The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


When the Well Runs Dry and Martian Child


When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings by Thomas H. Green is a classic Christian work that can be read again and again. The author has served for more than 25 years as the spiritual director of San Jose Seminary in Manila. He quotes some advice from The Cloud of Unknowing: “Wait with gracious and modest courtesy for the Lord’s initiative.” Green also uses illustrative material from three masters of prayer—Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Ignatius of Loyola—to describe the stages of interior growth. Especially valuable is the author’s assessment of the drying up of the well of devotion as a maturing opportunity “to waste time gracefully.” Drought can mean growth when we learn from it how to be at home in the dark. Calling prayer “the most mysterious dimension of all human experience,” Green concludes with an enlightening examination of the art of floating (relax, let go, hang loose) as a metaphor for faithfully resting in the grace of God (Ave Maria Press).


Martian Child is a comedy masterwork that touches the heart. John Cusack stars as a science fiction writer whose wife has died. She had wanted to adopt a child, and now he wonders if he should do so. At a children’s group home, he is drawn to Dennis (Bobby Coleman), an uncommunicative boy who spends most of his time in a box. Dennis claims to be from Mars and has to keep out of the sun because his skin is so sensitive. Although David’s married sister (Joan Cusack) warns him that Dennis may have too many problems, he decides to adopt him.

It comes as quite a shock to this new father that the boy from the red planet will only eat Lucky Charms cereal, loves to take Polaroid pictures, wears a special gravity belt so he doesn’t float away and claims he is on a mission to learn to be human in an Earth family before returning home. David is amazed by Dennis’ seeming ability to make traffic lights change and to recognize colors by taste. But at school, the boy’s habit of stealing and hanging upside down during recess results in him being asked to leave.

Martian Child is based on a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short story by David Gerrold and is directed by Menno Meyjes. This delightful family comedy is filled with insights into parenting and the special challenge of creating a place called home. From the outset, David shows that he’s a great listener who can reach this alienated boy where he lives and make him feel that he belongs. For example, teaching him to play baseball, David shares an inspiring story about not giving up and being star material no matter how many times you fail. Best of all, he paints an imaginative picture of the universe as a place of mystery, wonder and love. This wonderful movie tutors us all in the art of becoming a rounded human being (New Line Cinema, PG).


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