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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat One Lucky Elephant


Elephants, the largest land mammals living today, are amaz- ing creatures, known for their considerable intelligence, extraordinary memory, and delight in living in herds. This deeply moving documentary is about the friendship between Flora the circus elephant and ringmaster David Balding (photo at left), who adopted the 2-year-old African orphan, raised her, and trained her to be the star of his show. But after many years of performing together under the


big tent, she tires of her routines. Balding realizes it’s time for Flora to retire and be with other elephants. But it isn’t easy finding her a new home. This wonderful documentary by Lisa Leeman is a com- plex and thought-provoking meditation on relationships between species and will touch you as an example of caring and compassion (Virgil Films and Entertainment, not rated; www.virgilfilmsent.com).


Mister Rogers & Me “Everyone is special just as they are,” said Fred Rogers (1928- 2003), the host of the popular PBS show Mister Roger’s Neigh-


The Brussats pub- lish the website www. SpiritualityandPractice. com where you can find more information about the items reviewed in this column.


borhood that ran from 1968 to 2001. This engaging and enlightening documentary looks at the creative output and legacy of this multitalented Presbyterian minister. Benjamin Wagner (shown on the right with Rogers), who co-directed the film with his brother Christofer, met the creative and soft-spoken TV personality on Nantucket Island where his mother rented a cottage next door. Rogers took a shine to Wagner, who was working at MTV. He gave the young man some advice: “I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” After his death, the Wagners go on a quest to find out more about the man, his distinctive character qualities, and his legacy. Some of those they interviewed are the late Tim Russert of Meet the Press, National Public Radio correspondent Susan Stamberg, and “Arthur” creator Marc Brown (PBS Home Video, not rated; www.shoppbs.org).


42 The Lutheran • www.thelutheran.org


Journey to the Heart: Christian Contemplatives


Through the Centuries There is a rich tradition of mysticism within Christi- anity, but it has often been underplayed. At one time or another, all of us have been awed by our inability to understand something strange or powerful that


we have experienced. There are so many mysteries: God, human nature, the ties that bind us together, the goodness that brings tears to our eyes, and the disasters and tragedies that lie beyond reason. This book by Kim Nataraja presents a diverse and soul-stirring group of Christian mystics who have paved the way for a richer and deeper devotional life and understanding of God’s presence in all that we do, say or think. This survey takes us from Jesus (an essay by Laurence Freeman) to the contemporary contempla- tive John Main (an essay by Stefan Reynolds). Other mystics covered include the desert fathers, St. Benedict, Julian of Norwich, Thomas Merton and Bede Griffiths. Journey of the Heart is bound to open doors for those who are unfamiliar with these Christian pathfind- ers (Orbis Books, www.orbisbooks.com).


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