The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Books, Movies, Videos

Building Self-Esteem: The Christian Dimension by Anselm Gruen presents a Christian perspective on sustaining self-esteem. The author notes: "Self-respect is a religious question. Faith can show us who we actually are and where we obtain our true value." In the Gospels, people who feel useless, inept and powerless are often recipients of Jesus' healing ministry. Examples include Zacchaeus, the paralyzed man and the man with the shriveled hand. Jesus challenges them to accept their uniqueness as sons of God. This thought-provoking paperback is a perfect study project for small Christian groups (Crossroad).

Pay It Forward: Talk to youth today and you'll find that many of them aren't very optimistic about the future. Feeling hemmed in by the world's troubles--homelessness, environmental degradation, violence--they yearn for a reason to hope. This inspiring film, based on a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde, focuses on Trevor (Haley Joel Osment), an 11-year-old who lives in Las Vegas with his working-class mother (Helen Hunt), a recovering alcoholic. The boy's spirits are lifted when his new social studies teacher (Kevin Spacey) gives the class an assignment: "Think of a way to change our world and put it into action." Trevor decides he will do a good deed for three people, something they can't do for themselves, and then ask them each to "pay it forward" to three more.

This is the most explicitly moral film of the year and deserves a wide audience. Although Trevor's project isn't presented as growing out of a religious background, Christians will see its similarity to the disciples' efforts to put into effect Jesus' exhortation to practice love and compassion. Trevor and those he touches through his actions do bring positive change into the world. Watching these characters, keep in mind the important teachings you have learned about the nature of love, service, kindness and hope. For our Values & Visions discussion guide to the film, visit www.spiritualrx.com(Warner Bros., PG-13 — language, brief violence, sexual situation).

Joseph: King of Dreams is a made-for-video animated release from the creators of The Prince of Egypt. Joseph is the "miracle child" of his proud parents, Jacob and Rachel. Joseph, who has the gift of interpreting dreams, is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. In Egypt, Joseph must be resourceful as he moves from being a slave to a household servant. After he reads a dream that proves important to the kingdom's future, he is promoted to a position of power. Eventually Joseph must learn about the importance of forgiveness when he meets his brothers again. This fine 75-minute production features five songs, including two that convey spiritually charged messages about generosity and resting in the mystery of God's grace (DreamWorks, G).


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