The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


"The Importance of Being Foolish" and "Saraband"


The Importance of Being Foolish: How to Think Like Jesus by Brennan Manning challenges us to reframe our views on how to practice the Way. The author, an ex-Franciscan priest, spent two years with a Christian community called the Little Brothers of Jesus who live among the poor and work as manual laborers. This experience convinced him that "the compulsion of love" is far more important than the values that the world holds as significant: namely pleasure, security and power. Our yearning for security is mainly a matter of emotional programming. We convince ourselves that our needs must be satisfied or else we will feel insecure. When things don't turn out as we expect, we become frustrated, angry, bitter, anxious and resentful.

Soren Kierkegaard, the father of Christian existentialism, wrote about two types of believers: those who imitate Jesus Christ and those who are content just to admire him. Manning wants us to be the former. This will require walking in Jesus' path of foolishnes, sputting others first, forgiving again and again, and living by love. Francis of Assisi was called by his contemporaries "the most perfect image of Christ that ever was." Sadly, all too often we have put both Jesus and St. Francis on pedestals instead of walking in their shoes (HarperSanFrancisco).


Saraband is the film that 85-year-old Ingmar Bergman has said will be his last. This Swedish film writer and director has made some 40 works including such classics as Wild Strawberries, The Magic Flute, The Silence, Cries and Whispers and Autumn Sonata. He was awarded three Oscars for best foreign-language film: The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly and Fanny and Alexander. This film, which was shot for television in high-definition video, is a touching and emotionally resonant sequel to the 1973 film Scenes from a Marriage.

After not seeing him for 30 years, Marianne (Liv Ullmann) decides to visit her ex-husband, Johann (Erland Josephson), who lives in a large, secluded house by himself. He isn't happy with her surprise visit. Johann's son Henrik, from a previous marriage, lives nearby with his 19-year-old daughter, Karin. He is a musician who is teaching her cello and has high hopes that she will enter the conservatory. Both of them are still mourning the loss of Anna, his wife and her mother, who died of cancer two years ago.

Marianne meets Henrik in a nearby church where he is playing the organ. He talks freely about his hatred for his father who seems to have nothing but contempt for him. After he leaves Marianne says a silent prayer in front of an altar. In the closing scenes of the film, father and daughter, and ex-husband and wife have meaningful encounters with each other (Sony Pictures Classics, R — brief nudity, language, a violent image).


Print subscribers and supporting Web members may comment.

Log in or Subscribe to comment.

text size:

this page: email | print

March issue

MARCH issue:

All are welcome