Arts

Convent stay helps shape angel novel

Danielle TrussoniTORONTO - For 132 years, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse, Wisconsin, have upheld an unbroken practice of perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

This Catholic tradition is the unlikely inspiration for acclaimed author Danielle Trussoni’s new action-packed thriller and novel-turned-Hollywood movie Angelology.

Plain and simple, killing is wrong

{mosimage}Autobiography of an Execution, by David R. Dow (Twelve, 320 pages, hard cover, $29.99.)

David Dow may not believe in God, but he does believe in justice, love and compassion — and he certainly has a conscience. A death penalty lawyer, he works in Texas for a non-profit organization that attempts to save inmates from capital punishment.

Dow does not try to save the prisoners because he feels for them personally. In fact, he dislikes most of his clients. But, as he makes very clear, they do not deserve to die, and certainly not through a biased, racist and classist criminal justice system.

A poor man's biblical view of economics

{mosimage}Jesus and Money: A guide for Times of Financial Crisis by Ben Witherington III (Brazos Press, soft cover, 192 pages, $21.99)

Ben Witherington knows Scripture and he might know money, but when he brings the two together he falls short of talking sense.

Witherington brings biblical teaching on money to bear on the current economic crisis in Jesus and Money. Witherington is a well-published Evangelical biblical scholar whose works cover a wide range of scholarly debates, presenting them in accessible ways for lay Christian audiences. In this book, however, Witherington presents an incomplete view of biblical texts on wealth and oversteps the bounds of his expertise as he applies these texts to today’s economy.

This incompleteness is ironic, as Witherington explicitly stakes out his position as a “canonical” approach to the Scriptures. That is, he insists Christians may not pick and choose parts of Scripture that appeal to them while ignoring others. This is precisely the problem with his primary target throughout the book: advocates of the “health and wealth” or “prosperity” Gospel who focus on texts which seem to suggest that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.

Salt+Light opens a Rome bureau

TORONTO - The Canadian Catholic television network opened a bureau based in Vatican City on March 19. It is a joint effort of Catholic News Service, the Knights of Columbus, H2O News and Salt + Light.

“Topics of interest to the church and to the world’s faithful pose problems for journalists who are often on deadline, face limits on space and worry about tackling topics deemed taboo,” said Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light. “We hope our efforts in Rome will help people read beyond the headlines.”

A seraphic look at the single life

{mosimage}TORONTO - Determined to stay faithful to Catholic teachings and still enjoy the single life, Catholic Register columnist Dorothy Cummings McLean started a blog at the age of 35 on how to be single and stay seraphic.

A selection of those blog posts from her last year of studies at Boston College are now featured in Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to stop Worrying and Love the Single Life, released by Novalis in March.

Regis College's new homes welcomes its first art show

{mosimage}TORONTO - Artist Catherine Crowe stood quietly, contemplating three of fellow painter Galina Oussatcheva's icons hanging in the lobby of Regis College, and then pronounced, "These are spectacular."

In front of another stretch of wall Jesuit scholastic Trevor Scott was inspecting sculptor Farhad Nargol-O'Neill's 14 compressed and complex stations of the cross, and was very pleased.

Repo Men shows how capitalism is a part of us

{mosimage}A certain kind of reviewer, many of them working for the religious press, is going to object to Repo Men because of all the blood and swearing. As if morality consisted of a list of banned words and bodily fluids.

Catholics know morality has nothing to do with purity codes or legalisms. When legalists (sometimes Pharisees and sometimes Scribes) confronted Jesus over purity issues (ceremonial washing before meals), His response was derisive.

Artist Galina Oussatchevafaith enlightened through iconography

{mosimage}TORONTO - There’s an art to looking at eternity, but figuring that out wasn’t easy for 29-year-old Russian-Canadian iconographer Galina Oussatcheva.

Oussatcheva grew up in communist and post-communist Moscow at a time when Russian society was still phobic about religion and as secularized and post-Christian as any capital in Western Europe. She first saw Russian icon painting when she was 10 years old, on a class trip to the Cathedral of the Dormition of Mary in the Kremlin.

Fr. Stan tells teens '2' love

{mosimage}U Got 2 Love by Fr. Stan Fortuna, C.F.R. (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 254 pages, $13.95.)

In the latest instalment of the U Got 2 series from renowned rapping priest Fr. Stan Fortuna, Catholics are not only urged, but called “2” love.

This follow-up to U Got 2 Believe and U Got 2 Pray dedicates itself to the dominant force in our faith and provides Catholics with a desperately needed and refreshing approach to a world stuck chasing impoverished and superficial love.

The refugee rap video funded by Toronto refugee office

{mosimage}TORONTO - When a 14-year-old boy from Sri Lanka arrived on his doorstep in Accra, Ghana, with little ability to communicate in English, 26-year-old Michael Baah saw firsthand just how difficult it can be for refugees to get help.

So he made a music video about it.

The video, “Refugee Appeal,” produced by Martin Mark, director of the Office for Refugees of the archdiocese of Toronto, was posted on YouTube shortly before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees declared Piratheeprajh SriVijayarajarajan a vulnerable, at risk youth in need of expedited processing.

The evolution of Robin Hood

{mosimage}Hodd by Adam Thorpe (Random House UK, 320 pages, $34).

The Robin Hood most of us grew up with was a perfect hero for bookish kids. He was cheerful, generous and just. He surrounded himself with merry men, had a loyal, clever, cute girlfriend and together they robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

If we thought about it later, we might have regarded the Robin Hood of childhood books, movies and cartoons as a gentleman who had taken sides in the class struggle.

The 'Oprahfication' of forgiveness

{mosimage}Forgiveness: One Step at a Time by Joseph F. Sica (Novalis, softcover, 142 pages, $15.95).

Alas, by the end of chapter one, I was trying hard not to be cynical about this book. This goes beyond my own ongoing struggles with forgiveness. I had read Sr. Helen Prejean’s endorsement on the back cover, in which she says this book will change lives. But the book starts with a clichéd story about a woman named Betsy whose husband has left her for another woman. Betsy, naturally enough, wants revenge and plenty of it: “I want to get even!” she screams at the author, a priest and her spiritual mentor. “I want him to hurt like I hurt!” The scenario and the tired dialogue in particular sounded made up.

Restoration help St. John's reconnect with its past

{mosimage}TORONTO - St. John’s Church isn’t what it used to be, but to Lynn East it feels like home.

“This is lovely. It’s like coming home again,” said East as she gazed from the back pew up toward the altar.

East was married at St. John’s on Kingston Road in Toronto’s east end in 1969. Shortly after her wedding the church went through major, post-Concilliar surgery. Not only was the communion rail taken down and the altar turned around, but the icons painted on the wall behind the altar were painted over and the grotto-like shrine for Mary filled in, covering up one of the church’s stained glass windows.