The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

A Forgiving Heart: Prayers for Blessing and Reconciliation
, edited by Lyn Klug, covers a subject that is at the core of Christian teaching, and yet there is no end to our attempts to understand, appreciate and enact it in our lives. First, there is the forgiveness of God, which assures us of our worth and strengthens us to take this practice to heart in our doings. Then there is the forgiveness we extend to others, especially those who have harmed or wronged us in some way. Finally, there is self-forgiveness that enables us to release our guilt and self-perfectionism. No matter how much we practice these three, it never gets any easier to do. As Doris Donnelly writes here: "Forgiveness is and always has been an impractical, illogical, uncommon approach to life: forgiving our enemies, doing good to those who hurt us, repaying evil with kindness. Contrary to myth, forgiveness is not instinctive, and most of the time it is a very difficult and time-consuming enterprise."

Klug organized this fine collection of soulful quotations, prayers and other encouragements for a richer devotional life into nine chapters on abiding in God's love; learning to forgive; forgiving ourselves; loving family and friends; loving our enemies; healing the broken; being the church; living as one nation; and on earth, peace. A leader of retreats on prayer and the editor of two other volumes, she sheds light on the many different aspects of forgiveness. We especially liked the images and sentiments in this Arabic proverb: "Write the wrongs that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble. Let go of all emotions such as resentment and retaliation, which diminish you, and hold onto the emotions such as gratitude and joy, which increase you" (Augsburg Books).

tells the story of a horse-racing legend, a small horse no one thought could be a champion. His triumph is made possible because three men were able to pull themselves up from the bottom and live their dreams. Along the way, this team captured the support of a wide spectrum of American society. It was the Depression, and people wanted to believe in the American dream.

The casting makes all the difference with full and richly developed performances by Jeff Bridges as the gung-ho owner of the horse, Chris Cooper as his soft-spoken trainer, and Tobey Maguire as his tough-luck jockey. Early in the movie, Smith rescues an injured race horse, explaining, "You don't throw a whole life away just cause it's banged up a little." There's something deeply touching in that statement. It reflects a reverence for life that is sorely missed in today's culture, where the poor and down-and-out rarely get a second chance.

Seabiscuit speaks to our hearts with its celebration of underdogs who win back their dignity and have their day in the sun (Universal Pictures, PG-13 — some sexual situations, violent sports-related images).


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February issue


Embracing diversity