The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month


Loaves, Fishes, and Leftovers: Sharing Faith’s Deep Questions by Ted Loder is an unusual and inspiring collection of dialogue sermons. The author, longtime pastor of First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, met with Christians gathered in a home to discuss subjects of deep interest. One of the many things we appreciate about his slant on Christian living is his deep respect for mystery: “When we can get past our addictions to certainty and our need for indisputable proof, and accept that mystery, and ergo uncertainty, is at the heart of human existence, we can live with more freedom and trust.”As could be expected, there are a lot of questions about sin, evil and the difficult choices we must all make. Loder emphasizes the Christian view of free will and our options to harm others and make terrible mistakes. He laments the sin of genocide of the Indian people in the U.S., slavery and the pollution of the environment. Then, with poetic clarity, he explores our complicity in these dehumanizing events, as well as the Holocaust and Hiroshima. But these aren’t the last word—there are resurrections afoot, and we must also take the time to focus on them. Loder challenges Christians to be “ministers of reconciliation,” who are willing to follow the lure of justice, peace and inclusion “as outcomes of the way God works in the world” (Augsburg, 2005; www.augsburgfortress.org).


March of the Penguins is an extraordinary documentary filmed in Antartica. Every year the Emperor penguins of Antartica leave the sea and march overland to their breeding grounds, walking in single file, looking like pilgrims on a holy trek. The journey is often gruesome, with heavy winds and blinding snow. Luckily, they have bulked up with food for the previous three months. The filmmakers follow them, capturing their courting dances, mating rituals and ways of raising the young. Care of each couple’s single egg is turned over to the male, while the females go back to the sea for food. In the face of incredible winter storms with 100 mph winds and temperatures of 85 below zero, the males huddle in large groups to keep warm. Later, the females take over care of the young, while the males look for food. When a father returns, the young one must signal him with a sound and identify him correctly from all the rest. The struggle for survival continues on the breeding ground until the youngsters are ready to head toward the water on their own. Watching them “take the plunge” is gratifying for it signals the end of one cycle and the start of another.

Thanks to the creativity of director Luc Jacquet, the cinematography of Laurent Chalet and Jerome Maison, and the music of Alex Wurman, our pilgrimage with these black-and-white animals is a magical experience filled with many moments of wonder and delight (Warner Independent Pictures—G; www.marchofthepenguins.com).


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