The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


May 1999 Books/Movies/TV/Videos

Protestant Spiritual Exercises: Theology, History and Practice (Morehouse) by Joseph D. Driskill explains five theological affirmations that undergird Protestantism. He then shows how Christian faith can be deepened and enriched by spiritual exercises. Driskill presents eight practices emanating from Luther, Calvin and other reformers, including the Prayer of Examen, the Rule of Life and the four-Stranded Garland. This excellent volume is heaven-sent for adult education classes interested in spirituality.

Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest (Bantam) by Wayne Muller uses resources from all the world's religions to delineate "a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity." He challenges us to take a Sabbath day of rest, to set aside a Sabbath afternoon for silence and to create Sabbath moments in our hectic weekly schedules.

Three Seasons (October Films, not yet rated) is far and away the most breathtaking, exotic and compelling film of 1999. Director Tony Bui uses the stories of a young woman who sells white lotuses, a cycle driver and a boy who hawks trinkets to convey the complexities of modern-day Vietnam. Three Seasons is a cross-cultural masterpiece that shines with incredible images and a keen sense of place.

The Winslow Boy (Sony Pictures Classics, G) is a tour de force treatment of British dramatist Terence Rattigan's play based on the real-life story of a young naval cadet who is accused of stealing a five shilling postal order in 1910. This riveting drama explores the meaning of truth-telling, family honor and institutional integrity. David Mamet, the director, has again fashioned an ethically charged film.

Joan of Arc (CBS, May 16 & 18, 9-11 p.m. ET each night) is a four-hour miniseries starring Leelee Sobieski in the triumphant, yet tragic, true story of a French peasant girl whose intense faith takes her to military command, martyrdom and-some 500 years after her death-sainthood. In the 1400s, Joan experiences divine visions and voices and is compelled to help unite France under Dauphin Charles and battle their British enemies. But when Charles turns against her she is tried by the Holy Inquisition and, when she refuses to deny her beliefs, is burned for heresy.

Stepmom (Columbia TriStar, PG-13-language and thematic elements) reveals some of the tensions and challenges of this difficult role. Julia Roberts plays a career-driven fashion photographer who faces the resentment her boyfriend's (Ed Harris) two children feel toward her. In addition, she wonders whether she'll be able to live up to their displaced supermom (Susan Sarandon). When tragedy strikes this group, the family bonds together in a new configuration.

Gabbeh (New Yorker) is a magical and visually stunning film set in the arid countryside of Iran. This poetic and picturesque drama celebrates the gnarled beauty of the natural world, the art of weaving and the unique way that story gives life shape and meaning.


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Embracing diversity