The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

For full reviews, visit the Brussats' Web site, Spiritual Rx.

Stretching Lessons: The Daring that Starts Within
by Sue Bender, now available in paperback, is a fine example of an individual's attempt at everyday spirituality. The author of the best-selling Plain and Simple is now 66 and trying, at last, to get in touch with her body. Although her hip acts up and she has trouble with her Achilles tendon, her stretch class yields results. She measures the rhythm of her days and realizes she moves in two ways: "full speed ahead and collapse." Something inside her wants desperately to slow down but can't.

Being a speedy person is usually praised today, but spiritually speaking, slow is beautiful. A friend tells Bender to go fishing. Instead she spends a month at an artist's colony where her sense of play is challenged by a sign in the mountains: YIELD TO WHIM. At one point, Bender pinpoints the target of her quest: "coming home to a deeper place inside ourselves."

If you share this desire for silence, idleness and the delicious pleasure of goose bumps, you'll find this little book brimming over with good things (HarperSanFrancisco).

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
is a highly recommended family film set in the American Old West where wild horses once ran free across the land. This animated movie beautifully melds music, images of the frontier and the movements of a stallion named Spirit (voiced by Matt Damon) whose yearning for freedom is tested again and again.

Spirit is born in the wild and grows up to be a frisky explorer. As a mustang and leader of the Cimarron herd, he loves to race with an eagle flying gracefully overhead. His first encounter with humans leads to confinement in a fort. He escapes with Little Creek, a Lakota Indian. Rain, this resourceful American Indian's pinto horse, teaches Spirit some manners.

Spirit will arouse in youth a keen sense of wonder. They'll come to appreciate the talk of Spirit and others in the herd--a language of whinnies, snorts and snickers. And, finally, they'll marvel at these mystics with tails who are tuned into the subtleties in the world around them (DreamWorks, G).

O Pioneers!
is a screen adaptation of Willa Cather's novel set in Nebraska in the early 1900s. Jessica Lange plays Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her control of his failing farm. She prospers through shrewd management and persistence. She has a reverent relationship with the land.

Filming in Nebraska, producer and director Glenn Jordan makes the prairie an important character in the movie. In one of the most visually spectacular scenes, Catholic men ride out in procession to escort a visiting bishop to the church; it's a welcome today's clerics would certainly appreciate. O Pioneers! in many vivid and affecting ways proclaims the bounty that comes to those who respect nature and nurture it like a child (Republic Pictures, PG).


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