The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Lord is My Shepherd and Water


The Lord Is My Shepherd: Divine Consolation in Times of Abandonment is an inspirational and cogent paperback by Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff. He deciphers the many meanings of Psalm 23. In three sections—Praying Amid Contradictions, The Song of the Shepherd and The Song of the Host—Boff brings together human helplessness and divine grace. We receive solace on the perilous journey through life by knowing that God is with us.

Boff describes this psalm as a spiritual X-ray—it zeroes in on human fears and the yearning for holy protection: “Fear reveals the human condition, which is made of fears and hopes, of helplessness and the search for consolation. We fail to realize that we are not masters of our destiny. We are at the mercy of forces and situations beyond our control. ... We are called to trust in a Greater One, who is infinitely good, who knows us by name, who knows the secrets of our hearts, and who is the true master of our life’s fate.”

Best of all, this Brazilian theologian always gives equal emphasis in his discussions to humans, nature and other living beings. Boff reverences the Earth and wants us to stop our pillaging, our assault on ecosystems and our indifference to animal life. He also pleads for us to let the Earth rest and be refreshed. Christians are called to care as much for polluted streams and savaged rain forests as for our own families. In The Lord Is My Shepherd, Boff mines the many meanings in this famous psalm and opens our eyes to the challenges we face as the Earth’s caretakers (Orbis Books).


Water is the third in a trilogy of Indian films written and directed by Deepa Mehta (the first were Fire and Earth). This incredibly moving drama is set in India in 1938. Chuyia is an adorable 8-year-old who has just been widowed. Her marriage was arranged by her family for financial reasons. Hindu laws written centuries ago state that widows must leave society, so her parents take her to a decrepit ashram where widows of all ages live. There Chuyia sleeps on a thin mat in a room with older and infirm widows whose lonely lives have been spent in renunciation. They sing hymns every day and beg for money. People avoid them like the plague. Many Hindus believe that if they bump into a widow they will be polluted and must do rituals of purification.

Kalyana, a beautiful young widow, was forced into prostitution by the head of the ashram. The money she brings in keeps the place afloat. Through Chuyia, Kalyana meets Narayan, a law student who is a believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign. Gandhi has begun to speak out against the treatment of widows and other outcasts, the one beacon of hope in the film.

Water depicts the damage that can be done with religious rules. The director stated: “Traditions shouldn’t be that rigid. They should flow like the replenishing kind of water” (Fox Searchlight Pictures, PG—13 sexual situations, brief drug use).


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