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Arts

Into the future, darkly

{mosimage}Emerging from the Dark Age Ahead: The Future of the North American Church, by Charles Fensham (Novalis, softcover, 226 pages, $24.94 list).

If Donald Rumsfeld was good for anything, it was savage mockery of pessimistic liberals. “Henny Penny the sky is falling,” he once jeered to their flagellations. “Sometimes even liberals themselves tire of liberal negativity.”

The planetary secrets of C.S. Lewis

{mosimage}Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Michael Ward (Oxford University Press, 347 pages, hardcover, $31.95).

Planet Narnia is one of the most creative works of scholarship I have read since I fled the murky world of graduate studies in English literature. Michael Ward sets before us one of the great mysteries of C.S. Lewis studies, i.e. what is the underlying unity among the seven Narnia stories, and solves it. It’s the kind of thing that makes a rival PhD student throw her laptop across the room and take to drink. Ward has made a brilliant discovery.

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Today’s composers rarely write for liturgical reasons

{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic composers today fall into two categories: those who write for liturgy, and those who don’t. James MacMillan, a world-renowned Scottish composer and conductor, spoke about this in a lecture on “The Catholic Composer Today” at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto April 8.

Street Kings is self-delusional

{mosimage}A lot of very smart people in command of rare skills, incredible technology and huge amounts of money have once again made an absurd movie — a numbingly violent, cops-versus-the-social-ills-of-America fantasy that makes no sense and bears no relationship with real people or the real world.

Canadian composer arranges hymn for papal Mass

{mosimage}On April 20, New York’s famed Yankee Stadium will echo with a Canadian-arranged hymn quite unlike any baseball tunes.

“The Feast of Victory,” arranged by a composer from New Brunswick, will resonate during Communion for the concluding Mass of Pope Benedict XVI’s first papal visit to the United States.

Christ has implications in today's politics

{mosimage}Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw (Zondervan, 355 pages, softcover, $19.99).

If Christianity isn’t radical, isn’t subversive, isn’t dangerous and can’t get you into trouble it isn’t really following Christ. The established powers of Roman-occupied Palestine tortured and killed Jesus for a reason. It wasn’t because he was a safe, earnest, harmless reformer.

The progression of Orthodoxy

{mosimage}Encountering the Mystery: Perennial Values of the Orthodox Church by Patriarch Bartholomew I  (Doubleday, 254 pages, hardcover, $25).

Before reading Encountering the Mystery, I could not have told you the name of the patriarch of Constantinople, but still considered myself adequately informed about the history and practices of Orthodox Christianity. I understood the Orthodox Church to be truly ancient in both the commendable and the less welcome senses of the term — faithfully continuing the apostolic tradition in a way that has avoided innovation for many centuries.

Bella to open across Canada

{mosimage}TORONTO - Bella, a small movie that has been making big waves everywhere from the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the 2007 People’s Choice Award, to church halls where it has been showing in recent months, is finally coming to commercial movie screens across Canada.

A new look at international development

{mosimage}Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail by Paul Polak (BK Currents, hardcover, 232 pages, $32).

Paul Polak is convinced he has found the solution to help some 800 million dollar-a-day farmers climb out of poverty. So, he wrote a book about it for all to learn: Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.

Tolle's 'New 'Earth' pains the body

{mosimage}A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (Plume, 315 pages, $15.50).

A New Earth has attracted notoriety thanks to the patronage of TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey. It is a profoundly non-Christian book that exploits the Holy Name of Jesus to bamboozle Oprah’s mostly Christian audience.

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You must read 'I Don't Believe in Atheists'

{mosimage}I Don’t Believe in Atheists, by Chris Hedges (Anansi, 224 pages, $24.95 hardcover).

It’s the emphasis on sin and the direct link with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that makes you sit up with a start while reading Chris Hedges' new book, I Don’t Believe in Atheists. The honest and exquisitely argued linkage creates that magical compulsion to seek out others so you can read them an excerpt. It is a pleasure too seldom found in a book, let alone one that wants to argue that scientists can be more fundamentalist than arch creationists.

Great minds don't always get it right

{mosimage}The Lost Massey Lectures: Recovered Classics from Five Great Thinkers, introduction by Bernie Lucht (Anansi, 399 pages, $24.95 softcover).

In 1965 a single computer filled the space of a commodious living room. In 1966 we had not yet landed on the moon, let alone invented the Internet. In 1967 rock icons Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were still alive, though not for much longer. In 1979 reality TV was the evening news. In 1983 there was such a thing as a Cold War and we were still fighting it.

Generosity is the art of living right

{mosimage}Being Generous: The Art of Right Living by Lucinda Vardey and John Dalla Costa (Knopf Canada, hardcover, 320 pages, $25).

The title of this book caught my eye. I had to stop and ponder what I understood by the expression “being generous.” I discovered, as the authors so clearly point out, that I had a very limited notion of this very rich and transforming phrase.