Learning to Drive

This radiant, subtle and engrossing film focuses on the blossoming friendship between Wendy, a New York book critic (Patricia Clarkson), and Darwan, an Indian-American Sikh driving teacher (Ben Kingsley). Both are in a time of transition. Her 21-year marriage has just ended, and he is about to marry a shy Sikh woman arriving from India.

Wendy has decided to learn to drive so she can visit her daughter’s college. She engages Darwan’s services. He has integrated his Sikh practices of attention, kindness, sharing and peace into his teaching. He turns out to be sensitive, understanding and tolerant of her fears as she masters one driving challenge after another. She, in turn, shares with him some helpful advice on dealing with his new wife’s insecurities.

Spiritual teachers have pointed out that friendship can be more self-giving than other kinds of love. To portray this mysterious process on the screen is a difficult thing to do. Director Isabel Coixet and screenplay writer Sarah Kernochan have accomplished this rare feat with this film (Broad Green Pictures, R—language and sexual content). Now on DVD.

In Learning to Drive, Darwan (Ben Kingsley) and Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) help each other overcome life’s roadblocks.

America’s Original Sin

Jim Wallis is an author, activist, teacher and pastor who, as founder of Sojourners magazine, has convened faith-inspired movements for justice and peace. He is the author of 10 books, including The New York Times’ best-sellers God’s Politics and The Great Awakening.

In this bold and ambitious work, Wallis calls on Americans to confess their racism, which he defines as “prejudice plus power.” He points to the country’s legacy of oppression of Native Americans followed by the enslavement of African-Americans and the persecution of Asian Americans. He reminds his Christian brothers and sisters of anti-racist texts in the Bible.

Wallis tells his story of “walking his talk” while living in ghettos to fight injustice and work for social change. The heart and soul of this passionate plea for repentance is grounded in a condemnation of white supremacy and the sense of entitlement in segregated communities. Wallis makes a good case for the development of more multiracial congregations and then pleads for reform of the police and prison systems (www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/brazospress”>Brazos Press).

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat

A boy attends art classes at the museum where he and the other children are asked why a painting should be in an exhibition. They reply that it is beautiful, different, tells a story, came from somewhere far away, makes people feel good, is funny or is unique. At home the boy decides his grandmother should be in the museum for all those reasons. Told that the museum doesn’t accept grandmothers, he decides to create his own exhibition.

This picture book by Scott Menchin with illustrations by Harry Bliss, designed for children ages 4 to 8, is a tribute to the power of the imagination to create all kinds of art and the love of family (Abrams Books for Young Readers).

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
The Brussats are the authors of Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life (Scribner, 1996).

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