Church architecture out of the ordinary

{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

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

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

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?

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

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.

Easter promises us that we are being renewed in Jesus

With the coming of Easter, the calls for conversion we Christians heard so often during Lent are naturally heard less. The mind of the church turns to other things: the victory of Jesus over death, the coming of His Spirit, the inauguration of the Kingdom of  God as a radical new reality in the life of humankind.

Brave, new world is not that far off

When I first read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1960, this ironic novel from 1932 about the distant future had been around for a little over 25 years. But already its predictions seemed to be coming true, at least in the affluent North American society in which I lived as a young man.

There’s plenty of room for more

Last month in Ottawa, the Anglican Catholic Church — not to be confused with either the Anglican Church of Canada or the Catholic Church — consecrated two new bishops. According to all reports, it was a moment of celebration for the small denomination, which, some 30 years ago, split off from mainstream Anglicanism over the ordination of women.

Liturgy of the Hours a treasure in our midst

Among the initiatives of the Second Vatican Council aimed at making the church’s ancient rites more accessible to God’s people, the reforms and translations of the Mass have been the most successful, as well as the most controversial. Less successful, however, have been the attempts to bring the Liturgy of the Hours — the church’s majestic daily prayer — out of the cloister and the priest’s study and into the daily life of Christians.

A case of too little too late

As one of those who opposed U.S. military intervention in Iraq from the outset of this adventure four years ago, I would have liked the quick official response of the American Catholic bishops to President George Bush's recent decision to boost U.S. military force in Iraq to go further than it did, and declare the intervention to be immoral at its very core. As it stands, however, the statement issued on Jan. 12 by Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is wise and sensible counsel about the extraordinarily difficult situation faced by the Western principals in the conflict.