Film review

Last Days in the Desert

This is an immersive spiritual drama inspired by the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness when he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). Director Rodrigo Garcia has reimagined that situation, updating the temptations to contemporary ones, such as the need to be special, the urge to fix people’s problems and the fear of what might happen in the future. The film is also about fathers and sons, family loyalty and love, presence, empathy, compassion and the mystery of divine grace that infuses all of life with meaning.

Ewan McGregor plays Yeshua, who goes to the desert to connect with God and be affirmed in his mission. There he encounters a demon, also played by McGregor, and a family struggling with various problems.

In one of the early scenes this wanderer cries out, “Father speak to me,” and at first there seems to be no response. But as the film goes on, we realize that God is speaking to him through the desert, his experiences there, the family and even the demon (Broad Green Pictures, PG-13—some disturbing images and brief partial nudity).

Book review

Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity
By Norman Wirzba

“Does Christianity still matter? Aren’t we better off without this archaic religion and its sectarian squabbles and divisive politics?” These questions are addressed in this book by a professor of theology and ecology at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, N.C. He maintains that Christianity is a training ground in the way of love and Jesus is the best example of this way, but we can’t learn to love on our own since it involves relationships. Christian community is a “merciful and indispensable classroom.”

Wirzba identifies four movements of love in Christian faith: (1) Creation as an expression of divine love; (2) Fall as the consequence of division, separation and isolation; (3) Redemption as the healing of our broken and selfish ways; and (4) Hope as the re-creation of life out of death (HarperOne).

Children’s book

Feathers for Peacock
By Jacqueline Jules

Long ago, when the world was new, all the birds were naked and cold in the winter. One day they all got together and asked the Moon for advice. Touched by their predicament, the Moon tells them that the next day at dawn they should rub against the plants and flowers, and they will be clothed. That is how Parrot got feathers the color of tulips and Flamingo became pink like the cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, Peacock was sound asleep when all this was happening. When he comes out and the others see he is still naked, they decide to give him some of their feathers.

This children’s picture book with vibrant illustrations by Helen Cann has many of the qualities of a traditional myth about how things came to be as they are. Children and adults will recognize its simple and laudable moral: True friends are generous and kind. (Wisdom Tales).

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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