{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.

{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.”

{mosimage}Judging from the torrent of abuse poured on Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory in recent weeks, it is clear that his proposal to fund religious-based education with tax dollars has touched one of those latent nerves in the provincial populace. His is a brave stand indeed, one that deserves better than the dismissal it has received in many quarters.

One of the many surprises New Brunswick had for this native Torontonian and staunch Upper Canadian is the solid Irish fact — as strong as the Acadian — that defines so much of the history and culture of the province.  Some 38 per cent of the population is of Irish ancestry and the port city of Saint John is as Irish as Cork.

{mosimage}On Sunday July 8, Nova Scotia went one step further down the road to making Sunday just like any other day of the week. It was inevitable. After years of attempting to control Sunday shopping, and a plebiscite in 2004 where 55 per cent of voters cast their ballots in support of a Sunday ban on shopping, the pressure became unbeatable.
The year I turned 13, my parents booked a week at a lakefront resort, a departure from our family’s usual summer plans. This afforded us a wealth of recreational opportunities. Little did we know, though, how big a role the activities director would play in our enjoyment of them.
{mosimage}On July 10, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document reaffirming Catholic ecclesiology entitled “Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church.” The succinct, three-page document, in essence, simply reaffirms the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the theology of the church (ecclesiology), as well as modern encyclicals and magisterial documents.
{mosimage}Occasionally, the image of Canadians — as portrayed in popular media — runs headlong into the wall of Canadian reality. It happened in early July when a new opinion poll revealed that a majority of Canadians believe that God had a hand in making human beings who they are.
{mosimage}The prayers of the Holy Father for the 15th World Day of the Sick in 2007 were expressed in his message written on Dec. 8, 2006. He reminded us that, “Despite the advances of science, a cure cannot be found for every illness, and thus in hospitals, hospices and homes throughout the world we encounter the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are incurably and often terminally ill.”