The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

Martin Luther
by Martin Marty is a rounded and revealing biography of the life and work of the religious reformer who changed Christianity with his 95 Theses. Marty, the much-quoted, honored and eclectic Lutheran historian points out that Luther was a man of extremes: "He did not favor middle-ground or gray areas but instead loved paradox and contradiction. The stormy contender was not the kind of person who could say to an opponent, 'Perhaps you have a point.' He had the courage to stare popes and emperors in the face, but even after his affirmation of faith, he often lived with dread. A man of passions given to verbal violence, he could also be tender, compassionate, and lyrical in his writings. A maker of enemies, he also attracted friends and loyalists. A man of the people, he was unawed by popes but often to awed by princes. Zealous for God, he developed a theology that honored the secular realms of life."

Marty depicts Luther as a struggler with God who spent his days in fear of divine wrath, seeing himself as a terrible sinner. This, of course, made his appreciation of grace more heartfelt. In four chapters Marty has much to say about Luther's views of theology, the Bible, music, marriage and vocation. The author portrays the man whole with acknowledgement of his dastardly response to the peasant revolt and his rampant anti-Semitism (Penguin Lives Series/Viking).

Shrek 2 At the end of the wild and wonderful film Shrek (2001), we were left wondering whether the green ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Meyers) and his new bride Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) would live happily ever after. It's good to be back in their company. The opening scenes of Shrek 2 show them frolicking on their honeymoon. But when they return home to the swamp, they discover that Donkey (Eddie Murphy) hasn't quite gotten the message that his buddy is now married and things have changed. Soon the three head off to a kingdom called Far Far Away where Fiona's parents are throwing a fancy ball in their honor. But things don't turn out as expected: King Herald (John Cleese), Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) and most of their subjects are stunned when they see Fiona and her new husband.

Directors Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon keep the story humming along nicely without losing the central point that Shrek and Fiona's happiness has nothing to do with external beauty and everything to do with their basic love for each other and their delight in being in their own skin. Once again, Shrek's good heart triumphs, even bringing tears to the eyes of Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), our favorite new character. The upbeat musical numbers at the end will leave you with the distinct impression that Shrek and Fiona will definitely live happily ever after on their own admirable terms (Dreamworks, PG).


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