The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


September 1998 Books/Movies/TV/Videos

Sacred Journeys in a Modern World (Simon & Schuster) by Roger Housden tutors us in ways to open heart, mind, body and soul to the enchantments and rigors of pilgrimage. His journeys take him to St. Catherine's monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and to the Turkish city where the Sufi poet Rumi is buried.

Family Puzzles: A Private Life Made Public (Innisfree Press) by Linda Weltner is a collection of essays organized around her roles as daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother and grandmother. Weltner reveals how relationships become a major resource in our personal and spiritual development.

Saving Private Ryan (Dreamworks, R-intense and realistic war violence, language) is one of the best films of the year with its portrait of some survivors of the World War II D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach who are sent on a mission of mercy. In war's desperate setting, kindness is not only a habit of the heart but the only saving grace. All that really matters in the destructive rapacity of combat are small acts of decency. Director Steven Spielberg captures these emblematic moments as brilliant lights in the savage darkness of destruction and death.

The Parent Trap (Walt Disney, PG) is a thoroughly enjoyable remake of the 1961 hit comedy that starred English actress Hayley Mills. Here Lindsay Lohan takes that role, playing 11-year-old twins separated at birth who meet at a summer camp and cook up a scheme to reunite their parents. The film celebrates the ideal of family ties as a pre-eminent virtue of our times.

P.O.V.: Family Name (PBS--Sept. 15, 10-11 p.m. EDT) is an award-winning documentary by Macky Alston who as a child in North Carolina never gave much thought to the fact that many of his black classmates had the same last name. As a young man he decided to find out why. The film chronicles the surprising twists and turns of his search for the descendants of the slaves and slave owners who lived on the plantations once owned by his family.

Mrs. Dalloway (GMB, PG-13) is an exquisite screen adaptation of Virginia Woolf's classic novel. It covers one June day in 1923 in London in the life of an emotionally cool, upper-class woman (Vanessa Redgrave.) The drama conveys the spiritual message that despite social and psychological differences, we are all connected.

The Winter Guest (New Line, R--language, brief sexuality) is a quiet, quirky and luminous film about four sets of characters in a Scottish seaside town. Nothing much happens except the miracle of human nurturing as one soul looks after another in the name of love or friendship.


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