The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

Wayfaring: A Gospel Journey into Life
by Margaret Silf invites readers to become pilgrims on the road of life. She uses Ignatian exercises as a framework for getting at the major themes of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Silf sees Jesus as the "First Cell" of God's kingdom on earth. He then "divided" himself by giving all he had to a small band of disciples: "We could even call this first group of friends a 'starter kit' for the kingdom, as a lump of leavened dough starts the next loaf going." Whether writing about the temptations of Jesus, the call of the disciples, or the Last Supper, Silf draws us into the heart of the Gospels and the imperative that we see ourselves in these accounts. We especially like her treatment of the story of the Magi: "The visitors go to see this thing that had come to pass. They go to where Christ is being born. For us, this might be a call to become aware of the very many ways in which God is coming to birth in the events and the people of our planet, whether or not we--or they--happen to think they are 'religious.' " Again and again, the author makes it clear that God is becoming incarnate in our life stories (Doubleday).

The Emperor's Club
is based on Ethan Canin's short story The Palace Thief. William Hundert (Kevin Kline) has taught Classics at St. Benedict's Academy for Boys for many years. He has dedicated every moment of his life to it. But a new student, Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsh), the son of a West Virginia senator, challenges his authority in the classroom and outside. He ridicules Hundert's seriousness over his subject and instigates many pranks on campus. The professor believes character shapes fate. In this richly satisfying drama, Hundert is a moral man who loses his way when he tries to take responsibility for the direction of Sedgewick's life. Ego sometimes sabotages our highest ethical ideals. Kline puts in a masterful performance as the flawed teacher who suffers for doing the right thing in the wrong way. This film beautifully conveys the slippery slope of ethical dishonesty and the disregard for the old virtues in the corridors of the rich and the powerful (Universal Pictures, PG-13--some sexual content).

The Son's Room
is a compelling story about the grief process. Giovanni is a psychoanalyst who lives with his wife and daughter in an Italian seaside city. When his son dies in a diving accident, the family plunges into a miasma of grief. The mother howls out her agony in the bedroom; the daughter, a basketball player, gets into a scuffle on court; and Giovanni becomes silent. He's plagued with regret that he didn't say no to a client who called him on the day he had set aside for time with his son. In a series of small incidents, the psychoanalyst tries to alleviate his pain. In the touching closing scenes, the family meets the girl their son met at summer camp. Through her, they feel linked to him and his emotions near the end of his life (Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, R--language).


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February issue


Embracing diversity