The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Sin Boldly and The Tale of Despereaux


Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace by Cathleen Falsani explores God’s presence in the manifold events of our daily lives. The author, a Christian, has written a column on spirituality and popular culture for the Chicago Sun-Times since 2001. In defining her subject she writes: “Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve.” God’s grace is meeting and greeting us in every moment: it’s just that we usually don’t take the time to discern these abundant gifts.

Most of the essays are about the process of “gracespotting,” a spiritual practice Falsani picked up from a rabbi in Montana. She mines the meanings—from a visit to Elvis’ home Graceland with a friend to being in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II to dealing with the hate e-mail from Christians who objected to a column she wrote about Jerry Falwell. Falsani does a good job modeling the art of being on the constant lookout for signs of grace. She concludes: “You can call it what you like, categorize it, vivisect it, qualify, quantify, or dismiss it, and none of it will make grace anything other than precisely what grace is: audacious, unwarranted, and unlimited” (Zondervan).


The Tale of Despereaux is a rousing animated feature in which four characters from very different worlds come together for a grand and meaningful adventure that demonstrates the spiritual potency of courage, love, light and forgiveness. This screen adaptation of Kate DiCamilo’s Newbery Award-winning book is a total delight: she also wrote Because of Winn-Dixie, another favorite of ours.

Producer and screenplay writer Gary Ross has a love for underdogs as demonstrated in his previous movies Seabiscuit, Big and Dave. Here the underdog is a mouse born with eyes open and two very big ears. The elders are dismayed when they discover he doesn’t scurry and has no fear. In school with other mice, Despereaux fails to cower when shown a picture of a cat. This alarms his parents, teachers and the authorities in Mouse World. After further signs that he won’t act like a typical mouse and his breaking of some rules, he is banished to Rat World. There he is rescued from certain death by Roscuro, a lonely rat who used to live on a ship.

Despereaux dreams of being a knight and rescuing a princess, specifically Princess Pea whose kingdom has been shrouded with gloom since a tragic accident. On his quest, Despereaux also meets Miggery Snow, a serving girl who dreams of being a princess.

The Tale of Despereaux has great characters, an inspiring story and laudable spiritual values that children and adults alike will appreciate. Here having curiosity and being kind prove to be very valuable assets. And, best of all, there are no totally evil villains in this fairy tale (Universal Pictures, G).


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