The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

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

Practicing Your Path: A Book of Retreats for an Intentional Life
by Holly Whitcomb is designed for small groups. Each of the seven retreats focuses on a practice in classical Christian spirituality: the Sabbath, hospitality, prayer and action (intercession), fasting, giving back to God, purpose and vocation, and accountability. Elements covered in the one-day plans include meditations, suggestions for art and ritual, discussion questions, journaling and options for longer retreats.

Whitcomb, a United Church of Christ pastor, believes retreats are essential to the deepening of Christian faith. The one that spoke to us most forcefully was on fasting. Although Americans comprise slightly less than 5 percent of the world's population, we create and consume nearly 30 percent of the gross world product. It's appropriate for Christians to look at their overattachment to things. As Whitcomb points out, the act of self-emptying leaves more room for God (Inisfree Press).

Changing Lanes
is about two angry men whose lives intersect in a car accident in Manhattan. Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson), an insurance agent and recovering alcoholic, is on his way to court in a last-ditch attempt to keep his family together. Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) is a Wall Street lawyer due in court for a probate case involving a $100 million trust. Trying to brush off Gipson, Banek flees the scene, leaving a file behind. Gipson is 20 minutes late to his hearing and is distressed to learn that the judge gave his wife permission to move to Oregon with their two sons. In anger, he decides to use the file as leverage against Banek. Soon the men are engaged in a vengeful battle.

The twists and turns in this ethically charged drama are intensified because they take place on Good Friday. Two crucial scenes include church symbols. Banek confronts a priest about the meaning of the chaos in his life. And Gipson sees a picture of Jesus in a house he wants to buy. When we experience obstacles or personal disasters, it can go either way. We can turn bitter and cynical or we can deepen our humanity and enlarge our souls. Changing Lanes depicts the second response. It shows that a place of vulnerability can be a reset button propelling us to change our way of living and become a new person (Paramount, R — language).

No Man's Land won the Academy Award
this year for the best foreign language film. It's set during the Bosnian War in 1993 and revolves around two sworn enemies who are thrown together by chance in a bunker between the two forces. Another Bosnian awakens and finds himself lying on top of a land mine. If he tries to get up, it will detonate. Writer and director Danis Tanovic has made a vivid and unforgettable film about the insanity of war and the dreadful things it can do those who drench themselves in hate and violence (United Artists, R — violence, language).


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