The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Books, Movies, Videos

The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, edited by Patrick Hart and Jonathan Montaldo, contains the finest selections from seven volumes of journals by Thomas Merton (1915-1968), who was a pioneer in interreligious dialogue. This Trappist monk's character and conscience are mirrored on these pages as he muses on the meaning of the Shakers and their communal aspirations, savors the book of Job, ponders a dream about the black Mother, experiences an epiphany on a city street and talks with the Dalai Lama. (HarperSanFrancisco.)

Spiritual Quest: A Guide to the Changing Landscape by Thomas Hart delineates ways we can experience God in the midst of everyday life. He defines spirituality as "a relationship with the mystery" and envisions churches as spirituality centers. Hart concludes with concrete principles for the undergirding of a healthy Christianity. (Paulist Press.)

Agnes Brown is a superb English film directed by Anjelica Huston. In 1967, following the sudden death of her working-class husband, Agnes Brown finds herself hard-pressed to support her seven children as a vendor in Dublin. Her best friend, Marion, is always there to lift her spirits. This drama celebrates the friendship of these two women. One of Marion's endearing habits is to stop daily in the Roman Catholic Church and say "good morning" to God in a loud and loving voice. (USA Films, R-language.)

The Cider House Rules tells of an orphan's search for a sense of self and vocation. Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom draws out the natural beauty, tenderness and intimacy of this slow-blooming drama based on John Irving's 1985 novel. The film's message is simple: We are all orphans, wrestling with who we are, where we come from and why we're here at all. Go where you are wanted. Go where you are needed. Go where you belong. (Miramax, PG-13-mature thematic elements, nudity, some violence.)

Baraka delivers an unforgettable collection of snapshots from the global family album. The title of this non-narrative film is a Sufi term meaning "blessing" or "essence of life." It was photographed on six continents in 24 countries. Startling, powerful and moving images portray the variety of nature, city life, sacred sites, rituals and the shared distress of earth and humankind. The images are carried into our consciousness and connected to our feelings by the soul-stirring music of composer Michael Stearns. Baraka expands our awareness of the world and helps widen our circle of compassion. It enables us to see and feel that the healing of self and the healing of the planet are inextricably linked. (MPI, not rated.)


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