, in the order their names were drawn, and give them a choice of the free movies. There are some wonderful movies available! The list of 5 prizes starts with the thought-provoking Silence and includes the hit movie Arrival, as well. Click here to subscribe/renew and get in on this drawing.

land-of-mine movie still (4)Among Ed’s latest free movie reviews are:

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