The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred
by Brennan Manning, author of the best selling The Ragamuffin Gospel, argues that self-hatred is the chief spiritual problem for Christians. This toxic hazard, which derives from ideas of God as an angry lawgiver who is rigorous in the punishment of sins, usually includes unhealthy guilt, shame, remorse and moral perfectionism. As a result, many believers feel like losers. Contrasting all this is Jesus' ardent trust in the wonderful and unending love of God. A close look at the parables reveals repeated stories of deliverance based on divine mercy. In his healing ministry, Jesus demonstrated hospitality to the untouchables of society. Two other antidotes to self-hatred are liberating prayer and compassionate service of others. Manning concludes: "The Christian's warmth and congeniality, nonjudgmental attitude and welcoming love may well be the catalyst allowing the healing power of Jesus to become operative in the life of an alienated, forlorn brother or sister" (HarperSanFrancisco).

directed by Andrew Davis, is based on the 1999 Newbery Award-winning book of the same title by Louis Sachar, which revolves around Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf), a kid who always seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Unjustly accused of stealing sneakers from a homeless shelter, Stanley is sent to a camp in the Texas desert where the boys dig holes 5-foot deep and wide as a character-building exercise. Fortunately, he makes friends with Zero (Khleo Thomas), the fastest digger in the group. Things begin to change for Stanley when he finds a gold tube with the initials KB on it. Could it have belonged to Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette), a Texas teacher who turned outlaw and buried her loot in the area? Stanley starts out thinking that he is cursed and winds up realizing that he's actually blessed. His journey is filled with coincidences and hints of grace that shower down upon him and Zero at a place called God's Thumb. Holes, a hoot from start to finish, is a dramatically inventive and emotionally satisfying children's film (Walt Disney Pictures, PG).

Rabbit-Proof Fence
, directed by Phillip Noyce, is based on the true story of three Aboriginal girls, aged 14, 10 and 8, who are taken from their mothers by the Australian authorities and sent to a boarding school. The goal is to have the children forget their language and customs and become completely assimilated into white culture. Molly, the eldest, convinces the other two that they can make it back home on foot — 1,200 miles away. They follow the fence that bisects Australia north-to-south that is designed to keep rabbits out of farming land. They know it runs through their homeland. During their arduous trek through the rugged countryside, the girls rely upon the kindness of strangers and Molly's incredible determination. This Australian film is a wonderful spiritual adventure story (Miramax, PG).


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February issue


Embracing diversity