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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Books, Movies, Videos

B O O K S
A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Now Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation by Diana L. Eck explores how the landscape of America has drastically changed over the past 30 years. The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act that dropped quotas by national origins facilitated the influx of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians. There are more American Muslims than American Episcopalians, Presbyterians or Jews. There are more than 300 temples in Los Angeles, home to the greatest variety of Buddhists in the world. Eck, director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., writes as a Christian who has had her faith broadened and deepened by encounters with people of different religions.

Eck presents portraits of American Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. She outlines some of the challenges that the armed services, public schools, workplaces and community zoning boards face with the beliefs and practices of diverse religious groups. She also salutes the interfaith movement for sponsoring increased dialogue and more cooperative ventures between members of different traditions. And last, but not least, she asks us to consider the positive ways this burgeoning religious diversity will transform everything — from American electoral politics to education to health care. Eck's book is a bridge-building effort coming just at the right time in our history (HarperSanFrancisco).

M O V I E S
Greenfinders revolves around Colin Briggs (Clive Owen), a prisoner nearing the end of a long murder sentence. His life is turned around when he is transferred to a minimum security facility in the Cotswolds. There he is befriended by Fergus Wilks (David Kelly), an eccentric elderly man who loves flowers. The two are given the assignment of cultivating the prison's first garden. When Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren), a gardening expert, sees the wonders they produce, she sponsors Colin, Fergus and their friends at the prestigious Court Palace Flower Show. This English comedy vividly demonstrates how the simple satisfactions of planting a seed, watching it grow into a plant and taking care of it can become a way of nurturing one's soul as well. As Colin and Fergus discover, gardening offers a taste of freedom that is positively exhilarating (Fireworks Pictures, not rated).

V I D E O S
The Trumpet of the Swan is the third children's book by E.B. White to be brought to the screen (the others were Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little). The central character in this animated musical is Louie, a mute trumpeter swan who is forced to take extreme measures to express his unique personality. He becomes a master trumpet player, thanks to the support given him by Sam, a young boy. The movie, like Stuart Little, shows youngsters that physical flaws can be used to our advantage, encouraging us to develop new talents and abilities. The moral: Be true to yourself (Columbia TriStar, G).

Eck presents portraits of American Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. She outlines some of the challenges that the armed services, public schools, workplaces and community zoning boards face with the beliefs and practices of diverse religious groups. She also salutes the interfaith movement for sponsoring increased dialogue and more cooperative ventures between members of different traditions. And last, but not least, she asks us to consider the positive ways this burgeoning religious diversity will transform everything — from American electoral politics to education to health care. Eck's book is a bridge-building effort coming just at the right time in our history (HarperSanFrancisco).


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December issue

DECEMBER issue:

Advent: Waiting together

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