The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month: Confronted by God and Lassie


Confronted by God: The Essential Verna Dozier, eds. Cynthia L. Shattuck and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, honors the African American Christian educator drawing from interviews, oral histories and other sources.

After 35 years teaching English literature and serving as an administrator in the Washington, D.C., schools, Dozier began working with the Alban Institute, Herndon, Va., an independent organization with a religious mission: serving congregations and their leaders through publishing, consulting, education, research, donations and grant-funded programs. There she gained recognition as a workshop leader and advocate for an increased role for laity in Christian congregations. “There are no second-class citizens in the household of God,” she wrote.

This collection of her writings reveals her talents as a Bible teacher, a prophet speaking out for social justice and a lay theologian who has great respect for ambiguity in our age of religious pluralism. Dozier presents thought-provoking commentary on the church as “the People of God,” the need for socially conscious believers to attack systemic evils in society, the many ways in which the Bible is misused, the engaging mystery of the Trinity and the role of the saints in the modern world (Seabury Books).


Lassie is one of the most beloved dog-story franchises ever with 11 movies and 691 half-hour TV episodes to her credit. Eric Knight wrote Lassie Come Home in 1940, and it provided the story for the 1943 film starring Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor. Charles Sturridge (Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Handful of Dust) directs this exquisite production that was shot on locations in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland.

Just before the outbreak of World War II, the Duke of Rudling (Peter O’Toole) is leading a fox hunt that ends up in a small mining town. Nine-year-old Joe (Jonathan Mason) lives there with his impoverished parents, Sam (John Lynch), a miner, and his wife Sarah (Samantha Morton). When the duke’s granddaughter, Cilla (Hester Odgers), sees Joe’s dog, Lassie, she immediately falls in love with her. The duke wants to breed the animal with his champion collie. Joe’s parents turn down his offer to buy Lassie, but when the mine is closed they need the money to survive.

The boy is heartbroken, and Lassie misses him just as much. She escapes to return to him several times. Then the duke decides to move his household to his estate in Scotland. Once again, Lassie escapes, but this time she must go on a 500-mile journey to get home. Her adventures include encounters with an angry truck driver, a farmer with a gun protecting his chickens, some Loch Ness monster hunters, two Glasgow dogcatchers and a friendly traveling puppeteer.

This film’s conclusion prompts us to ask what would the world be like without dogs. A much diminished place, that’s for sure (Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn—not rated).


Print subscribers and supporting Web members may comment.

Log in or Subscribe to comment.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity