The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Hometown Tales and A Mighty Heart


Hometown Tales: Reflections of Kindness, Peace and Joy by Philip Gulley is a collection of stories, first published in 2001 and now available in paperback, organized around the nine Christian virtues mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These character qualities can be found in people of all walks of life and in everyday events. Gulley, who began writing essays for the members of his Quaker meeting in Indiana and wound up reading them on air to 24 million people who listened to Paul Harvey’s radio show, has a special knack for doing just that.

The author tutors us in the art of kindness with stories about a cantankerous member of his Quaker meeting, a woman who’s not interested in being nice but who is trying to do good, and a fellow minister who is always trying out new approaches in his church. In one story he points out how difficult it is to be patient (“Yellow means ‘speed up’ instead of ‘slow down’ ”) and to let go of ideas we have grown too attached to (“Letting go of past ‘truth’ is like watching your children leave home for good. You know they must depart, but their leaving brings tears”).

Gulley excels when he probes the meaning of joy: “It isn’t that God withholds it; joy is always looking to climb into our laps. ... It’s only when we stop talking long enough to whisper grace that joy has a way of rubbing against us, curling in our lap, making its presence known” (HarperSanFrancisco).


A Mighty Heart, shot on location in Pakistan, India and France, is a complicated and sophisticated political drama directed by Michael Winterbottom. It’s based on the true story of American reporter Danny Pearl, who was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 while researching a story about the shoe bomber. Working with a documentary-like screenplay by John Orloff, Winterbottom refuses to play into those who hope that this incident would be used as fuel to up the ante in the war against terrorism. He focuses the story on Pearl’s wife Marianne (Angelina Jolie). With great courage, she refuses to succumb to hate, clinging to the hope that another way will prevail. For five harrowing weeks, the Pearl residence is at the center of both the investigation and a media circus. Eventually it’s learned that Danny has been killed.

The spiritual dimension of this movie is evident in Marianne’s compassion. In one media appearance she notes how the violence of hatred touches the lives of other families who have lost loved ones during the same time she did. In another statement, she laments the poverty that lies behind all acts of terrorism. She seeks not revenge but to build bridges among the suffering.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation was formed to further the ideals that inspired his life and work (Paramount, R—language).


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