Cover Story: Millions, including 20,000 Americans, make the pilgrimage to Mecca—the Hajj

SHARE IN THE POSITIVE SPIRIT OF OUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEYS—About 20,000 Americans are among the 2 million pilgrims traveling to Mecca this week for the annual Hajj. This is a perfect time to reach out to Muslim friends, neighbors and co-workers and ask if they know someone taking part in this journey that usually is a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual adventure. The positive spirit surrounding the Hajj can be an antidote to the toxic anti-Muslim bias that has been so prevalent this year.

NEW THIS WEEKOur Holidays & Festivals expert Stephanie Fenton has the story of the Hajj, plus some fascinating video clips.

Eid al-Adha sweets.AND THE CELEBRATIONStephanie also reports on the Eid al-Adha, which is both a part of the Hajj—and is celebrated by Muslim families around the world. Mosques will fill to capacities; Eid dinners will draw families and friends; and the favorite treats often are sweet!

The Hajj is also a recurring theme in Victor Begg’s new book, Our Muslim Neighbors—Achieving the American Dream, an Immigrant’s MemoirAs he writes in the book, Victor was fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage twice—once as a young man and again many years later in which he was able to write a chronicle of the experience.

Please, use this timely opportunity to reach out across your community this week. Share these stories with friends.

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Novelist Rex Beach.The story of a Beach—and a Beach

SUZY FARBMAN tells a fascinating true story this week of her husband’s efforts to save a Michigan beach for public access—in a location associated with the once-famous American novelist Rex Beach. Never heard of him? Well, you’re in for a treat! Read this story and you may want to reach back and check out one of his tales—or even watch one of the many movies based on his adventurous yarns. One of those movies stars John Wayne. And, if you’re passing through northern Michigan? Take off your shoes and stroll along the Beach-related public beach that Burton Farbman helped to save.

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Australian Christian podcaster Daniel Gettis.

Click Daniel’s photo to listen.

And now, Live from Australia!

DAVID GUSHEE CIRCLES THE GLOBE—It’s a real treat to hear Australian evangelical podcaster Daniel Gettis introduce David Gushee, the noted Christian ethicist and author of Changing Our Mind. As Gettis describes him: “Gushee has thrown himself into this world of Christian ethics, figuring out how, then, we should live in light of what Jesus Christ has done for humanity.” Gettis does not entirely agree with Gushee’s case for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people within the church—nor do many listeners to Gettis’s podcast. As Gettis explains it: “This podcast is about presenting another side of a conversation you might not have heard before—and that’s a good thing.”

We completely agree, and we are impressed with Gettis’s interview of Gushee. In a one-hour conversation, Gettis models the kind of civil conversation that stands in stark contrast to the kinds of angry debates staged in much of American media on these issues. Check out the August 1 podcast yourself. And, if you care to learn more about the book, jump over to Amazon and get a copy.

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Mario Lopez ‘clearly needs a primer on trans issues’

Cover of MSU book 100 Questions and Answers about Gender Identity

Click the cover to learn more about the book.

HOW ABOUT YOU? That recommendation of a primer for Lopez came from Sarah Kate Ellis, head of GLAAD, the media advocacy group on behalf of LGBTQ people. At issue was the confused and admittedly hurtful way TV celebrity Mario Lopez talked about transgender family issues on a recent TV show with a conservative host. Later, Lopez publicly apologized, a story covered by ADVOCATE magazine. In that story, Sarah Kate Ellis was quoted as describing Lopez’s remarks as dangerous, a reflection of his ignorance—and she concluded that he “clearly needs a primer on trans issues.”

In 2018, the Michigan State University School of Journalism Bias Busters team published exactly that kind of primer: 100 Questions and answers about Gender Identity. This week, we are mailing a copy to the offices of both Lopez and Ellis. Want your own copy? Visit Amazon and order a copy today.

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And Speaking of Ignorance?
Here’s Another Way We Can Help

100 Questions and Answers about American Jews‘AMERICANS KNOW LITTLE ABOUT JUDAISM’—That’s the conclusion of the latest Pew Research Center religious knowledge survey, as reported on August 1. The report says: “Compared with other Americans, U.S. Jews have relatively high levels of religious knowledge—including about non-Jewish religions like Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. But most non-Jewish Americans are unable to answer some basic factual questions about Jewish practices.”

That same MSU School of Journalism Bias Busters team publishes 100 Questions and Answers about American Jews. Here’s an overview of that book and the topics it covers. Or, you could simply jump to Amazon and order a copy of that guide, as well.

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20 Marketing Tips for Effective Authors

How many have you checked off? In this week’s Front Edge Publishing column, marketing expert Susan Stitt provides a valuable checklist of the most effective steps authors can take to build an audience. Are you an author? A friend of an author? Take a look at Susan’s checklist and see how many of these ideas you—or your friend—have checked off. Social media and digital tools like video are powerful ways to reach readers—but the core of Susan’s message is that authors really are trying to build a community around their books. Many of Susan’s tips involve the basic values of good friendship.

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Movie still from The Lion King 2019.

Click the movie still to read Ed’s review.

Faith & Film

ED McNULTY, for decades, has published reviews, magazine articles and books exploring connections between faith and film. Most of his work is freely published. Ed supports his work by selling the Visual Parables Journal, a monthly magazine packed with discussion guides to films. This resource is used coast-to-coast by individuals who love the movies and by educators, clergy and small-group leaders.

Among Ed’s free reviews and columns are:

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