The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


August 1999 Books/Movies/Videos

Soul Among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher (Westminster John Knox Press) is described by the author, Will D. Campbell, as "bubblings from the depths of one man's soul." He writes about race relations, ethnic cleansing, legislated morality and homelessness. Dom Helder Camara once stated that we must carry a reverence for justice as a mother carries a reverence for her unborn child. Campbell has fulfilled this holy calling in his life and writings.

Thank You for Being Such a Pain: Spiritual Guidance for Dealing with Difficult People (Three Rivers Press) by Mark I. Rosen is a remarkable ethical work. "The pain and frustration and suffering we experience with certain people are just as important for our personal and spiritual growth as love and joy," writes the author. Difficult people are "cosmic couriers" sent by God to refine our characters and help us be more empathetic and compassionate. Rosen presents specific strategies for healing difficult relationships through kindness, forgiveness and gratitude.

Regret to Inform (Artistic License, not rated) is a poignant and heart-affecting documentary that won a 1999 Independent Spirit Award. Twenty years later, Barbara Sonneborn visits the place where her husband was killed in Vietnam and performs a ritual for everyone who died in that long war. She presents the stories of other grieving American widows and interviews the wives of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers. This movie itself is an act of healing with its message about reconciliation.

Tarzan (Buena Vista, G) is a delightful and fast-moving animated film based on the adventure novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. A mother gorilla rescues an orphaned baby boy and raises him as her own child in an extended gorilla family. She realizes that Tarzan is linked to them all through the beating of his heart. He grows up into a fearless and agile animal. However, his life is immeasurably complicated when he meets Jane, a human who is on expedition in Africa with her father. This is a fine family film that affirms our spirit connection with all members of the animal kingdom.

Pema Chodron and Alice Walker in Conversation on the Meaning of Suffering and the Mystery of Joy (Sounds True Video, not rated) presents a dialogue between the Buddhist nun and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Walker is buoyed by the realization that our suffering and flaws connect us with other beings. Both women reveal the benefits of regular spiritual practice as a way of opening the heart to the world. They also discuss the fruitlessness of violence, anger, aggression and revenge. Compassion is a much better path.


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