Arts

Tempting morsels can't convince this skeptic

{mosimage}Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food  by Raoul W. Adamchak and Pamela C. Ronald (Oxford University Press, hardcover, 208 pages, $31.95).

Is your future food going to be organic, genetically engineered or both?

Organic farming and genetic engineering are ultimately a conflict of two world views. Organic agriculture uses the cycles of nature to its advantage and avoids problems by using farm practices such as a more complex rotation system of crops and a low number of animals in a confined space. Biotechnology is locked in the old paradigm of “controlling nature” and is designed to fix problems which often occur because of industrial farming practices. Organic farming is based on biodiversity. Biotechnology, by its very nature, reduces the number of varieties of crops grown and threatens genetic diversity. 

The story behind the Irish invasion of 1847

{mosimage}It was either death or a long voyage to Canada for the Willis family and more than 38,000 Irish immigrants who landed in Toronto in the summer of 1847.

But the story of how that impacted the city of 20,000 and its wave of new citizens who fled from a deadly typhus outbreak and the potato famine of 1845 to 1851 in their Irish homeland has gone untold for more than a century, now to be uncovered in a docudrama called Death or Canada: Fleeing the Famine . It will air on History Television March 16.

Women overcoming boundaries within faith

{mosimage}Making Sense of God by Elizabeth Dreyer, Grieving with Grace by Dolores R. Leckey, Living a Spirituality of Action by Joan Mueller (St. Anthony’s Messenger Press, soft cover, $11.95 each).

“Shall we accept merely what is good from God and not accept also what is bad?” (Job 2:10).

Since he first courageously formulated it, Job’s question has been asked again and again by human beings finding it difficult to embrace pain and suffering. Catholics have found inspiration in Job’s unwavering loyalty and love for God and have tried to imitate his lack of hatred and anger.

Book on Taizé life explains it all

{mosimage}A Community Called Taizé by Jason Brian Santos (InterVarsity Press, 203 pages, softcover, $16.99).

A Community Called Taizé teaches the reader the history of Taizé, an ecumenical community in the Burgundy region of France.

This well-written history, by Jason Brian Santos, begins by explaining the author’s arrival in Taizé in 2005 and how he adapts to the unfamiliar community. Taizé is a community of prayer, worship and reconciliation where Christians from all over the world are welcome to visit. Taizé prayers consist of music and worship sung in various languages, with lyrics inspired by the simple phrases from psalms and other Scripture.

Street art goes Main Street

{mosimage}TORONTO - As you peer through the keyhole, the silent memorial begins. More than 400 names of homeless people who have died on Toronto’s streets flash across the screen inside the graffiti-adorned house, one after the other.

This is the work of “Other,” also known as Montreal street artist Derek Mehaffey. It’s part of the first major street art exhibit at a Canadian museum.

Getting to know the human Jesus

{mosimage}Who on Earth was Jesus? The Modern Quest for the Jesus of History by David Boulton (O Books, softcover,  417 pages, $29.95).

There is perhaps no area of modern theology as controversial and polarized as the study of the historical Jesus — what can be known about Jesus using standard historical research. There are those for whom the Gospels are essentially biographies of Jesus and historically beyond questioning. There are others who emphasize the editorial history of the Gospels and the apparent inconsistencies and errors of fact within them. These latter scholars often conclude the Gospels hold little, if any, real historical value. Of course there is an entire spectrum of opinions in between.

Bringing saints to dinner table

{mosimage}Saints at the Dinner Table, by Amy Heyd (St. Anthony Messenger Press, hard cover, 158 pages, $24.83).

If you could choose a saint, any saint, to invite to your family dinner, who would it be?

St. Joseph might be a strong contender, or how about St. Martha, or St. Clare of Assisi? Would you have lamb chops and garlic mashed potatoes, a simple but fun pizza or scrumptious chicken saltimbocca with salad on the side?  

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.