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November 18th, 2010
03:58 PM ET

Bad boy rapper Shyne goes kosher

Editor's Note: CNN's Kevin Flower files this report on CNN's Inside the Middle East Blog.

It's late afternoon in Jerusalem and Moses Levi is making one of his frequent visits to the Western Wall.

"They say this is where the presence of God is," Levi says as he ambles across the plaza of Judaism's holiest site, a mere stone's throw away from Islam's sacred al-Aqsa Mosque.

"That's why you have Muslims here, Christians here, and obviously you have the Israelites here.  When everybody disagrees about everything, they agree about one thing:  that this is where they need to come to pray."

Like many of the worshippers there, he is dressed in traditional garb – a silver-striped silk robe, black knee-length pants, a white knit skullcap, and specially knotted fringes dangling from the sides of his legs.

In many ways, Levi is indistinguishable from the thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews who call Jerusalem home.  The only hint of something unusual is the Kurt Cobain T-shirt he wears under the robe, the black Ray-Ban sunglasses, and the signs of recognition on the faces of tourists passing by.

Levi is, in fact, far from your standard ultra-orthodox adherent to the Jewish faith.

He was born in Belize as Jamaal Barrow, the out-of-wedlock son whose father is now the country's prime minister.  At the age of seven, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, with his mother, and grew up in a hardscrabble urban setting.

It was on the streets of Flatbush that Levi took up rhyming, eventually becoming the hard-core gangster rapper known as "Shyne."  The up-and-coming hip-hop artist's career came to an abrupt halt after a 1999 New York City nightclub shooting incident also involving rap impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs and his then-girlfriend, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Israel • Judaism • Kosher

November 18th, 2010
02:30 PM ET

Family waits to see if mother, accused of blasphemy, will be hanged

Editor's Note: CNN's Reza Sayah files this report from Itan Wali, Pakistan.

In this village in Pakistan's Punjab province a tearful 12-year-old girl ponders if the Pakistani government will soon hang her mother.

"Whenever I see her picture I cry," Isham Masih told CNN. "I want my mother back. That's what I'm praying for."

This month a Pakistani court sentenced Isham's mother, 45-year-old Asia Bibi, to death, not because she killed, injured or stole, but simply because she said something.

Prosecutors say Bibi, who is a Christian, broke Pakistan's strict blasphemy law by insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment according to Pakistan's penal code.

The alleged incident happened in June 2009 when Bibi, a field worker, was picking fruit in a village two hours west of Lahore. Prosecutors say when Bibi dipped her cup into a bucket of drinking water during a lunch break, her co-workers complained the water had been contaminated by a non-Muslim.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Christianity • Courts • Faith Now • Islam • Muslim • Pakistan

Pastor: Facebook is encouraging adultery
November 18th, 2010
01:20 PM ET

Pastor: Facebook is encouraging adultery

A New Jersey pastor is asking married  members at his church to delete their Facebook accounts because he says it encourages adultery.

The Rev. Cedric Miller of Neptune  made the demand after 20 couples at his church ran into difficulties after a spouse reunited with an old love interest, the Los Angeles Times reported in an article.

The article, which quotes an Associated Press story, says Miller had asked married couples in his church to share their Facebook passwords with spouses, but couples still ran into problems.

Miller, pastor at the Living Word Christian Fellowship church, says he’s now demanding that 50 married church leaders delete their Facebook accounts or resign.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Ethics • Faith Now • News media • Pastors

Chris Tomlin tries to avoid 'status quo' with new CD
November 18th, 2010
11:08 AM ET

Chris Tomlin tries to avoid 'status quo' with new CD

People kept telling Chris Tomlin, one of the most popular songwriters in Christian music, that he needed to work together with another songwriter named Jason Ingram.

After several people made the suggestion, Tomlin texted Ingram one day and said, "I hear we need to get together and write. You must be the deal."

So the two set up a time to meet and Tomlin said he'd drive up to Nashville from his home in an Atlanta suburb, about a four-hour trip.

"It was the most amazing writing day of our lives," Tomlin said recently on the porch of the house that houses his recording studio in Johns Creek, Georgia.

FULL POST

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Faith Now • Music

The theology of Facebook, an online 'altar'
November 18th, 2010
10:56 AM ET

The theology of Facebook, an online 'altar'

Editors Note: Omar L. Gallaga is a technology contributor to NPR's All Tech Considered segment on "All Things Considered." He writes about technology for the Austin American-Statesman and for the newspaper's tech blog, Digital Savant.

By Omar L. Gallaga, Special to CNN

I grew up an Air Force brat who typically moved to a new place every three years. I switched schools, made friends, then had to write letters to stay in touch when I inevitably left. Except for a precious few, most of those friends went away forever, lost to memory, fading and eventually anonymous in aging photos.

But in the recurring dreams I had in my teenage years, they were all together. My friends from Oklahoma went to school with my classmates in Biloxi, Mississippi. My favorite teacher from my years in Germany got to see me grow up alongside my cousins from South Texas.

It wasn't until many years later, when Facebook shot past its first 100 million users, that I began to get that sensation again, the one most frequent users are now well familiar with. It's that sense of worlds colliding, of unlikely paths crossing; your work life, home life, past life and present all mashing together, commented upon and decorated with photos from here and from there, from then and in the now.

Facebook's enormous membership makes it a more likely spot than any other place on the English-language Web to connect with a multitude of family members, friends, former co-workers, old classmates and anyone else you haven't seen in the flesh for decades.

Read the full story here at CNN.com/tech.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith Now • Technology

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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