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Dorothee Soelle: Essential Writings and The Devil Wears Prada

B O O K

Dorothee Soelle: Essential Writings, edited by Dianne L. Oliver, is a robust collection of writings by the German theologian who came of age during the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II and taught at Union Seminary, New York City, from 1975 to 1987. Soelle, who died in 2003, embraced mysticism and saw justice and peacemaking as its natural expressions in a world reeling from consumerism, economic inequities, ecological trauma and global chaos. Oliver noted: “Like many others whose lives of the spirit are inspirational, Soelle seemed to have encountered and lived out God in ways that questioned much of what we accept as ‘given’ about our world. Her critiques of capitalism, consumerism, nuclear arms buildup, Vietnam and Christian theology that created the space for Auschwitz were all scathing.”

This book is divided into three sections: A Different Experience (Power and Mysticism); A Different Journey (Suffering and Resistance); and A Different Language (Poetry and Prayer). Soelle always put the accent on experience. For example, she finds the question, “Do you believe in God?” to be superficial and off the mark. A more appropriate query would be “Do you live out God?” In another essay, the liberation theologian commends Judaism for the idea of human beings as the image of God, which she takes to mean we can act like God: “Just as God made clothes for Adam and Eve, we can clothe the naked. Just as God fed Elijah through a raven, so to we are to feed the hungry” (Orbis Books).

M O V I E

The Devil Wears Prada, a fascinating glimpse into the world of high fashion, is also a spiritually edifying depiction of a young woman’s initiation into the work arena where difficult ethical choices must be made. Directed by David Frankel, the film is based on a best-selling novel by Lauren Weisberger, who worked as an assistant at Vogue.

Andy (Anne Hathaway), a journalism graduate with both brains and a work ethic, gets a job as assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), editor of Runway magazine and the most powerful woman in the fashion world. She soon finds herself at Miranda’s beck-and-call. She keeps telling herself that this job will lead to a better one in publishing if she can only stick it out. Her boyfriend (Adrian Grenier) can’t believe how hard she is working and is stunned when she actually enjoys her trendy new wardrobe. Eventually, Andy comes face-to-face with the transformations that are taking place within her as a result of her job. It’s not a pretty picture.

The Devil Wears Prada is filled with wonderful performances. Streep’s Miranda is an accomplished woman and a demanding boss, but no monster. We can empathize with Hathaway’s Andy every step of the way. It’s good to see a movie that shows how our character is shaped by daily ethical choices that affect all those nearest and dearest to us (Twentieth Century Fox, PG-13—some sensuality).


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