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Alex Jennings pushes Maggie Smith in a still from 'The Lady in the Van.' Photo courtesy of ©2016 Sony Pictures Classics

WATCH LIST: January 2016

By Observer Staff

The Lady in the Van
(BBC Films)

Adapted from British author Alan Bennett’s hit 1999 stage play, this “mostly true” story features the formidable Maggie Smith as Miss Mary Shepherd, an outspoken homeless woman who claims the Virgin Mary as a personal adviser. When Bennett lets Shepherd park her van in his driveway, what was intended as a temporary arrangement stretches to 15 years. Jan. 29

With Us Always: Daily Devotions Framed by the Movies
(United Church Publishing House)

Faith plays a starring role in this book of Lenten devotions inspired by memorable scenes from popular films. Drawing connections between
big-screen stories and the Bible’s cast of characters, weekly readings based on the lectionary reveal God’s presence in all the moments of our lives. Available in paperback or e-book format through UCRDstore.ca. Jan. 1

Judas: The Most Hated Name in History

Two thousand years after betraying Jesus with a kiss, Judas Iscariot still looms large as a symbol of treachery. But how does the man compare to the myth? In a fascinating new biography, British author Peter Stanford explores the cultural and theological history of Christianity’s greatest villain, asking if Judas the evil traitor might better be described as Judas the hapless scapegoat. Jan. 12

Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World
(Yale University Press)

In Flourishing, Protestant theologian Miroslav Volf examines two great forces shaping society today: globalization and the world’s major faith traditions. Together they affect virtually every aspect of our lives, from public policy decisions to our private hopes and desires. If globalization were to embrace religion’s vision of a life well lived, we might learn to truly thrive, Volf argues. Jan. 12

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