Faith’s Benefits – Societal

Emanuel: Steph Curry movie documents Charleston church shooting forgiveness.  Some members of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shocked observers by appearing in court two days after Dylann Roof massacred their family members at a 2015 Bible study session, and telling him they forgave him.  Would I do that?  Would you?  (Short op-ed)

CNN’s Redemption Project: Could you forgive your loved-one’s killer?  When someone offends you, do you get even?  Ignore?  Seek to reconcile?  Suppose their offense were killing your loved one or maiming them – or you – for life.  Would you meet with the perpetrator and talk it out?  Van Jones presents compelling, moving, true stories of offenders encountering the offended.  (Short op-ed)

Woodlawn movie: racial strife, football, faith.  A nation too-often tarnished by racial conflict could use an inspiring film like this.  The poignant story of NFL star Tony Nathan and how football plus faith helped bring harmony among racial enemies during his high school years in early 1970s Birmingham, Alabama.  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are executive producers.  (Short op-ed)

WW II movie drama: Christian students hiding Jews from Nazis.  As the world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Return to the Hiding Place dramatically portrays a forgotten story of dedicated Dutch students’ vital role in rescuing hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution.  Driven by faith, love and conviction, they endured great hardship and risked their lives to protect the oppressed from Hitler’s terror.  (Short op-ed)

Does God’s Love Make You Want to Give?  Some current social scientific research suggests it might.  Intriguing survey results, and an inspiring story of Auntie Anne, the pretzel lady.  (Short op-ed)

Human Trafficking Movie Grabs Hearts.  Annika, a delicate young girl, has been unwittingly handed into virtual slavery by her homeless father.  Sweatshop labor and sex-for-sale portend a bleak future, unless someone intervenes.  Caden, a spoiled, rich, 20-year-old Southern California student, determines to be that someone.  Their inspiring saga in the feature film Not Today might grab your heart, too.  (Short op-ed)

Les Misérables film: Mercy Triumphs.  Could receiving a healthy dose of kindness and mercy help transform a person’s life?  Victor Hugo thought so.  The 19th Century French social reformer wove his famous novel Les Misérables around the theme of grace trumping legalism.  A new film based on the successful musical opens Christmas Day.  (Short op-ed)

Evangelicals’ Image Problem.  God should have sued Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for defamation, says New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.  “Few words conjure as much distaste in liberal circles as ‘evangelical Christian,’” he writes.  So why does he sing evangelicals’ praises?  (Short op-ed)

Gay Mayor, Christians in Surprising Alliance.  Portland, Oregon, mayor Sam Adams gets “calls from mayors of liberal cities all across the United States asking me if I’ve been abducted by aliens.”  He tells them the churches and the city really do cooperate in social services and that “we’re better for it.”  (Short op-ed)

Atlanta Volunteers Change Lives.  Want a dose of inspiration and motivation?  Take a look at these fine folks who are getting “out of their seats and into the streets” to help meet Atlanta’s physical, psychological and spiritual needs.  (Short op-ed)

Tony Blair’s God Thing.  By Rusty Wright and Meg Korpi.  When Blair was British Prime Minister, his press secretary once explained to reporters, “We don’t do God.”  Today, Blair promotes God and faith freely.  What’s he up to?  (Short op-ed)

When Ted Kennedy Met Jerry Falwell.  When the lion of liberalism met the Moral Majority founder, some surprising, humorous, and positive things happened.  Insights on bridge building that could well inform today’s rancorous debates.  (Short op-ed)

Church’s intolerant past not a true representation of Christianity.  Does Christianity promote racism?  Is it just for whites?  How could the faith whose founder told people to “love one another” be associated with racial oppression? (Short op-ed)

Christianity and Racism: Does Christianity promote racism?  Is it a “white person’s religion?”  A biblical perspective on these controversial questions.  (Probe radio series transcript.)

Amazing Grace Movie: Lessons for Today’s Politicians.  Can God and politics mix?  Leaders contemplating faith-in-action would do well to look back two centuries to William Wilberforce, the famous British parliamentarian who led a grueling but inspiring twenty-year struggle to outlaw the slave trade.  (Short op-ed)

William Wilberforce and Abolishing the Slave Trade.  A profound change led this famous British parliamentarian on a path that some say cost him the prime ministership, but helped rescue an oppressed people and a nation’s character.  An inspiring story with lasting social and personal implications.  (Probe radio series transcript.)

Amazing Grace in John Newton.  This slave-trader-turned-pastor significantly impacted the eighteenth century British campaign to abolish the African slave trade.  You’ve likely heard his classic song.  Perhaps you think you know his inspiring story.  You may discover that you don’t!  (Probe radio series transcript)

West Africans to African-Americans: “We Apologize for Slavery”.  Africans make poignant apology to African Americans for their ancestors’ complicity in the slave trade.  (Short op-ed)

Atheist Recommends God.  By Rusty Wright and Meg Korpi.  A prominent British political observer and journalist says, “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.”  What did he encounter that “confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God”?  (Short op-ed)  French

Responding to Poverty.  Why does poverty exist?  How does it destroy minds as well as bodies?  What is a biblical perspective on poverty?  And what should we do about it?   Facts and colorful stories illustrate needs and potential remedies. (Probe radio series transcript.)

How to Surprise your Mayor.  When you’re the mayor, people who talk to you very often want something from you.  Luis Palau asked Portland’s mayor how churches could help the city.  The result: massive – and inspiring – mobilization to tackle homelessness, poverty, hunger, healthcare, and more.  (Short op-ed)

A Famous Revolutionary’s Surprising Past.  Spiritual roots of a radical leader you’ve heard of.  (Short op-ed)

Tiananmen Leader’s Divine Cause.  Chinese student Chai Ling helped lead the massive 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that drew the world’s praise and her government’s wrath.  Twice nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, today this Harvard MBA is a successful businesswoman who still risks persecution to bring reform toChina.  Her current activities might surprise you.  (Short op-ed)

Faith-Based Initiatives Worth Considering.  Do faith-based social programs really work?  A look at a model prison initiative in Texas that is making headlines with encouraging results.  (Short op-ed)

Could Church Involvement Improve Kid’s Grades?  Recent studies suggest it might play a part.  (Short op-ed)

Animal House Revisited: Fraternity Fosters Faith.  College fraternities sometimes make headlines for all the wrong reasons.  Here’s a group that encourages members to develop the spiritual side of life.  (Short op-ed)

Leftist Jewish Journalist Survives Evangelical Beat.  What do you get when you take one leftist Jewish journalist, assign him to the evangelical Christian beat for major newspapers on both US coasts, sprinkle in some fiery sermons and politically conservative speeches, mix thoroughly, and bake with the heat of fiercely contested national elections?  Important lessons from a peculiar and unlikely journey. (Short op-ed)

John Rhys-Davies: Veteran actor with heart and conviction.  When I interviewed veteran actor John Rhys-Davies at a film premiere recently, I already knew we had several things in common.  We both understand some Swahili, studied at UK universities, and married older women.  But I was not aware of his deep concerns about two significant social issues – slavery and anti-Semitism – that also ignite my passions.  (Short op-ed)

Jonah movie: Whom would you like God to punish?  So, if there is a God, and he punishes evildoers, whom would you especially like him to judge?  And if he gave that person(s) a second chance – to follow him – would you be pleased or disappointed?  Maybe you can identify with Jonah, the biblical prophet.  A new movie musical tells his dramatic and entertaining story.  (Short op-ed)

Dunkirk movie: WW2 mayhem and miracles.  When your back’s against the wall, and the enemy’s closing in fast, and all hope appears lost, it might be a good time to consider praying.  That’s what faced England in May 1940.  Hitler’s war machine had pinned nearly 400,000 Allied troops by the English Channel.  Surrender or annihilation seemed imminent.  The ensuing drama inspired millions and significantly influenced the war’s outcome.  Warner Bros. brings this epic story to the big screen.  (Short op-ed)

Same Kind of Different movie: An inspiring odd couple.  Not always in sync with your spouse or partner?  Try befriending a homeless ex-con who shuns you.  Maybe some miracles will happen.  Homeless drifter Denver Moore became a catalyst that transformed Ron and Deborah Hall’s lives and jumpstarted a major community service movement.  Paramount and PureFlix bring the bestselling book Same Kind of Different as Me to the big screen.  (Short op-ed)

Best of Enemies movie: Klan leader, black activist; race, religion, reconciliation.  What happens when you assign a Ku Klux Klan president and a Black civil rights activist – in the racially charged 1971 U.S. South – to collaborate on school desegregation?  Shouting?  Threats?  Violence?  Murder?  Fasten your seatbelts for a wild ride that few back then could have predicted.  (Short op-ed)  Chinese

Amazing Grace movie: recording Aretha Franklin’s best-selling album.  After the Queen of Soul’s 2018 death, her family released the long-mothballed 1972 documentary about recording her bestselling album at a Los Angeles church.  Mick Jagger was in Aretha’s church audience.  Critics are raving.  What’s it all about?  (Short op-ed)