Arts and Culture

Knitting nonagenarian

Mary McDonald, 96, is a veritable "knitting machine. Really. She knits continuously. She never stops."

Every day, McDonald's clicking needles turn out thick, warm mittens and hats for London, Ont.'s, homeless. Each year, she donates boxes and boxes of finely wrought winter wear for people ages two to 92 to the Hospitality/Out of the Cold program at London's St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.

“I feel like a little kid at Christmas.” Drew Brown’s Analog Love in Digital Times has been nominated for a Juno Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year. Photo: Seth Partridge

Anglican music director nominated for a Juno

Not many churches can say their music director is up for a Juno Award—but then, not many churches have Drew Brown working for them.

The Toronto native, who currently serves as creative arts director at Trinity Streetsville, in the diocese of Toronto, is one of five contenders in the category of Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year for his most recent release,Analog Love in Digital Times.

David Oyelowo plays Martin Luther King, with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in the film Selma. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Selma and the struggle for civil rights

"Our lives are not fully lived if we're not willing to die for those we love, for what we believe." Martin Luther King Jr. might have added that there can be no justice, equality or freedom for any of us, unless everyone can claim those things as their birthright. If some are oppressed, then we are all oppressed. Or so we would know if we were not so often blinded by our instinct to separate ourselves from "the other."
Christian Bale plays Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Film

Gods, kings and a bellicose boy

"The Lord is a man of war," says the book of Exodus, and those six words inform the new dramatization of the mass exodus of 400,000 Jews from their captivity in Egypt around 1300 BC. In Exodus: Gods and Kings God tells Moses "I need a general."

Seeing with the ‘eye of the soul’

Not many books use a potato to explain spiritual wholeness but Father Luke Bell manages to do this and more inThe Meaning of Blue: Recovering a Contemplative Spirit. As a monk-priest at Quarr Abbey on the UK's Isle of Wight, Bell is well placed to teach us about contemplation and potatoes.

Disconnect to reconnect

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Communication (winner of the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction) explores how the digital revolution now dictating so much of our day-to-day activity unfolded, what it entails for our personal and professional lives-and why we should at least try to resist the temptations constantly on offer from the blinking screens in our homes, offices and in our own pockets.
Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Archbishop Michael Peers at the book launch for the Peers memoir, More Than I Can Say. Photo: Simon Chambers

Portrait of a leader in tumultuous times

As primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, Michael Peers faced turbulence in nearly every aspect of church life.

Is religion to blame for war and violence?

Karen Armstrong's book, Fields of Blood, is an ambitious project that looks closely at the interrelationship of religion and violence.

A misfit soars on a dragon’s back: Learning from outsiders in How to Train...

Like its first-rate 2010 predecessor, the animated fantasy adventure How to Train Your Dragon 2 will bring tears of joy to the faces of those moved by the sight of a boy atop a jet-black dragon soaring into the clouds and swooping down toward the glistening sea.

Creativity in thrall to moral nihilism

The five novels (at least two more are planned) that comprise George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series defied conventional cinematic adaptation: with numerous characters, far-flung locations (everything from deserts to great cities to a wintry wasteland) and complex plots, each of the books was too involved to fit within the confines of even a long movie.

Faith across generations

To this day I can still picture myself climbing the stairs of Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall toward the balcony. It was in the highest heights of that concert hall that I encountered The Messiah for the first time. By the time I was seven or eight years old, it had become family tradition to yearly immerse ourselves in George Frideric Handel's masterpiece.

Jesus through a Muslim lens

ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth By Reza Aslan Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014 ISBN 978-0-8129-8148-3; 296 pages How credible is a book about the historical...
The film explores many prominent works of religious art in the Vatican Museum's collection. Photo: Vatican Museum

Film brings Vatican Museums to the public

In 1506, a farmer found a statue in his vineyard in Rome.

Growing up in Boyhood

The movie's opening scene is its most evocative: a five-year-old boy lies on his back upon the green grass, gazing up at the clouds passing on a blue sky, as if transfixed by a waking dream.
Visitors to the opening of Called to Serve admire some of the many vintage uniforms on display. Photo: Michael Hudson

Walking with the soldiers of solace

To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Canada's first-ever exhibition on military chaplains is under way at Toronto's Cathedral Church of St. James.