‘Troublemaker’ Hughes finally gets her due

Radicals and deviants have to fight their way into the history books. Ninety years after her death, Katherine Hughes is finally winning that battle.

The revolution of the pill: controversial to this day

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig (W. W. Norton & Company, 409 pages, $32.95 in print, $16.05 on Kindle).

Here’s the faith in the American Sniper you won’t see in the film

Chris Kyle, often described as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, wrote in his autobiography that he prioritized his life in the following order: God, country, family.

Music takes Steve Bell from the big house to God’s house

Steve Bell was ready to face the music: his decade-long career as a nightclub musician was over.

The evolution of the penitential rite

Penance in Medieval Europe, 600-1200 by Rob Meens (Cambridge University Press, softcover, 290 pages, $29.99).

At a time when the Sacrament of Penance is in decline, a new history of early Medieval penance helps put today’s apparent crisis in a much longer perspective. Rob Meens offers a scholarly overview of the formative period when sacramental confession emerged. He takes readers back to when Catholicism appeared very different from what we expect today, a journey which some might find unsettling, others enlightening.

Actress tried to show human side of Mary

Every step that Mary took, she took out of love, says Alissa Jung.

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

Some ideas for an eco-friendly Christmas:

LED lights
1. Use 90- to 95-per-cent less energy.
2. Last at least seven times longer than ordinary lights.
3. Are more durable and don’t have any breakable filaments or glass bulbs.
4. Produce less heat, thereby reducing the risk of fire.

Christmas trees
1. Why not buy a potted tree this year? You can transplant it outside in the spring or let it grow on your balcony and bring it back inside for use next Christmas.
2. If you buy a real tree, find out if your municipality picks them up after Christmas for mulching.

Decorations
1. Deck your halls with handmade decorations like popcorn and fresh cranberry chains. A biodegradable choice!
2. Buy decorations you can reuse year after year. Instead of throwing out old ornaments, consider repainting them.

Gifts
1. Everyone has items that they don’t use or are as good as new. Give gifts of repaired or refurbished items.
2. Buy environmentally friendly gifts that the receivers will appreciate. Buy products certified EcoLogo or Energy Star, the symbol of high energy efficiency.

Gift wrap
1. Use cloth gift bags instead of paper. You can craft wonderful personalized bags that may be appreciated as much as the gift inside, and can be reused.
2. Or you can use old posters, photos or comics from the newspaper, or magazine pages to wrap presents.
3. To add the finishing touch to your gifts, use pine cones, evergreen branches or other colourful objects from nature instead of store-bought ribbons and bows.
4. Be gentle this year when opening your presents and save the paper and ribbon for next year!
5. Even simpler, put your presents in reusable gift bags!

Heating
1. Cooking and entertaining can really warm up your home. Before the kitchen gets too hot, turn down your thermostat. Don’t open the window.
2. In winter, use fans to circulate warm air through the house.
3. If lots of people are coming and going, make sure you close doors properly and keep the warm air inside for you and your guests.
4. If you heat with a wood stove, make sure your chimney is clean and that your wood stove is EPA-certified. Minimize use of your fireplace.

(Source: greenchurch.ca.)

Unbroken

NEW YORK - Positive values permeate the inspirational fact-based drama "Unbroken" (Universal). Despite its admirable qualities, however, the film also represents something of a missed opportunity.

Has this author no shame?

Love  The Saint and the Seeker by Christina Stevens (Hay House, 328 pages, softcover, $16.95)

The cover to Love — The Saint and the Seeker shows a photograph of Blessed Mother Teresa with her head slightly bent, listening attentively, perhaps even submissively, while Christina Stevens, the author, speaks to her, script in hand. The look is distinctly collaborative. The title is writ large across the photo. The subtitle, somewhat more discreetly placed at the bottom.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

NEW YORK - Time was when the biblical extravaganza was a Hollywood staple.

Cyberslums where online abusers prowl need pastoral care, say speakers

VATICAN CITY - A new kind of ghetto needs the church's presence and people's solidarity: the "digital slum" where cyberbullying and online pornography and abuse run rampant, said speakers at a Vatican news conference.

Is updated Band Aid charity song demeaning to Africans?

NAIROBI, Kenya - Some church leaders are criticizing a British musicians’ charity group raising funds for the West African Ebola crisis, saying its new single reinforces negative stereotypes of Africa.

Smoking gun? Pope Francis’ critics cite new book in questioning his papacy

NEW YORK - Was there a secret plot to elect Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the papal conclave last year? Did Bergoglio — who became Pope Francis at that conclave — give the go-ahead to such a plan? And does that campaign call his election, and his papacy, into question?