Arts

Toronto artist paints papal picture

{mosimage}TORONTO - Toronto’s Dr. Suan Seh Foo presented Pope Benedict XVI with a portrait he had painted of the pontiff at a private audience at the Vatican last December.

Afghanistan's moral reality

{mosimage}The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan by Robert D. Crews and Amin Tarzi eds. (Harvard University Press, hard cover, 430 pages, $30).

If Canada is going to have a debate about what its soldiers are doing in Afghanistan, or what Canada as a country should be doing in Afghanistan, that debate need not be conducted on the basis of vague mythology.

Oscar nominees: Forgive us our sins

{mosimage}It’s always a mistake to imagine we know exactly what original sin is. Narrowing it down to illicit sex, lies, greed, violence etc. narrows down our humanity and tempts us to imagine that by some heroic effort or stroke of genius or act of contrition we might make it all right, take back that original sin, undo the fall.

A Jewish take on sanctity of life

{mosimage}The Sanctity of Human Life by David Novak (Georgetown University Press, 186 pages, hardcover, $35).

Rabbi David Novak is a professor of religion and philosophy at the University of Toronto. His doctoral degree (and his publisher) are from Georgetown University, a Jesuit university in Washington, D.C. Readers who appreciate erudite arguments and rigourous scholarship will be interested in this book, which explores from a Jewish point of view some of the same topics as Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

A simple book fails through its simplicity

 …Here comes a sea followed by an ocean…: Very simple reflections on the Second Vatican Council, after 40 years, by Fr. Gianni Carparelli (Caritas Project Publishing, softcover, 179 pages, $15.00 by phone at 416-294-2327)

A book praising Vatican II should prosper. Unfortunately, this one might be hurt because its reflections on Vatican II are not just “very simple,” as the title says, but too simple and fragmented. These reflections have also been marred by careless editing. 

Struggle to be family

{mosimage}One of the most useless and common complaints about the movies is that they’re not like real life. It’s like complaining that the water is wet, or exercise makes you tired.

God and the battle between mind and brain

{mosimage}The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary (HarperCollins, 368 pages, hardcover, $31.50).

Materialists are legion in the universities, and it is a favourite sport of materialists to make fun of us credulous people who believe in God. Materialists, especially the 19-year-olds, are amazed that religious people even bother to go to university. What materialists don’t realize, of course, is that materialism is itself a belief system whose claims have not been scientifically verified.

Fouling the message with the method

{mosimage}Journeys to the Heart of  Catholicism, by Ted Schmidt (Seraphim Editions, softcover, 200 pages, $19.95).

I am the mother of teenagers and, according to my kids, doing a pretty lousy job. So bad, in fact, that I turned to the experts and bought some parenting books. One in particular gave me some very practical advice that I am trying (unsuccessfully) to follow: If shouting doesn’t work, shouting louder really won’t either. There were certain times while reading Journeys to the Heart of Catholicsm I felt like saying to Teddy Schmidt — “Stop shouting.”

Catholic poet captures essence of the city

{mosimage}Blaise Moritz’s poems recall an age when honest work gave shape and meaning to life. Moritz deals in both nostalgia and hope and, infused with a desire for justice, he is not afraid to deliver a barb where a barb is due.

Golden Compass controversy grows in Catholic circles

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - The movie The Golden Compass has prompted a blizzard of words assailing the movie and the books on which it is based, as well as defences of the film.

Juno has strong pro-life message

The titular Juno is an unwed teen (a marvelous performance by young Ellen Page) who finds herself pregnant after, more or less, seducing her shy classmate Paulie (Michael Cera).

Roche looks at the bright side of life

Global Conscience by Douglas Roche (Novalis, softcover, 208 pages, $22.95).

{mosimage}When we think about the state of the world today, it’s difficult to ward off encroaching despair. The deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan haunt us. We worry about developments in Pakistan and Burma. Almost daily, there are warnings about the shrinking polar ice cap. Meanwhile, homeless people sleep rough on Canadian streets.

Faith expressed in art

{mosimage}AURORA, Ont. - The new sculpture in the middle of the atrium at the York Catholic District School Board’s offices in Aurora is a train wreck of Pentecost and Passion — a looming three metres of twisted bronze with fingers, doves, crosses, flames and one giant spike through Christ’s palm emerging from a sculpture that seems to move up toward the skylight in the ceiling.