Arts

Church architecture must express meaning

{mosimage} TORONTO - Christian architecture has to do more than amaze or comfort the people who walk into churches. A church has to mean something, says architect Roberto Chiotti.

Chiotti is best known for his design of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin , a groundbreaking Catholic church in north Toronto that reinterprets the tradition of church architecture to make it work with, rather than against, nature. St. Gabriel’s is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the Canada Green Building Council certified church in Canada and stands as a physical embodiment of the theology of Passionist Father Thomas Berry.

The Innocent Oscars

In “Songs of Innocence and Experience ,” William Blake, poet of the industrial revolution, asks the Tiger (or Tyger, as he spelled it), “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” He asks the lamb, “Dost thou know who made thee?”

Old, mad Blake seems to haunt Hollywood this Oscar season. Each of the five films nominated for best picture in the 81st running of the Academy Awards Feb. 22 tells a story of innocence and experience — of how we pass from trust to terror, and what we lose and what we gain when we learn the truth about the world and our role in it.

Bringing family values back to Hollywood

{mosimage}The spirit of Frank Capra — the Depression-era director who made such hope-filled family fare as It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — still haunts Hollywood as America stares down its worst economy since the 1930s, according to Siobhan Fallon, the veteran Catholic character actor who co-stars with Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. in the romantic screwball comedy New In Town .

That Capra-like embrace of American ideals includes the film’s PG rating. Just weeks before New In Town’s Jan. 30 release, the movie was recut to remove mild profanities and avoid a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America .

A world of contrasts

{mosimage}Reading by Lighting by Joan Thomas (Goose Lane Editions, softcover, 388 pages, $22.95).

The unadorned barn sits listlessly along the sprawling landscape of Lloydminster, Man., in the 1930s. It is here that the hardened inhabitants of this small Prairie town gather for weekly prayer in expression of a zealous but grave apocalyptic faith. The world around offers little comfort. The land is stubborn, the weather unco-operative and the labour severe.  But as the townspeople know, this whirlwind of hardship is transitory — a gateway to the promised afterlife that will reward their fidelity.

Theology of the body rocks

{mosimage}TORONTO - If sex sells, can a pope’s teachings about marriage and sexuality also appeal to the masses?

Two Catholic musicians are hoping that John Paul II’s “theology of the body” set to music will be able to. Or at least encourage listeners to consider an alternative view to the sexually permissive culture.

Seminarian hungers of the Spirit

{mosimage}TORONTO - Robert Galea , a talented guitarist and songwriter, as well as a seminarian from Malta now studying in Australia, played his music for a crowd of 60 people gathered in a small yet welcoming Salt + Light Television studio Jan. 16.

The event, titled Hungry for the Spirit, was a collaborative effort of Salt + Light Television , Civitas, the archdiocese of Toronto and Faith Connections and was filmed for later broadcast on Salt + Light’s concert series Openings.

Developmentally challenged thrive in arts program

{mosimage}TORONTO - Victor Bernardo breakdances in the middle of the room as about a dozen Don Bosco Catholic High School students cheer him on. It’s a retreat day with high school students at St. Jude’s Academy for the Arts on Weston Road.

Bernardo, 25, has been attending the arts academy, which is a non-profit day program for developmentally challenged young adults, for several years.

Spiritual heritage victim of unleashed human reason

Descarte Bones
Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason , by Russell Shorto, (Doubleday, hardcover, 299 pages, $30).

In telling the tale of the remains of philosopher Rene Descartes, who died in 1650 and was buried the first time in Stockholm, Russell Shorto reflects on the personal and the cultural, the religious and the scientific, portraying interesting individuals as they chased after dreams of scientific success. In this history, the ideals of progress are slowly replaced by those of religion.

The battle between good and evil

{mosimage}Space Vulture , by Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Myers (Tor Publishing, 333 pages, $27.95).

When most people think about leaders of the Catholic Church, science fiction doesn’t usually come to mind. However, in March 2008, a book came out that could change this.

A political fight for peace

{mosimage}Creative Dissent: A Politician’s Struggle for Peace by Douglas Roche (Novalis, 381 pages, softcover $37.95).

Douglas Roche was just entering his adult life when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. That event — and the subsequent Cold War and nuclear arms race — would serve as the ever-present backdrop to a political life consistently focused on disarmament and development as the keys to international peace.

Guelph author writes to a younger market

{mosimage}Hello, My Name is Emily by Joy Lynn Goddard (160 pages, 2008, paperback $14.95), Daredevils by Joy Lynn Goddard (178 pages, 2004, paperback $12.95), and Charlie’s Song by Joy Lynn Goddard (215 pages, 2007, paperback $15.95). All published by Chestnut Publishing Group.

Former journalist Joy Lynn Goddard turned her writing talent to producing fiction for a younger crowd. Goddard, a teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Guelph, Ont., has published several books for children and young adults, the first three titled Hello, My Name is Emily, Daredevils and Charlie's Song. As in many coming-of-age books, Goddard has combined adventure with self-realization.

Back to the church

{mosimage}The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir , by John Grogan (Harper Collins, 352 pages, hardcover, $27.95).

John Grogan, author of the bestselling Marley and Me, about his dysfunctional but loveable family pet, has just published a second book, The Longest Trip Home. This time he writes about his life, about growing up Catholic near Detroit and about discovering who he is as an adult and parent. 

Vampires made real

{mosimage}The Twilight series of books may not have sold as many copies as the Harry Potter series over the past decade, but it certainly seems to be taking its place as the new literary candy.

Twilight did however, sell more copies in Canada this past year than Harry Potter books sold during 2007 — the year of the final Harry Potter book release — although the growing fame is where the comparison should stop. Twilight is a different kind of story altogether.