Over the course of five years, it's had three names. But regardless of what it's called -- now it's Spirit in the House -- the spiritual element of the Minnesota Fringe Festival continues to grow.

The event, which continues daily through March 8, uses film, music, theater, dance, poetry and storytelling to explore, among other things, spirituality, ethics, interfaith dialogue and social justice. For those for whom even that's not enough, there's also a series of workshops on relating art to spirituality.

New this year is an increase in films. There will be 15, surpassing the number of theater events for the first time. (Theater fans, don't fret; there still are 14 of those.) But there's so much going on that you still likely will have to pick and choose, as events take place simultaneously in multiple venues at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

Originally called the Spiritual Fringe, the festival started in 2005 as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival. In 2007, it split off as a separate entity called Manna Fest, hosted by Augsburg College. Last year, it became Spirit in the House and moved into the church at 511 Groveland Av.

A full calendar of the events is available at www.spiritinthehouse.org. There are a number of ticket packages available, with details on the website. Be sure to check out the clever names, including the Sacri-Licious punch card and the Nirvana-rama pass. Parking is free.

Belief in the net

When Steven Waldman walked away from a prestigious job at Newsweek in 1999 to start a website devoted to religion, many of his colleagues thought he was making a mistake. When Beliefnet.com declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy two years later, they were sure he had made a mistake.

Oh, ye of little faith. Today, Beliefnet is booming, thanks to Waldman's ability to reach out to a vast array of faiths -- from Christianity and Judaism to Falun Gong and Zoroastrianism. He addresses serious issues (tips for raising an interfaith family) while never losing his sense of humor: Users can link to the Belief-O-Matic, which "assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul."

The website is doing so well, in fact, that Waldman has had time to write a bestseller, "Founding Faith: Providence, Politics and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America." Plus, he has time to travel, including taking part in the continuing Faith & Life Lecture Series sponsored by St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church in Plymouth. Because of the big turnout expected, his speech at 7 p.m. Friday has been moved to the Hopkins High School auditorium. Admission is free.

Jewish film fest is back

The annual Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival kicks off Thursday -- literally, with a movie about soccer -- and continues through March 15.

Most movies will be shown at the Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Rd., Minneapolis. But the opening-night offering, "Sixty Six," a comedy about a British boy who discovers that his bar mitzvah is scheduled opposite the World Cup soccer championship, will be shown at the Willow Creek multiplex in Plymouth at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Sabes Center's website (www.sabesjcc.org) includes a link to a full schedule of the films.

No one loved 'Guru'

Speaking of films, remember in May when Hindu leaders called for a boycott of the Mike Myers comedy "The Love Guru" because it belittled their faith? Now that the movie has dominated the Razzies -- the tongue-in-cheek anti-Oscars awarded to the worst movies of the year -- Myers has earned their sympathy.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism and the person who initially complained about the movie, announced that if Myers seeks forgiveness from the Hindus they not only will absolve him but "pray for his success in future ventures." Oh, yeah, he also has to promise not to make fun of them again.

Perhaps he should take them up on the deal. At this point, he can use all the help he can get, having won the Razzies for the year's worst movie, worst performance and worst script.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392