The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Love as a Way of Life and The Band's Visit


Love as a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life by Gary Chapman takes an all-too-familiar subject and infuses it with startling breadth, depth and everyday practicality. Chapman is an ordained minister, a popular speaker and the host of A Growing Marriage, a national radio program. He muses on the satisfactions of a loving life and then shares seven ways to bring love into all of our relationships. Chapters cover Kindness: Discovering the Joy of Helping Others; Patience: Accepting the Imperfections of Others; Forgiveness: Finding Freedom from the Grip of Anger; Courtesy: Treating Others as Friends; Humility: Stepping Down So Someone Else Can Step Up; Generosity: Giving Yourself to Others; and Honesty: Revealing Who You Really Are.

Each chapter contains a treasure trove of practical material including a questionnaire, a definition of the character trait in the context of authentic love, habits to acquire, counterpoints to the character trait to overcome, how this quality could change how you relate to others, and a mix of questions and suggestions for personal growth. We found much to admire in this book on everyday spirituality, especially the material on courtesy, “the act of treating everyone as a friend.” It involves many little actions toward strangers, friends and family members (Doubleday).


The Band’s Visit is an Israeli film that speaks to the somber mood of our times. All over the world there is an omnipresent fear of the stranger, an attitude that is given credence by the culture wars, real wars and the so-called war on terrorism.

This is the backdrop to The Band’s Visit, which revolves around the challenges faced by an Egyptian police band that arrives in Israel to play at the opening of an Arab Cultural Center. When no one meets them at the airport, they take a bus to the community where they are to play. But they get the wrong directions and end up in a small, out-of-the-way desert town with no hotels or inns and no bus until the morning. Fortunately, the owner and patrons of a roadside café offer them lodging.

Director Erna Kolirin has fashioned a deeply moral drama about the bridge-making capacities of hospitality. Instead of making a message film about Arabs and Jews, Kolirin has made a comedy filled with lovable characters struggling to communicate with those from a different culture and religion. They reach out to each other in simple ways: singing “Summertime” around a kitchen table, listening to the cadences in the Arabic language, sharing a moment on a park bench and telling the stories of their lives. Author Thea Jarvis has observed that hospitality “remains the glorious centerpiece of the human table. It’s the flag we rally around to remind ourselves that we’re all in this together. It’s the sturdy thread that binds us gently to each other” (Sony Pictures, PG-13—brief strong language).


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February issue


Embracing diversity