CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Margaret Lindsay Holton.

Toronto, Image Publishing, c1983.
Distributed by Image Publishing, 752 King St. E., Hamilton, ON, L8M 1A5.
336pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-9691362-0-X.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Louise Griffith.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

In his foreword, David Crombie, an ex-mayor of Toronto, writes, 'The spirit of Toronto is the creative Toronto paradox, a more than usual respect for stability and order and an extraordinary willingness to celebrate differences and extend tolerance." This book might more accurately be titled The Religions of Toronto as it consists of thirty-one essays on the various religions found in Metro Toronto. A member of each sect or faith was asked to write a three to five thousand word essay on his or her own religion. Each deals with three aspects of the faith. "Origin" tells of the appearance and growth of the faith in Toronto, something of the founding, and also of the situation today. The second section on belief outlines the tenets and practices of the group, and the third, "Contemporary Community Activity," explains what outreach or social services the group provides in Toronto, and sometimes elsewhere, at the present time.

The writers are prominent members of their faith groups; Right Reverend Clarke MacDonald, Moderator, writes of the United Church, Archbishop Garnsworthy describes the Anglicans, and Rev. Alex Zeidman of the Scott Mission discusses mission work.

The good feature of the book is that there are a number of relatively small faith groups that are included in the book. Readers who are interested in the faith of their neighbours have here a source of readily accessible information presented by one well versed in each particular belief. The faiths represented include those of many newcomers to Toronto including those of the Taoists, Rastafarians, Amerindians, Krishna Consciousness, Church of Scientology, and Swedenborgian faiths as well as the more traditional groups like Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Buddhist, Presbyterian, Hindu, Moslem, and Quaker. The information, written by scholars of each faith, is clear and well organized and would be suitable for high school students or adults.

The weakness of the book is that each article is written by a devotee of the faith who, of course, finds it impossible to be objective about any shortcomings of the group. Comparisons between groups are difficult because the various writers emphasized strengths and ignored gaps or weaknesses. While one might wish for another volume on the same topic that might accurately and objectively assess the actual contribution made to Toronto by each group, we have here a valuable collection of essays on a significant part of the life and spirit of Toronto. Some of the information on denominational growth, splits, and church building is not readily available from any other source. It is good that the editor has encouraged the writing down of oral traditions now starting to fade in the memory of older folk.

Obviously written as part of Toronto's Sesquicentennial enthusiasm, this volume should find a place in school and public libraries to aid Torontonians and others to understand the religions of their neighbours.

Louise Griffith, Agincourt, ON.
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