For your leisure-time reading and viewing, Clarity Magazine recommends the following books and movies:
Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of Buddha
by Thich Nhat Hanh
In Old Path White Clouds, Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk, beautifully recounts of the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha, covering a period of eighty years. Drawing on original sources, the story is told alternately through the eyes of Svasti, the buffalo boy who provided kusha grass for the Buddha’s enlightenment cushion and the Buddha himself. A book destined to become a spiritual classic.
A Man Called Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall
by Catherine Marshall
This best-selling biography, written by Peter Marshall’s wife, has touched the hearts and minds of millions of people since first published in 1951. Peter Marshall was an immigrant from Scotland who, at a young age, felt the call of God. A Man Called Peter recounts his life and journey from a struggling young pastor to more prominent positions, including chaplain to the United States Senate.
This powerful story is filled with humor, wisdom, and loving detail. (See below for the movie based on this book.)
The Life Everlasting
by Marie Corelli
The Life Everlasting is an inspiring spiritual allegory about a woman’s search for divine love. The heroine goes through many tests to work through the inner conflicts blocking her spiritual progress, resolving each of them until she achieves the perfect peace and love of Spirit. Swami Kriyananda describes it as a “beautiful book” and the only novel Paramhansa Yogananda read to the end.
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankel
In Man’s Search for Meaning, internationally renowned psychiatrist, Viktor E. Frankel gives a deeply moving account of his imprisonment at Auschwitz and the horrors of life in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. As a result of his personal struggles and those of his fellow inmates, Frankel developed a revolutionary new approach to psychotherapy known as Logo Therapy based on his belief that the basic human motivation in life is the search for meaning and purpose.
Listed by the Library of Congress as on of the ten most influential books in the United States, Man’s Search for Meaning has sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages.
The Perfect Joy of St. Francis
by Felix Timmermans
In this well-written, easy to read biographical novel, Felix Timmermans brings to life the story of St. Francis of Assisi, the great medieval saint. He gives us an inspiring portrait of Francis as a man, poet, ascetic, stigmatist, miracle worker, servant of the poor and joyous disciple of Christ. Filled with humor, pathos, and divine inspiration, this book is a “must read” for those interested in St. Francis’ life and ministry.
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A Man Named Pearl, 2006
This inspiring documentary tells the story of Pearl Fryar who taught himself “topiary” (the art of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes) and transformed his three and half acre yard into a wondrous garden that now draws tourists from across the country. Angered by white racist comments that he wouldn’t “keep up his yard,” Pearl Fryar taught himself topiary sculpture and became the first African-American in Bishopville, S.C. to win the coveted “yard of the month” award.
Intimate and uplifting, A Man Named Pearl offers a captivating view of the life a man who turned obstacles into breathtakingly beautiful possibilities.
Available: DVD; Rated G
The Mahabharata, 1989
This three-hour film version captures the essence of the ancient Indian epic, The Mahabharata. It is the story of two royal families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, both vying for control of their respective kingdoms. The five Pandava brothers endure treachery, attempted murder, and 13 years of exile at the hands of the Kauravas and their leader Duryodhana, but never weaken in their determination to regain their kingdom. The international cast and simple costuming add to the timeless quality of the story.
Available: DVD; Not Rated
Groundhog Day, 1993
In this unusual and highly rated comedy, an arrogant and self-centered TV weatherman finds himself paying off some sort of karmic debt by having to relive the same day over and over again. Sent to Punxsutawney, Pa. for the fourth year in a row to cover the town’s annual Groundhog Day event, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) makes no effort to hide his frustration over this hated assignment. After grudgingly giving his report, the town is suddenly inundated by a blizzard and he is forced to stay over night. The next morning he wakes up to find himself caught up in a “time loop”— having to relive Ground Hog Day over and over again. Realizing that this may go on for eternity, he discovers that compassion, kindness, love and creativity are the way out of his dilemma.
Available: DVD & Blu-ray; Rated PG
Chariots of Fire, 1981
This internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama features the true life story of two very different British track athletes who compete in the 1924 Summer Olympics. Eric Liddell is a Scottish Christian whose running makes him feel closer to God. For the other athlete, Harold Abrahams, a Jew, running is a way to surmount the institutional hurdles of class prejudice and anti-Semitism. Though both men “bring home the gold,” the movie focuses on the character and integrity of these two world class athletes and the inner victories they achieve through their commitment and devotion to their ideals.
Available: DVD; Rated PG
A Man Called Peter, 1955
This movie is an adaptation of the best-selling biography, A Man Called Peter, written by his wife Catherine Marshall. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. (See book description above)
Available: DVD; Not Rated
Haichi: A Dog’s Tale, 2009
This drama of loyalty and devotion is based on the true story of a college professor’s enduring bond with an abandoned dog. When the professor dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, the loyal dog , which he named Haichi-ko keeps a regular vigil – for more than a decade – at the train station where he greeted the professor everyday. Uplifting and inspiring entertainment for the whole family.
Available: DVD & Blu-ray; Rated G
This award winning documentary follows the life of acclaimed “horse whisperer,” Buck Brannaman, who recovered from an abusive childhood to become a well-known expert in the interactions between horses and people. Brannaman recounts details of his troubled childhood and his dawning awareness of new ways that humans and horses might work with one another. As Buck learns more about horses, he finds that the ways we communicate with our animal companions offer lessons on how we can better relate to fellow human beings.
Available: DVD; Rated PG (a few scenes of child abuse and violence towards animals)
Come to the Stable, 1949
Come to the Stable, based on a short story by Clare Booth Luce, tells a very simple but moving story of two nuns from a French convent who arrive in a small New England town with a plan to build a children’s hospital. They enlist the help of several colorful characters including a struggling artist, a popular composer, and a renowned racketeer, who is transformed in the process. The nuns even play a little professional tennis to raise money. Come to the Stable is ideal holiday fare for the whole family.
Available: VHS Only; Not Rated