The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Books, Movies, TV, Videos

Bumping Into God Again: 35 More Stories of Finding Grace in Unexpected Places by Dominic Grassi contains a lively mix of vignettes about his family, friends and associates. The author divides the book into seven sections with stories about God's patience, justice, absence, image, order, word and gentleness. Among the people you'll meet are a wise bag lady, an angry woman in a parking lot, a priest, and the author's parents and siblings. Savoring the many hues of grace is an important part of the Christian calling. Grassi shows us how to discern God's presence in the stories of our lives (Loyola Press).

Calle 54 is a musical journey that celebrates the rhythmic vitality, passion and creativity of Latino jazz. Visiting various artists in New York City, San Juan, Havana and Andalusia, director Fernando Trueba opens our eyes to the incredible diversity of this musical genre. In the recording studio, these artists don't hold anything back in the expression of their souls. During the film's opening sequence, we were reminded of the jazz vesper services at St. Peter Lutheran Church, Manhattan, where many well-known artists, including Duke Ellington, performed. The minister in charge of the service made the connection between the Spirit blowing in the wind and the musicians' improvisatory riffs. May you do the same while watching these musicians (Miramax, not rated).

Big Mama, a Cinemax Reel Life documentary, received this year's Academy Award for best documentary short subject. It depicts the struggle of Viola Dees, an African American 89-year-old grandmother, to raise her orphaned grandson, Walter, 9, under the watchful eye of a complex and difficult child welfare system. Producer and director Tracy Seretean dedicated her Oscar to all the grandmothers raising children today (Cinemax, May 30, 7:30-8:15 p.m. EDT).

Kestrel's Eye is a Swedish documentary about two kestrels (European falcons) who live in a nook near the top of a 13th-century church steeple. It took nature filmmaker Mikael Kristersson more than two years to make the film. With no music or narrative, we are drawn into the sounds of the birds (cooing, chirping, bleating) and the humans below (sirens, a cell phone, church bells, the singing congregation, the church organ, a passing band in a parade). One of the most touching sequences shows the maturing of five kestrel fledglings to the point where they are ready to leave the nest. This event is contrasted with pictures of a bridal couple in the churchyard getting ready to leave their parents and create a life together. For a brief moment, the two worlds intersect in a mystical and touching way. At the end of the film you'll feel a deep reverence for these fellow creatures of God's creation (First Run Features, not rated).


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