The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


April 1999 Books/Movies/TV/Video

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (Pantheon) by Anne Lamott vividly conveys the vigor and the rigors of her unusual journey of faith as a Christian convert. After years of alcohol and drug abuse, she found a safe haven in a working-class Presbyterian church in California. This spiffy spiritual memoir is packed with memorable one-liners ("Courage is fear that has said its prayers") and heartfelt stories about forgiveness, grace, silence and love.

The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient Teaching in the Ways of Relationships (William Morrow) by Sobonfu Some is a cross-cultural masterpiece containing fresh and eminently practical ideas about restoring meaning and purpose to community, marriage and family. Sobonfu Some was born and raised in Dano, Burkina Faso, a West African village of 200 people. She demonstrates the relevance of indigenous ideas and practices to modern problems with wise commentary on the link between sex and spirit and the role of ancestors and friends in sustaining marriage.


The Deep End of the Ocean (Columbia Pictures, PG-13 — language, thematic elements) is based on Jacquelyn Mitchard's popular 1996 novel about the devastating effects upon a family of the mysterious vanishing of their 3-year-old son. Michelle Pfeiffer gives a riveting performance as the boy's mother who is twisted with anguish and guilt. When the missing son returns nine years later, this family is forced to look afresh at the ties that bind them together.


Great Composers (PBS, April 14, 21 and 28, 9-11 p.m. ET) is a three-part series of biographical musical documentaries narrated by Kenneth Branagh. The first program examines the myths and truths of the legends about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then examines Ludwig van Beethoven's dramatic life story, focusing on new information gained from DNA tests about his many physical ailments. The second show delves into the connections between Richard Wagner's spiritual vision and his art. It also focuses upon Gustav Mahler's symphonies and how they reflect some of his personal struggles. The final program probes the inspirational nature of the music of Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky by showing how it became a vehicle for expressing his emotions. It also looks at the operas of Giacomo Puccini, revealing how their stories were derived from true-life situations.


Beyond Silence (Miramax, PG-13 — sexuality) is an extraordinary German film that tutors us in the art of emotional literacy. Lara, an 8-year-old who can hear, serves as an interpreter for her deaf parents who use sign language with each other. Her life is opened up when she learns to play the clarinet. Listening for the music inside herself has consequences, and the drama explores them with intensity.


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Women and the Reformation: Then & Now