{mosimage}Clashes between religion and politics are breaking out all over these days. Those predictions a generation ago that religion would die quietly in a new enlightened secular age appear to be the only thing to have passed to the Great Beyond. Religion is hale and hearty by comparison, though it is appearing in situations that are causing people of faith to squirm.

{mosimage}Advertisers have recently picked up upon a theme teachers have known about for time immemorial. Labour Day is indeed the “real” New Year’s Eve. Many young people and adults make new resolutions to do better and to achieve certain goals. Others will choose a new career or again get serious with their lives. Promises in the calendar year are often linked to the new school year, revolving around our relationship with others, the community, the church and God. They often begin with the words, “This year, I am finally going to….” Well, what exactly are you promising to do?

{mosimage}In the bad old days, Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants in Toronto did not get along. Catholics kept to themselves, Anglicans fussed over what popish dash was allowable in church and old-style Protestants hosted Belfast-style Orange Day parades. Now Catholics marry anyone who will take them, Anglicans scooped our pretty things in the post-Vatican II sales, and there are hardly any old-style Protestants left to speak of. The Orange Day parade, strangely, remains.

{mosimage}The Toronto Star’s Web Forum was neatly categorical. The online results to the question “Should the province fund faith-based schools as John Tory has suggested?” were a staggering 71 per cent No and 28 per cent Yes. What happened to the remaining one per cent is anyone’s guess.

The 2007 Toronto International Film Festival was a huge, happy party from start to finish. It was a mix of gala screenings, sightings of Brad and Angelina, stylish cocktail parties and non-stop schmoozing and gossiping by people in the movie industry. It was one of those events that makes you feel good about our town, and about our moxie when it comes to hosting big cultural conclaves.

{mosimage}Complaining about Sunday shopping might seem the epitome of flogging a dead horse. But in Nova Scotia, the horse has not been long dead and, as the good people of that fair province have discovered, the corpse is still twitching. So let’s flog away.

{mosimage}It’s time to prepare the inevitable back to school budget and the list includes books, toys, clothes and a bullet-proof backpack.

{mosimage}The death on July 31 of Margaret Avison — arguably Canada’s pre-eminent poet writing in English — didn’t actually dominate the national media.  In fact, it took a few days for the obituaries and tributes to make their appearance, and I couldn’t help but reflect that if Avison were not regularly defined as a religious poet and publicly identified as a Christian, her passing might have commanded greater attention.

{mosimage}A profound experiment in the relationship between religion and politics is unfolding in Turkey, an officially secular state but fundamentally Muslim society. If all goes well, as appears likely, it could teach Western societies a useful lesson about the place of faith in a pluralistic society.

God’s Warriors, the six-hour CNN special report broadcast over three evenings in late August, was promoted as an even-handed look at the evil that Jewish, Christian and Islamic militants are promoting in the name of God. Hosted by Iranian-born reporter Christiane Amanpour, a CNN heavyweight, the series purported to document the dark taste for violence in all three religions with roots in Holy Scripture, and, by implication, the violence of biblical religion itself.

{mosimage} An old joke says that when God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He gave him a rake. Then, He added, “I made the Garden perfect. Now take care of it.”