The Young Victoria, a chronicle of Queen Victoria’s early days on the English throne, avoids all the historical-epic pitfalls. It’s a trim, robust film whose period-piece trappings—sumptuous production and costume design—never threaten to overwhelm the human interaction or muddy the dramatic arc.
Hardly a day passes without someone declaring the death of the book. Recently Lisa Miller of Newsweek viewed an electronic edition of the Bible that was replete with linked maps, a commentary and dictionary, and 700 paintings depicting biblical scenes. Astonished, she sputtered, “This is the beginning of the end of the Word.”Theologically, the future of the Word as the Bible remains assured. That is because the God met in Israel and Jesus Christ acts in history, and the church (as well as the synagogue) can give no remotely adequate account of its faith and practice without resort to the memory of a story that's been preserved via the spoken and written word.
Having lived in the town of Jonathan Edwards and his grandfather Solomon Stoddard for some 20 years, I’ve come to feel a kinship to the 17th- and 18th-century Puritan divines—as if they were relatives who somehow got left off my family tree.
The films of Austrian director Michael Haneke offer no easy answers. Haneke presents the time, place, characters and backstory before eventually revealing a problem. This might or might not become the film’s focus: other problems pop up, new characters materialize, and various possibilities present themselves.
The feel of awl and augur in his hardened hands, the rough hull rimed with salt, a whittled plug he made himself, so tight he set his teeth! His handiwork behind him, Norway a miniature carved in the distance, he watched the gray Atlantic like a ravenous whale devour everything between.
The story ends, and yet begins again. Here in a foreign port, his touch begins to read each sign, the curves and swellings, splintered keel and patchwork. How his heart quickens when he finds his father’s fishing boat, familiar as his name, the family build, their house nailed fast above the rocky harbor.
And yet begins again. How the found word both fits and startles, an oracle recovered just in time, just when it’s needed, just before faith slips away like my great-grandfather’s wedding coat, ruined in a flooded basement with old books and portraits, speckled sepia like a gull’s egg, water-marked and too far gone to keep.
Nathan Eckstrom teaches English in the Boston Public Schools, one of the most diverse school systems in the country. Its more than 9,000 students come from about 100 countries, and they speak more than 80 languages. Instead of taking a vacation this past summer, Eckstrom went to Haiti to find the places where several of his students live and to visit their extended families. He knows that he will be able to make better connections with his Haitian students after learning about their culture and country. Over the past ten years, Boston teachers have made similar trips to Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and other countries. Fund for Teachers, a Houston-based nonprofit, helps fund these trips (Boston Globe, September 12).