The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


September 1999 Books/Movies/Videos

Zen Computer: Mindfulness and the Machine (Simon and Schuster) by Philip Toshio Sudo is a wonderfully practical and wise manual that creatively applies the ancient insights of Zen to the modern technology of bits and bytes: "You need not belong to the church of Microsoft, worship at the altar of Apple, or convert to Buddhism to reap the benefits." Sudo suggests ways to integrate our computer work with our spiritual life. For example: "The next time you hit ENTER ask yourself: What am I entering? Is it a command? A piece of data? Or can it be the gates of enlightenment?" This user-friendly resource is an essential guide to the craft of everyday spirituality.

The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality (Doubleday) by Ronald Rolheiser cogently spells out reasons why membership and participation in a church community is a non-negotiable element of Christian faith. He defines spirituality as what we do with the passion inside us. One of the arguments for church attendance: "If our creeds are correct, and I believe they are, we are destined to spend eternity with billions and billions of other people. Worshiping in large groups is a good way of getting practice at this."

Earth (Zeitgeist, 1999, not rated) is an Indian film directed by Deepa Mehta. It's set in Lahore in 1947 during the Partition period when the country was divided into India and Pakistan in response to political and ethnic pressures. This amalgam of tension, betrayal and murder is unraveled before the eyes of an 8-year-old Parsee girl. Her nanny is involved with a circle of friends that will be torn apart by religious hatred. Here is a profoundly important drama about love and hate in a country where the personal and political are deeply intertwined.

Children of Heaven (Miramax, 1999, PG) is a bright jewel of a film that touches the heart and reveals the universality of familial love and the determination of children to make do in even the most dire circumstances. The story revolves around the exhausting efforts of a 9-year-old Teheran boy and his little sister to share a pair of shoes. In the world of children, small gestures and simple activities take on great meaning.

Shiloh 2 (Warner Bros., 1999, PG) is a deeply moral drama about a 12-year-old boy's efforts to deal with a nasty and alcoholic neighbor who mistreated his dog. Following the instructions of his heart, he reaches out to the man, who is scorned by the community as a "bad apple." This film dramatizes the courage and patience needed by all who try to practice compassion and kindness in a world where separation is the norm.


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