The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


books, movies, videos

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


Living from the Center: Spirituality in the Age of Consumerism by Jay McDaniel presents a zealous vision of the faith that is imaginative, concrete, user-friendly and capacious. The author, a professor of religion at Hendrix College, Conway, Ark., examines nine ways of knowing God: discernment, sacramental awareness, openness to healing, living-by-dying, trust in open space, deep listening, courage in suffering, creativity and loving-kindness. These are the building blocks for the abundant life that Jesus talks about in the Gospel of John. They make it possible for Christians to "live from the center." This approach is an alternative to consumerism where bigger is considered better, the fastest is best, and individuals believe they can have it all. McDaniel shows that small is beautiful, good things come slowly, and enough is enough.

For believers this insightful book points the way into the future with its fine-tuned melding of spirituality and ethics. At one point, McDaniel calls himself a "Christian in the making." Here's a soul-stirring journey for those joining him on that journey (Chalince Press).


Cast Away stars Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer who is so busy that he only has a few minutes to celebrate Christmas with his girlfriend before flying off to solve a company crisis. After his plane goes down in the South Pacific during a storm, he washes up on a deserted island where he'll spend the next four years. The drama, directed by Robert Zemeckis, shows how hope is the secret buried inside all of us waiting to rise to the surface when we need it most. It is a gift from the Divine. Chuck's four years of spiritual training on the island teach him the art of giving up the illusion of control and opening himself to the mysteries of the present moment. By the end he no longer needs to know exactly what the future will look like. He turns his back on time and finds that wisdom and love are just down the road (intense action sequences, some disturbing images).

God's Army is an engaging film about a young group of Mormon missionaries trying to bring in a harvest for the Lord in Los Angeles. Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. But given the secretive nature of this Utah-based religion, this is the closest many of us will come to a behind-the-scenes look at its people, beliefs and practices. Writer and director Richard Dutcher focuses on the relationship between a new recruit and a veteran elder. Through them we learn about the Mormon Bible, the prophet Joseph Smith, prayer, baptism, healing and the anointing of the dying with oil (Zion/Excel — PG).


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February issue


Embracing diversity