Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 04/14/21

72nd annual Christopher Award winners announced. COVID-19 has again scuttled the in-person event but the virus hasn’t stopped the Catholic organization from proceeding with, as it has done since instituting the awards in 1949, celebrating media artists whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit” and reflects the Christopher motto that “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

Of this year’s winners, Christophers Director of Communications Tony Rossi says “The stories we are honoring introduce us to people and experiences that may not be a part of our everyday lives…Stories of refugees fleeing violence and persecution, for instance, or young caregivers devoting themselves to loved ones with dementia and other medical issues remind us how much we have in common even when the particulars of our lives differ. They remind us that we are all children of the same God, that we are all worthy of compassion and respect, and that the power of love and faith can change the world for the better.”

And the winners are:

TV, Cable, & Streaming

The Children of Auschwitz (ABC News). The story of seven survivors who, 75 years after the liberation, return to the death camp to honor the dead and keep their stories alive for future generations.

Black Patriots: Heroes of the American Revolution (History/A&E Networks). NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores the little-known role that African Americans played in fighting for this country’s independence.

Bravery and Hope: 7 Days on the Front Line (CBS News). During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of CBS News journalists document the physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles of medical personnel, patients, and their families in one Bronx neighborhood during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Broken Places (PBS/WNET). A look into the lives of young people who have experienced sexual abuse, parental rejection, or poverty—and the question of why some children are damaged by early adversity, while others are able to thrive and move beyond generational trauma.

 

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (Netflix). A Scrooge-like woman confronts a painful choice from her past with the help of a couple of angels, allowing her to forgive herself and re-embrace the people she used to call friends.

extraORDINARY: The Bill Atkinson Story (PBS). The story of one man’s tireless efforts to become the first quadriplegic priest in the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history and the positive influence he had on the lives of many.

Feature Films

Clouds (Disney Plus). Based on a true story, Clouds dramatizes the final six months of 17-year-old Zach Sobiech’s life as his faith inspires him to pursue his musical dreams despite his cancer, living all his days to their fullest with the people he loves most.

 

Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton (Family Theater Productions). A profile of the priest whose gratitude for a miraculous healing led him to create a media ministry that popularized the life-changing idea “The family that prays together stays together.”

 

Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation (Sky Blossom Films). Selfless young people, aged 11 to 26,  juggle school and work while lovingly caring for family members enduring medical problems or injuries sustained in war.

The Way Back (Warner Bros. Pictures). Mired in the depths of alcoholism because of a family tragedy, Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) pursues redemption when he takes a job coaching the basketball team at the Catholic high school where he thrived as a player.

Books for Adults

After the Last Border by Jessica Goudeau (Viking/Penguin Random House). The author chronicles the lives of two refugees—one from Myanmar, the other from Syria—who escape violence and persecution in their homelands to resettle in the United States in the hopes of building a better life with their families.

Grace from the Rubble by Jeanne Bishop (Zondervan/Harper Collins). The author explores the unlikely friendship between two fathers: Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and Bill McVeigh, whose son Timothy perpetrated the terrorist act.

 

A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett (Crown Publishing/Penguin Random House). The author recalls the reasons she became a lawyer who fights for clemencies, second chances, and humane treatment of prisoners sentenced to life without parole due to racism and unfair drug laws.

Nothing General About It by Maurice Benard with Susan Black (William Morrow/Harper Collins). The General Hospital star documents his lifelong battles with bipolar disorder and anxiety, the love and medications that helped him thrive, and his commitment to erasing the stigma around mental illness.

Voyage of Mercy by Stephen Puleo (St. Martin’s Press). The historian shares the story of the U.S. government and private citizens from all economic backgrounds leading America’s first humanitarian mission in response to Ireland’s 1846-47 potato famine.

Wheels of Courage by David Davis (Center Street/Hachette Book Group). The story of how, at a time when paraplegics injured in World War II were considered lost causes, doctors and determined veterans invented innovative wheelchair sports, created medical advances, and fought for disability rights.

Books for Young People

Trying by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Elise Hurst (Preschool and up, Compendium). An empowering tale about what failure can teach children when it is faced with courage, love, and the determination to try new things, regardless of the outcome.

Tiara’s Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (Kindergarten and Up, Albert Whitman and Company). A spirited African American girl marches forward with her creative plan to reignite her mother’s passion for hat-making after the family hat shop closes down due to financial troubles.

Fauja Singh Keeps Going by Simran Jeet Singh, illustrated by Baljinder Kaur (ages 6 and up, Kokila/Penguin Random House). The true story of a Sikh man who, despite being disabled as a child, became the first person over age 100 to complete a marathon.

Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel, illustrated Oliver Dominguez (ages 8 and up, Lee and Low Books). The origin story of one of the world’s favorite snacks follows Mexican cook Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya his impromptu culinary creation gains popularity in his home country and around the world.

Five Things About Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway (ages 10 and up, Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins). A shy, anxious 11-year-old with a heart condition moves beyond her awkwardness to become a social activist after signing up for improv classes.

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (young adult, Levine Querido). A middle schooler tells his classmates about his family’s escape from Iran after his mother converted to Christianity, a capital offense in that country. Inspired by Persian folk tales and the author’s own family history.

The Christophers is a nonprofit founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller that’s rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. If you’d like to learn more about it click here.

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