The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best This Month

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat's reviews are available on the Web. For more information on something reviewed in this column, visit www.SpiritualityHealth.com. More than 4,000 reviews exist in the database, and new ones are added every Friday.


The Essential Parish Nurse: ABCs for Congregational Health Ministry
by Deborah L. Patterson traces the history of this movement in the United States. The author, a United Church of Christ minister, is executive director of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center and Deaconess Parish Nurse Ministries in St. Louis. She estimates there are now close to 10,000 parish nurses in America. In her stirring explanation of this ministry she wrote: "Parish nursing fits the model of wellness and prevention in a way that touches lives across generational, cultural and socioeconomic lines. It draws a healing circle around a congregation and extends that circle into the community, blowing open the doors of churches in renewing and life-affirming ways. Once a congregation fully grasps the implications for change, healing and hope inherent in the parish nursing model, it is forever changed."

What roles can a parish nurse play? The nurse can be an integrator of faith and health, a health educator, a health counselor, a referral adviser, an advocate, developer of support groups and a volunteer coordinator. Patterson presents a summary of costs of a program and offers suggestions on making a health ministry accessible and visible through a health fair. The appendix includes other essential information, including a sample job description for the parish nurse (The Pilgrim Press, 2003).


Friday Night Lights
takes place in Odessa, Texas, where high school football is the only thing that matters. The town's hopes and dreams begin and end with winning the state championship. To be a football player in this community is a blessing and a curse: a blessing because it's great to have so much attention and adulation, a curse because no 17-year-old boy should have to deal daily with the high expectations of the whole community. At one time, football was fun to play.

Friday Night Lights is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist H.G. Bissinger's 1990 book. Peter Berg directs this razzle-dazzle movie and co-wrote the screenplay with David Aaron Cohen. The movie vividly conveys the town's unhealthy win-at-all-costs ethic, obsession with sports over education, rampant racism, incredible pressure put on young men and investment of all feelings of local pride in the results of a Friday-night game.

Billy Bob Thornton puts in a stellar performance as Coach Gaines who must live with the expectation of the town's boosters that he will produce winners season after season. During one of the low points of the year, Gaines and his wife discover "For Sale" signs on their lawn. The film's final 10 minutes ought to stir the pulse of any true football fan: the fast and snappy editing of David Rosenbloom and Colby Parker Jr. make for a visual treat par excellence (Universal Pictures, PG-13 for thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking and rough sports action).


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February issue


Embracing diversity