The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

Soul Brothers
by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico, uses paintings by Louis Glanzman as the starting points for lively meditations on 12 men in the Bible.

Abraham is a model of surrender, trust and letting go while Moses faces many challenges in the wilderness as he learns how to really see. Isaiah shows us what holiness is all about as he experiences the blessings and burdens of being a prophet. John the Baptist sees things very clearly yet doesn't get a big head over his role in "the great drama of salvation." Peter bungles along the way but is still found to be a loyal disciple, and Paul wrestles with the contradictions that are part and parcel of his ministry. John the Evangelizer is the archetype of the mystic lover who always has to be on guard against spiritual grandiosity. Rohr saves the best for last in his piece on Jesus, the Human One.

Rohr is fascinated with the ways these courageous individuals struggle with their faith and callings. He makes the point that "biblical holiness has to do with God's call, grace and faithfulness to us--and not the faithfulness of our response" (Orbis Books).

Inscribing the Text edited by Anna Carter Florence contains 24 sermons and prayers by Walter Brueggemann, professor of Old Testament at Columbia Seminary, Decatur, Ga. We were most impressed with "On Signal: Breaking the Vicious Cycles" in which he explains the celebration of Jubilee as an act of justice that breaks the spiral of accumulation, acquisition, greed and monopoly. Brueggemann is especially strong on Old Testament texts. We also liked his sermons on mercy, abundance, Pentecost and bragging about the right stuff. The prayers here, like the ones in his previous book Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth, are stirring and creative (Fortress Press).

Pilgrimages of Europe: Iona
follows a group of modern-day pilgrims during a one-week retreat on this rocky, wind-swept island off the western coast of Scotland where Columba, an Irish monk, came in the sixth century to share the light of the Christian gospel. Protestants, Catholics and seekers from all over the world stay at the abbey for a program of silence, study and prayer. They take a walking tour of the island, singing hymns along the way. When they reach the sea, they are asked to pick up a stone, to think about a burden they are carrying and then to imagine that burden being released as they throw the stone into the water. On the last day, the pilgrims join in the Lord's Supper.

This 30-minute documentary nicely conveys the spirit of Iona and its soothing and spiritually satisfying impact on the pilgrims. Croagh Patrick (Ireland), Medjugorje (Bosnia), Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Fatima (Portugal) and Lourdes (France) are some of the other pilgrimage sites featured in this 12-part series (Janson Media).


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