The 2007 Toronto International Film Festival was a huge, happy party from start to finish. It was a mix of gala screenings, sightings of Brad and Angelina, stylish cocktail parties and non-stop schmoozing and gossiping by people in the movie industry. It was one of those events that makes you feel good about our town, and about our moxie when it comes to hosting big cultural conclaves.

CNN religion series is way off the mark

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God’s Warriors, the six-hour CNN special report broadcast over three evenings in late August, was promoted as an even-handed look at the evil that Jewish, Christian and Islamic militants are promoting in the name of God. Hosted by Iranian-born reporter Christiane Amanpour, a CNN heavyweight, the series purported to document the dark taste for violence in all three religions with roots in Holy Scripture, and, by implication, the violence of biblical religion itself.

Greening our sacred spaces

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The serenely modern Catholic Church of St. Joan of Arc, on Bloor Street West in the High Park neighbourhood, was one of Toronto’s earliest post-Vatican II ecclesiastical settings designed to accommodate the reformed liturgy initiated by the council.

The timelessness of Ingmar Bergman

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{mosimage}When death came for Swedish film and theatre director Ingmar Bergman in late July, it found a lonely old man living on a desolate island, whose most important accomplishments in art lay far in the past. He still had numerous fans, as we were reminded by the outpouring of tributes. But despite the polite homage often paid him by younger directors, he had no followers in Scandinavia or anywhere else.

Poet issues a plea for beauty in the modern city

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{mosimage}In recent years, the world has witnessed a remarkable upsurge of popular interest in cities. Architects, planners and myriad ordinary citizens are talking, as never before, about what makes cities work and what can be done to make them work better. The topics of this optimistic discussion are wide-ranging; they include sustainability and transportation, the problems and opportunities of suburban development and the enhancement of the public realm.

Church architecture out of the ordinary

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{mosimage}Though design is an important part of it, Toronto’s 21st century wave of new cultural buildings is about more than just architecture. It’s also about city-building: how best to create an urban complex that is beautiful and liveable, and that serves the millions who live here. Each of the new structures we see going up suggests a different approach to this crucial task.

ROM’s Crystal mingles heart, mind

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Daniel Libeskind’s $135-million addition to the Royal Ontario Museum , which opened earlier this month at the corner of University Avenue and Bloor Street West, is the most controversial architectural project ever to go up in Toronto. It has set critic against critic, sharply divided the architectural community and provoked some praise and a great deal of condemnation from citizens.

Russia’s religious challenge

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The suffering imposed on Christians by the Communist regime of the now-vanished Soviet Union was one of the tragedies of the tormented 20th century. The clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church were humiliated and co-opted by the Stalinists. Scandalized by the compromises of the Moscow patriarchate with Communism, many Russian Orthodox believers in exile cut themselves off from their mother church in the 1920s, initiating decades of hostility and suspicion on both sides.

Christian minority faces persecution in Turkey

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St. Paul’s splendid image of the church as the Body of Christ reminds us that all Christians suffer when even the smallest part of the Body is injured. It is this New Testament insight into the nature of the church that explains, at least in part, the pain and concern felt among Christians everywhere about our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Turkey.

The inevitable question: why?

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Almost exactly seven years ago, in April 2000, I was sent by the newspaper I worked for to Columbine, Colorado, to report on the first anniversary of the high-school shooting rampage that left 12 students and a teacher dead and 23 people injured. It was a harrowing assignment. I found the citizens of this affluent Denver suburb of high earners and hard workers still in shock, battering themselves and each other with the inevitable question: Why?

Debunking some of the atheistic secularists

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New books bent on discrediting religious belief and practice are never in short supply. But in the last couple of years we have witnessed a mini-boom in anti-religious publishing of the classic, interesting sort — ferociously opinionated, high-minded, inclined to view Christianity as something very dangerous. The basic arguments may be rather shop-worn, but they are stated in compelling and sometimes surprising new ways.