Note: Registration or subscription to the host news sites may be required to read some of the stories linked here.
Stories about The Golden Compass:
Kidman the icy queen of evil
‘She loves herself and hates herself at the same time,’ she says of the diabolical Mrs. Coulter
This film’s heavy doses of blood and violence push the boundaries of what’s acceptable in kids’ entertainment
Katherine Monk, CanWest News Service, December 7
The Golden Compass suffers from the same problem as Stardust, that other recent story of a steampunk parallel universe: Too much plot. You can’t blame the source material — rich and well-loved novels by Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman, respectively — but perhaps filmmakers need to step back and question the recent ethos of “let’s make it because we can.” By the time we’ve met the major characters, their attendant daemons (a kind of spirit companion in animal form), the witches, the armoured bears, the aeronaut, the Tartars, the evil members of the Magisterium and the dons of Oxford, the final credits are beginning to roll.
Chris Knight, National Post, December 7
The Golden Compass also stirs up some dubious spelling that indicates the low level of debate from Christians under siege
Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, December 8
It is similar to a concept known as “panexperientialism,” originated by the late Harvard philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Both panpsychism and panexperientialism teach that every living thing in the universe, including an atom, is a ball of energy, reflecting, albeit often in minor ways, human consciousness. Even though Pullman says he’s an atheist, many people who follow panexperientalism are spiritual people, and include some Christians. They believe the God of the Bible is like a divine force field luring all organisms towards greater beauty, complexity and love.
Douglas Todd, The Search, Vancouver Sun, December 8
Earlier: Stories about The Golden Compass
Stories about Mitt Romney and Mormonism:
Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith will be a significant impediment to winning over the major political bloc likely to determine who will be the Republican nominee for president next year. White evangelicals, more than any other group, have difficulties with Mor-monism and without their support Mr. Romney will have a difficult fight. In a survey conducted in August, the Washington-based Pew Research Center found 39% of evangelicals hold an unfavourable view of Mormons, while one in four Americans overall expressed concerns about voting for a Mormon for president.
National Post, December 7
It’s right there in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” And yet, for 25 minutes yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sounded very much like someone being forced — by political reality, if not U.S. law — to prove he met a religious standard to win his party’s nomination.
Sheldon Alberts, National Post, December 7
It was meant to be Mitt Romney’s JFK moment. Just as John F. Kennedy spoke of his Catholic faith to Americans in 1960, Romney on Thursday sought to dispel the belief among some Republican voters that his Mormon beliefs should disqualify him from the White House.
Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service, December 7
Mr. Romney is in trouble. His candidacy has been undermined by a sudden revival of morale and determination from the religious right. A movement that was, by its own admission, divided and dispirited mere months ago, has been galvanized in Iowa by the surging campaign of Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and an ordained Baptist minister. Evangelicals are fleeing Mr. Romney’s campaign, which had never generated any real enthusiasm among them – they mistrust his recent conversion on the defining issues of abortion, gay rights and gun control, and consider his Mormon religion more cult than faith. Instead, they are embracing Mr. Huckabee, once seen as too dark a horse but now a front-runner in Iowa. To win them back and rescue his campaign, Mr. Romney decided to demonstrate that he defers to no man when it comes to religious zeal.
John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail, December 7
Lately, Christopher Hitchens has been a one-man hit squad against Mitt Romney. As anyone who’s read Hitchens’ best-seller God Is Not Great can attest, the guy hates all religions. But he has an especially buzzy bee in his bonnet about Mormonism.
Jonathan Kay, National Post, December 10
Stories about Islam and the West:
But Muslim Canadian Congress defends Maclean’s freedom of expression
CBC News, December 5
It looks like laundry day in a mourning Victorian household. I’ve got a large pile of black fabric in front of me, which I have to sort into cloaks, gloves and headcoverings. Once separated, I have to figure out how to put them on. The cloak (abaya) seems straightforward enough: It could double as a vampire cape for Halloween. I find the armholes in the folds, and wrap the whole thing around my shoulders. It drapes down to my ankles. As I turn before the mirror, I notice goiter-like bumps at my hips. Oh great — this is going to be even more flattering than I thought! But surely this can’t be right?
Danielle Crittenden, National Post, December 6
Life in a burka isn’t so bad — except when eating, drinking, walking and exercising
Danielle Crittenden, National Post, December 7
The right to free expression of opinion and belief — though constrained in its extremes during wartime — is not something that can be negotiated in a free country. For it is the most fundamental right — the queen bee in the hive, as it were. Every other freedom depends on this freedom. Take it away, and we no longer have a free country… I make this point in light of the case that has been brought against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine, before Human Rights Commissions for Canada, British Columbia, and Ontario, by the Canadian Islamic Congress, led by Mohamed Elmasry. The first two commissions have already agreed to hear the case, and thus rule on whether Mark Steyn had the right to express the opinions and beliefs in his bestselling book, America Alone, and specifically in the excerpt entitled, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” which ran in Maclean’s last year. According to the complaint, by expressing his opinions and beliefs, Mark Steyn “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and Islamophobia.” That not all Muslims agree, has been made clear by members of the Muslim Canadian Congress, who have entered the fray in defence of Steyn and Maclean’s. But that is a tactical side issue.
David Warren, Ottawa Citizen, December 9
A 16-year-old girl died in hospital late Monday night, hours after police in Mississauga received a call from a man saying he had killed his daughter. Muhammad Parvez, 57, has been charged with murder in connection with the death of his daughter, Aqsa Parvez. He will appear Tuesday in a Brampton court.
Globe and Mail, December 11
A slain Muslim teen whose father has been charged with murder apparently chafed at the prospect of wearing traditional religious garb, but members of the Islamic community warn against anyone using the tragedy to vilify the head scarf known as the hijab. Aqsa Parvez, 16, of Mississauga, Ont., was rushed to hospital Monday in critical condition after a man made a 911 call in which he claimed to have killed his daughter. Parvez died late Monday night in hospital.
Canadian Press, December 11
Aqsa Parvez was a well-liked Muslim girl who, classmates say, had been experimenting for months with the arrangement of her hijab. She finally decided to go without the Islamic head scarf, which is worn by some Muslim women, in September. It was a gradual change classmates say they were indifferent toward, but one which some members of her family had difficulty accepting.
National Post, December 11
Also: Vancouver Sun
Whenever a girl dies at the tender age of 16, it’s a tragedy. But the death of Mississauga, Ont. teenager Aqsa Parvez, many fear, may represent something more: a sign that the loathsome and barbaric practice of Muslim “honour killings” is making its way from South Asia and the Middle East to Canada.
Jonathan Kay, National Post, December 11
A cab driver has been charged with murdering his 16-year-old daughter after she was allegedly attacked in a clash with her strict Muslim family over whether or not to wear the hijab, the traditional Islamic head scarf for women.
National Post, December 12
Also: Vancouver Sun
No bail for slain teen’s father as homicide detectives continue to gather evidence
Toronto Star, December 12
She wanted to be like any other teenage girl. Aqsa Parvez, 16, who died Monday night after being attacked in her Mississauga home, wanted to hang out with friends instead of obeying her 5 p.m. curfew. She wanted to listen to rap, hip hop and R & B, which her parents didn’t permit. Vivacious and outgoing, Parvez wanted to dress like a Western woman in tight-fitting clothes and show off her long, dark hair by removing her hijab. She wanted to be “free” and independent of her family’s devout Muslim beliefs. But that was a problem.
Toronto Star, December 12
They have come to her with bruises; beaten at home for talking to a boy, or for getting a poor mark, or for coming home too long after the school bell rang. For guidance counsellor Ronna Stulberg of Toronto’s Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute, helping immigrant girls bridge the gap between their parents’ Old World values and Western teen culture is almost a full-time job.
Toronto Star, December 12
Every day, young Muslims seek out Munir El-Kassem with questions. Questions about faith. Questions about love. But mainly, questions about clothes.
Globe and Mail, December 12
While the adjustment may be difficult for parents, it’s also tough for teenagers who feel torn between preserving their parents’ culture and embracing their new one. Friends say this is the argument that may have led to the death of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez. The Mississauga teen was slain in the family home Monday morning. Her father is in police custody and will appear in court today.
Toronto Star, December 12
A man from Mississauga, Ont., charged with murder in the death of his daughter has been denied bail. Muhammad Parvez, 57, appeared in a Brampton, Ont., court today and was remanded in custody pending his next court date on Jan. 29, 2008.
Canadian Press, December 12
The tragic death of a Mississauga, Ont., teenage girl — allegedly at the hands of her own traditionally minded Muslim father — has sent shock waves across the world. Canadians are justified in raising concerns as to whether this is a sign of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in their own backyard.
Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan, National Post, December 12
We have this week two news items of tragedies involving girl victims. Both will serve to reinforce the belief of many Canadians — count me in — that the alliance of feminism with multiculturalism has created a two-tier sisterhood.
Barbara Kay, National Post, December 12
Earlier: Stories about Islam and the West
Stories about religious minorities in Quebec:
That’s a weird commission in Quebec, the one on hate, whoops, I mean “reasonable accommodation.” Premier Jean Charest set it up after some “incidents”: frosted glass on the windows at the YMCA so Orthodox Jews wouldn’t see the spandex; something about the cost impact on shoppers of kosher food; a town council that passed bylaws disallowing death by stoning.
Rick Salutin, Globe and Mail, December 7
The Quebec Liberals are proposing to make immigrants to the province sign a so-called moral commitment to Quebec values. Party officials told a news conference in Montreal today that such values include secularism and a French-speaking culture.
Canadian Press, December 9
Canadian-style multiculturalism poses a grave threat to Quebec culture, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe told Quebec’s travelling commission on integrating minorities on Tuesday. If Canada continues to treat Quebec like every other cultural minority, the end result will be assimilation into the dominant North American English-speaking culture, Duceppe said. “Multiculturalism as a model of integration does not work in Quebec.”
Canadian Press, December 11
In the spring of 2005, Bashkim Omeri’s wife had a miscarriage in a Montreal hospital. He was told that her blood type was A-positive and that she needed “immunoprophylactic treatment.” According to hospital officials, Albanian-born Mr. Omeri misunderstood them and thought his wife was HIV-positive. A week later the 36-year-old immigrant died after he threw himself before a truck. His was one of four cases Quebec coroner Jacques Ramsay made public yesterday to underline that accommodating immigrants with different cultures and languages is not trivial, but sometimes a matter of life and death.
Globe and Mail, December 11
What’s your view on multiculturalism? Is it a failed policy of the past? Or an indispensable part of our future? Ms. Jimenez was online and took questions on her essay and on related issues.
Marina Jimenez, Globe and Mail, December 11
Two prominent Quebec separatists had the spotlight yesterday at hearings into the “reasonable accommodation” of minorities, and their presentations amounted to an unintended good-cop, bad-cop routine. The good cop was Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc Quebecois leader, who offered an all-encompassing definition of Quebecers and said the seriousness of Quebec’s identity crisis has been overblown. . . . Enter the bad cop, Jean-Francois Lisee, former advisor to Parti Quebecois premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.
Graeme Hamilton, National Post, December 12
Other stories from the past week:
Having a gospel gig at a casino showroom seems a bit unusual. But Jim Byrnes thinks a gambling den is a great place to spread the Good Word. After all, gospel music isn’t meant to be sung just in church, it’s meant to be sung wherever the spirit moves you.
Vancouver Sun, December 6
With an anticlimactic flourish last Friday, the Alberta Human Rights Commission delivered another blow to freedom of expression in this country by concluding that Stephen Boissoin faces penalties for having exposed gays to contempt and hatred. This ruling stems from a letter written by Boissoin to the Red Deer Advocate in 2002 that took aim at homosexuality and gay activism. Boissoin claimed that gay activists were “spreading a psychological disease” and that homosexuals are “just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities.” Darren Lund, who recently attacked the Operation Christmas Child project of Samaritan’s Purse in the pages of the Calgary Herald, filed the human rights complaint against Boissoin, seeking financial compensation and a public apology that would reflect an understanding from Boissoin that his views were “inappropriate.”
Bruce Korol, Calgary Herald, December 6
Earlier: Stories about Stephen Boissoin and the “anti-gay” letter
The jingling of bells is returning to the malls. After five years of being silenced at several Vancouver-area malls, Salvation Army fundraisers will once again ring their bells during their Christmas kettle campaign.
Globe and Mail, December 7
Congrats to Reverend Joanne Sorrill. The retired United Church reverend from Whitby, Ont., stared down the petticrats at the Ministry of Transportation and made them blink.
John Turley-Ewart, Full Comment, National Post, December 7
Earlier: Stories about the minister and her license plate
Last year, The Sun published excerpts from letters Robert (Willie) Pickton sent from prison. We couldn’t print everything for fear of influencing the jury. Now we can. His shocking words provide a glimpse into what may have motivated the serial killer… The second letter, written Aug. 22, 2006, is also replete with biblical references and Pickton provided his own interpretation of Ephesians 5:5.
All this high-minded rhetoric about “conservative” versus “liberal” traditions in the Anglican Church would be sad if it weren’t so amusing. Sad because Anglicans are a progressive force in confronting intolerance and repression; amusing because the squabble signifies the merciless factionalism that typifies Christian history as much as forgiveness and brotherly love.
Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun, December 10
Earlier: Stories about the Anglican schism
The pastor of a Toronto church, who claimed to heal people by giving them spiritual baths and naked rubdowns, impregnated two young women he coerced into having sex, a prosecutor says. Frank Seeko Lawrence, 58, ordained minister of Toronto Mount Zion Revival Church of the Apostles, fathered a child by each of the women then threatened them with death when they asked for child support, assistant Crown attorney Paul Zambonini said yesterday.
Toronto Star, December 11
Rhetoric from some Sikh extremists prior to the Air India bombing was worse that that of a notorious Alberta teacher convicted of anti-Semitic hate speech, the head of the bombing inquiry said Monday.
Vancouver Sun, December 11
Prime Minis ter Stephen Harper participated in a menorah-lighting ceremony on Parliament Hill yesterday to celebrate the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Last year, there were a record 11,000 public menorah-lighting ceremonies in cities around the world.
CanWest News Service, December 12
Samuel Golubchuk is 84 years old, has suffered a brain injury, can’t walk, speak or eat on his own, needs a ventilator to breathe and is retaining 10 times the water of a normal intensive-care patient. Doctors say that, barring divine intervention, it’s only a matter of time before he dies, and after four weeks in intensive care with no improvement, they want to remove the breathing apparatus keeping him alive. His son and daughter say that constitutes assault, and a violation of their Orthodox Jewish religious beliefs.
Globe and Mail, December 12
The story so far: This spring, four patients of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute with end-stage heart failure were hoping a heart transplant would save their lives. By fall, Jack Quinte and Brian Wilson have had transplants. Sharon Quesnel has become so sick that she is off the transplant list. Lorne Maddeaux has recovered from bleeding between his skull and his brain and has been discharged from the Heart Institute to wait at home for a heart.
Ottawa Citizen, December 12