The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Jesus Today and Miss Potter


Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom by Albert Nolan is a follow-up to Jesus Before Christianity, a classic about the political context of Jesus’ mission. The author writes poignantly about the mysticism of the man from Nazareth—his experience of union with God as Abba—and how it was connected to his prophetic mission. This blend of spirituality and a passion for justice gives Christians a model to follow in daily life.

Nolan is convinced that Jesus did not reject the law of the Torah but understood that the laws were intended to be of help to people, not be worshiped in themselves. He was a revolutionary in other ways too—especially in challenging the disciples to move beyond the limitations of blood family to the broader family of the kingdom of God. Although he was radically critical of the world, Jesus never singled out individuals for blame, condemnation or hatred, no matter what they did. He was also a healer, an aspect of his ministry that Nolan thinks is very important.

Jesus demonstrated a path of personal transformation that we would do well to emulate today. His practice of silence and solitude led to an inner peace and tranquility. He was grateful to God for all the blessings of his life. In the final section of this paperback, Nolan reveals the ways in which Jesus lived a sanctified life, practicing a unity with others based on love (Orbis Books).


Miss Potter is a delightful and engaging movie about the power of place in the life of the world’s most famous writer of children’s books. The drama was written by Richard Maltby Jr. and directed by Chris Noonan, who was last at the helm of the immensely popular Babe (1995). This “biopicture” of Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was filmed in Cecil Court, Covent Garden and the Lake District in Great Britain.

Even as a girl of 10, Beatrix is a great storyteller whose brother sometimes asks for her tales instead of those from books. She considers animals to be some of her best friends and is a careful observer of their behavior. Her father lavishes praise on his daughter’s drawing skills, but her social-climbing mother doesn’t approve of her interests. By the time Beatrix (Renee Zellweger) is in her 30s and has rejected every suitor presented to her, her mother concludes she will never marry.

Everything changes for Beatrix when she finds a publisher for her story The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which she illustrated with very fine watercolor paintings. Her book and the many that follow are very successful, and her relationship with Norman (Ewan McGregor), the editor, turns into something magical. But the most transformative thing happens when Beatrix buys her own farm. For her, it’s not only a spot where she is inspired, it is a sacred place to be protected from developers. The closing sequences show how Beatrix Potter’s love of place enabled her to save it for future generations (Weinstein Company, PG).


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