The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

Adam & Eve's First Sunset: God's New Day
by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso will give parents a chance to talk with children about fear of the dark and other anxieties brought on by the terrifying realities of the post- 9/11 world. Sasso, an award-wining children's author, and illustrator Joani Keller Rothenberg offer enchanting and remarkably astute story about the importance of faith in God and the power of hope in the face of the unknown.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve have never experienced the setting of the sun. As it begins to sink, he offers to have it rest on his shoulders. Eve wants to comfort it with a song. When they realize that the sun isn't responding, they command it to obey them. They grow fearful, and they accuse each other of causing the sun to go away. Adam and Eve lament what the loss of light could mean for the plants and the animals. They then create a prayer: "God Creator of the Great Light, do not let your world grow dark. Help us bring back the sun. Make morning again." Afterward, they make a fire and eventually fall asleep next to each other. In the morning, Adam and Eve awake and rejoice in the reappearance of the light "wrapped around them like a robe of gold." Now they bless the sun and realize they can bless the night as well.

We all need to believe in a new day and God's continuing blessings. Now more than ever, young and old need to see the divine in the dark. Adam & Eve's First Sunset lifts our spirit with the message that all is well and in God's hands (Jewish Lights, 2003; 800-962-4544).

Girl with a Pearl Earring
centers on the imagined relationship of 17th century still-life painter Jan Vermeer and the young girl in this famous work of art. This exquisite film, directed by Peter Webber, is based on a best-selling novel by Tracy Chevalier. Scarlett Johansson plays Griet, a teenager who lives with her poor, Protestant parents in Delft, Holland, in 1665. Her father, a blind tile-maker, is close to his daughter and depends on her to describe what she sees out in the world. By luck, Griet gets a job as a maid in the house of the famous painter (Colin Firth). Her quiet and thoughtful way of doing things wins his respect.

Intuiting that this outsider is the one person in the household capable of truly understanding his paintings, he teaches her how to mix his paint and explains to her the function of his camera obscura, a device to create an accurate reproduction of a panoramic exterior or interior. But tensions within this family escalate when his mother-in-law and wife become jealous of the attention given to Griet.

Girl with a Pearl Earring moves very slowly, and this is to its advantage, drawing us into another time when things were not so rushed. Cinematographer Eduardo Serra created a visually sumptuous drama that brilliantly conveys the importance of light in Vermeer's world. The musical score by Alexandre Desplat adds even more luster to this exceptionally fine film (Lion's Gate Films, PG-13 — some sexual content).


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