The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

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

Growing God: A Guide for Spiritual Gardeners
by Kerry Walters is a salutary meditation upon Jesus' parable of the sower and seeds. The author is the William Bittinger Professor of Philosophy at Gettysburg [Pa.] College. "The secret garden of God's kingdom is within you," he writes. "This is what Jesus tells us in the parable of the sower. Its seeds have already been sown in the depths of the heart. The trick is to allow them to germinate and spring forth."

Walters says the art of growing our humanity is also the challenge of growing God. The first step is listening and remembering who we are.

Another lesson of spiritual gardening is that pruning or cutting back is necessary for growth. Kerry believes the "best fertilizer for Godseed" is trust. It helps us handle droughts or other difficulties that come with overgrowth. He also points out that in this enchanted garden, we aren't on our own. Others are here to help facilitate our development. Growing God is a companion to remind you that inner marvels are as available to you as the ones you see in the garden outside (Paulist Press).

Ice Age
is a funny and cleverly conceived all-digital, animated feature film directed by Chris Wedge, who won an Academy Award for Bunny, a short film. To avoid the dangers of the imminent Ice Age, Earth's menagerie of creatures join together in a pilgrimage south. Some mavericks decide to go their own way. Manfred is a woolly mammoth who prefers solitude to marching with the crowd. Of course, since he needs to learn a lesson, he gets stuck with Sid, a wacky sloth whose family has abandoned him. They make quite an odd couple as they trek across the ice-covered landscape. When the two happen upon Roshan, an abandoned human baby, their maternal instincts come to the fore on a mission to return the child to his tribe.

Ice Age is an entertaining family film with a contemporary moral message: In a dangerous world, looking out for No. 1 just won't cut it. We need to be willing to put ourselves out for others if we're going to survive. And forming alliances with those who are very different from us is not only wise, it's the only way to go in a world that keeps evolving (20th Century Fox, PG).

Life as a House
is a heartfelt drama about the courageous efforts of an alienated man to give birth to himself in the world before he leaves it. When George Monroe (Kevin Kline) learns that he only has a few months to live, he decides to act upon a dream he's had for years — to build a house he has designed. He gets his rebellious teenage son to help, and they achieve a closeness they've never had. The soul-stirring screenplay shows how George's transformation lifts the spirits of those around him in a variety of positive ways. The surprising finale will water the seeds of love, hope, kindness and generosity inside you (New Line Home Video, R — language, sexuality, drug use).


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February issue


Embracing diversity