Here are today’s post-Thanksgiving dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture — including current and upcoming DVD releases.

1. Serving Life documentary serves up heart-rending yet inspirational chronicle of a prison hospice. 

Narrated by Forest Whitaker and originally airing on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable channel, this Odyssey Networks production is as compassionate as it is gritty among the most-powerful documentaries I have ever seen. It’s also poignant reminder of the power of forgiveness and the humanity that exists inside everyone. It’s scheduled for DVD release on January 17, 2011.  Recommended.

2. Amish-themed The Shunning offers solid storytelling.

Originally airing on The Hallmark Channel and also an Odyssey production, the first of Beverly Lewis’ Lancaster County trilogy tells the story of Katie Lapp (Danielle Panabaker), a young Amish woman about to be married to a local bishop when a letter connected to a secret surrounding the circumstances of her birth changes her life forever.  The movie is remarkable in its compassionate portrayal of the Amish while forthrightly dealing with just how harsh strict adherence to religious law can be. In the end, it’s about the value of forgiveness and being true to who you are.  It’s available now on DVD.  Recommended.
BTW, The Confession, the second installment of the trilogy, is currently in development and will air on Hallmark sometime in 2012.

3. Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith suggests some hope for network TV.

The Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation aired last night on ABC.  Though I only caught a portion of it, I hope it gets strong ratings so the broadcast networks will be encouraged to do more programming like it. I could even envision and recommend a TV series based on the the Laurence Fishburne’s Rev. Henry Covington character. After all, way back in the seventies The Waltons was spun out of a similar Christmas special called The Homecoming.

3. Snowmen DVD rolls out for Christmas.

Truly a movie for the whole family that should help fill any kid’s Christmas stocking. Recommended. Read my review here.

4. Family Movie Night on DVD. Also recommended,  the three most recent Walmart-P&G Family Movie Night films, Field of Vision, Who is Simon Miller? and Game Time: Tackling the Past will go on sale exclusively at Walmart on Tuesday, November 29, 2011. They’re $13.00 each.

Meanwhile, Game of Your Life the newest of the series, is set to debut on NBC this Friday (Dec. 2).  I’ll be reviewing it on Thursday. Till then, here’s a peek.

5. Charlie Brown beats Lady Gaga in Thanksgiving ratings. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, ABC’s repeat presentation of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving beat the same network’s premiere of A Very Gaga Thanksgiving — 5.8 million viewers to 5.4 million viewers.

6. One more Thanksgiving thought. I received this from the public relations agency The Maximus Group. I think it’s worth sharing and remembering all year round.

O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those
who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out
for what we take for granted.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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