The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


books movies, videos

For full reviews, visit the Brussats' Web site, Spiritual Rx.


Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril by Sallie McFague is a timely and soul-stirring work addressed to North Americans who enjoy the benefits of a high standard of living. Her jubilant credo is: "We live to give God glory by loving the world and everything in it." Unpacking what this entails, she notes: "The Christian way inevitably leads to an understanding of salvation as deification, being like God. Made in God's image, we are to grow into that reality by doing what God does: love the world."

In place of the reigning economic worldview or corporate model that leads to the destruction of the environment and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, McFague posits the organismic model that provides a context for the health and well-being of all. The author believes that churches have a great mission to demonstrate an alternate notion of the abundant life that will involve a philosophy of "enoughness," limited energy use and sacrifice for others. This is a perfect book for adult education groups to discuss (Fortress Press). Available from www.augsburgfortress.org.


Spring Forward is a marvelous low-key movie about a friendship that slowly unspools over the course of four seasons between two unlikely souls. Paul is an ex-con working for the parks and recreation department of a small New England town. His partner is Murph, a veteran who is nearing retirement. The older man patiently listens to Paul's enthusiastic reports on the spiritual books he's read. The younger fellow tries to clean up his language since it bothers his partner.

Near the end of this film written and directed by Tom Gilroy, Paul helps a woman who has been beaten by her husband. Knowing what it feels like to be treated as though you are nothing, he listens to her with empathy and patience. Paul is able to do this because Murph has given him a second chance at work and at friendship. We all need someone, at one time or another, to give us a lifeline. This moving film, one of the best of 2000, beautifully charts the process of spiritual unfolding (IFC Films, R — adult language).


The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit is a humorous and inventive collection of award-winning short films by Nick Park and Aardman Animations, which earlier this year brought us Chicken Run. The lead characters here are Wallace, an oddball inventor whose social skills are somewhat deficient, and Gromit, his patient and resourceful dog. Their incredible adventures take them to the moon, involve them unwillingly in a diamond theft and force them to do battle with a robotic guard dog. A theme running through these clever stories is humanity's love/hate affair with technology (Warner Video, 2000, not rated).


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