The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


"Living Peace" and "The Interpreter"


Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action by John Dear is a richly developed salute to peacemaking by someone who really walks his talk. A Jesuit priest and director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest and oldest interfaith peace organization in the U.S., Dear has been on the front lines of nonviolent civil disobedience for two decades. Here he calls us to become peacemakers “within our own broken hearts and broken families, in our bloody city streets and corrupt government offices, in the war zones and refugee camps.” He covers ways to nurture peace in our hearts through solitude, silence, listening, letting go and intimate prayer. He also makes clear the high cost of speaking the truth, resisting evil, disarming the world and working for justice. Basing his points squarely on the gospel, Dear challenges us to take seriously Jesus’ call to love our enemies, forgive 70 times seven and practice reconciliation. He also pays tribute to the great peacemakers who have gone before us, including St. Francis, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and Dorothy Day (Image/Doubleday).


The Interpreter, a thriller revolving around events at the U.N., shows director Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Absence of Malice) at the peak of his form.

Most of the Western world continues to turn away from the problems in Africa, including tribal warfare, genocide and poverty. So it’s laudable when a film boldly sets out to explore the roots of these seemingly intractable problems.

Academy Award-winner Nicole Kidman plays U.N. translator Silvia Broome, who grew up in Southern Africa. She overhears through the microphones a whispered voice mentioning a plan to assassinate Dr. Zuwanie, the leader of Matobo (a fictional African country.

Academy Award-winner Sean Penn is Secret Service agent Tobin Keller, who is assigned to protect Zuwanie, an unpopular leader linked to mass murders. He suspects that Silvia is lying about hearing the assassination threat, or perhaps involved in the plot, and grills her unmercifully. But as the investigation unfolds, Tobin’s view of her changes.

Later Silvia tells him about an African ritual for a community’s treatment of killers. The guilty person is taken out in a boat and thrown into the lake; the community can send someone out to save him or they can let him drown. Ancestral wisdom says the only way to end grief is to save a life. As Silvia puts it, “Vengeance is a lazy form of grief.” It is this kind of spiritual dialogue that makes The Interpreter stand head and shoulders above other Hollywood fare. This movie salutes openness and respect for life as antidotes to the use of violence to deal with the uncertainty and insecurity of our times (Universal Pictures—PG-13, violence, some sexual congent, brief strong language).


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February issue


Embracing diversity