By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
CNN: Mormon linebacker helps lead Catholic Notre Dame to national championship game
It was a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter that sealed the University of Notre Dame football team's Saturday victory over the University of Southern California – and earned the No. 1-ranked team a trip to the national championship game. Leading the bruising Fighting Irish defense was senior linebacker Manti Te'o, whose play this season has earned him consideration for the Heisman Trophy and has helped lead a storied squad back to the top of college football after years of floundering. But Te'o initially struggled with the decision over whether to attend Notre Dame. The Catholic school's star linebacker is a committed Mormon.
Photo of the Day:
Photo credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
An Indian Sikh devotee plays a musical instrument as he walks with Punj Pyara holding flags of the Sikh religion as they escort a procession from Sri Akal Takhat at The Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 27, 2012 on the eve of the 543rd birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev. Guru Nanak was the founder of the religion of Sikhism and the first of ten Sikh Gurus.
Belief on TV:
Catholic News Agency: Yad Vashem honors Italian cardinal who rescued Jews
Israel’s official Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem has named the World War II-era Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa, as “Righteous Among the Nations” for his help in rescuing hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution. Yad Vashem said on Nov. 26 that the cardinal “played a central role in the organization and operation of a widespread rescue network.”
Reuters: U.N. chief says Mideast, African crises show need for interfaith amity
The violent crises in Syria, Gaza and Mali show how important it is for different religions to work together to promote understanding rather than sow hatred, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said on Monday. Addressing the opening of a new Saudi-backed interfaith centre in Vienna, he said the Syrian conflict was “taking on troubling sectarian dimensions” and “unrest (continues) between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Religion News Service: Church of England faces backlash over rejecting women bishops
When the Church of England scuttled plans to allow women bishops on Nov. 20, incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called it “a very grim day for women and their supporters.” Now, that grim day is turning into a church-state nightmare for Britain's established church. On Monday (Nov. 26), The Times of London quoted from a leaked memo to church leaders from William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod, who called the public and political fallout "severe."
The Guardian: Nigeria's future depends on how its religious groups see each other
The development of Nigeria with its population of some 150 million people, oil reserves, and an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit, is arguably critical for the future of sub-Saharan Africa. It has had more than its fair share of misfortunes: civil war, serial military coups, tyrannical military government, spectacular corruption and all the downsides of its black gold economy. But today Nigeria is facing a new challenge. It comes from the confluence of three muddy streams in our contemporary globalised world: persistent poverty in the midst of affluence, the growing power of religion to boost and legitimise political ambition, and different forms of religious extremism threatened by modernity and led into violence.
Huffington Post: Barack Obama Depicted As Jesus: 'The Truth' Painting Draws Criticism For Controversial Metaphor
A painting featuring President Barack Obama in a Christ-like pose is getting poor reviews from some religious authorities, Fox News Radio reports. The painting by New York-based artist by Michael D’Antuono is titled "The Truth" and features Obama with a crown of thorns on his head, in a position that is reminiscent of the crucifixion. Currently on display at Boston's Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery as part of D'Antuono's politically charged “Artists on the Stump – the Road to the White House 2012" collection, the piece was actually supposed to debut several years ago at New York City’s Union Square.
Reuters: Rhode Island to leave "Christmas" out of tree ceremony
Rhode Island will go ahead with plans to hold a "holiday tree" lighting ceremony in the state capital despite controversy last year over Governor Lincoln Chafee's decision to avoid using the word "Christmas" in reference to the tree. "The governor has stated his position very clearly: He believes ‘holiday' is more inclusive," spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said. "It's in a building paid for by all Rhode Islanders."
Opinion of the Day:
Police respond to a Black Friday shooting in Florida.
My Take: #GivingTuesday creates better Christmas narrative than Black Friday
Rick McKinley, pastor of the Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, and author of A Kingdom Called Desire and Advent Conspiracy discusses the Twitter movement #GivingTuesday and how its message of generosity fits into the story of Christmas and Christ’s birth.
Join the conversation…
CNN: U.S. Capitol gets official Christmas tree
The official Christmas tree of the U.S. Capitol arrived Monday and will be illuminated at a ceremony on December 4. Dozens of tourists, Capitol Hill staffers and news crews watched the tree's arrival along with Stephen Ayers, the Capitol architect. "My job is to officially accept the Capitol Christmas Tree on behalf of the Congress," he said.
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An entrepreneur is an economic agent who unites all means of production- land of one, the labour of another and the capital of yet another and thus produces a product. By selling the product in the market he pays rent of land, wages to labour, interest on capital and what remains is his profit. He shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.,,
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o We, as being but buildings do labor together and in equal measures with God and all his generations, His family members and servants and other Godly brethren inside our body-like buildings of cosmological wonders! 1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"
We were literally there in the very beginning moments of Creation itself. We live throughout timeliness upon the inner cosmos within a scale so minutely small that the immensity of things could be thought of as being but upon the head of a pin! We were and still are mostly made of Nothingness! Nothingness puts vast distances between what we know of as being neutrons, electrons and protons!
Ask any science major and they would tell you matter of factually that nothing makes up more space within the atomic cosmos then does the atoms themselves! The Seas of Nothingness reach from the innermost to the outermost ranges of cosmological aberrations! Our bodies themselves are cosmologically ordered cellular cosmologies of biogenetic wonders and marvels!
The history of multifaceted cosmological expansionism within celestial symmetries comes from the terrestrial complacencies of planetary regularities and solarized objectivism wherever the abundance of inner cosmologies coalesces to form stars, planets and moons among many other fragmented structures within the spatial confines of a universally formed Cosmos.
Lives, upon the celestial shorelines of the terrestrially compliant are biologic cellular cosmological constants, and were ever formed and are continually forming seemingly forever as being well placed living conglomerations in naturalisms arcades within wondrous cavalcades upon the many; marching in steps of melancholy tributes to God upon the most high Cosmos of universalism’s formidable formations onto the highest of the unknowable to us grounds.
The Christmas Tree: Legends, Traditions, History
TREE OF LIFE, LOVE, PEACE
Many legends and old traditions concerning the Christmas tree date back to very ancient times, but historical docu.mentation of its origins as the tree we know and decorate today only appeared in recent centuries.
There is no doubt, however, that legends and traditions show the convergence of many customs, some born outside the Christian culture and others strictly Christian. We will consider here some of the most important ones that were forerunners of the Christmas tree.
Since very ancient times even primitive people would take evergreen plants and flowers into their huts, seeing in them a magical or religious significance. The Greeks and Romans decorated their dwellings with ivy. The Celts and Scandinavians preferred mistletoe, but many other evergreen plants such as holly, butcher's broom, laurel and branches of pine or fir were considered to have magical or medicinal powers that would ward off illness. This belief was found especially among the inhabitants of the northern regions with cold climates and long, dark winters; it was almost as if these plants revived thoughts of the coming spring while everything around them lay dormant. Naturally enough, temples were built to the "goddess Flora".
St Boniface, eighth-century Bishop
An interesting tradition, part history, part legend and very popular in Germany, claims that the Christmas tree dates back to the eighth century. This legend is based on a historical figure, St Boniface, and even a historical event, the destruction of Odin's oak. St Boniface (675-754) was the English Bishop Winfrid who went to Germany in the eighth century, to Hesse to be precise, to preach the Christian faith as a missionary from the Church of Rome. After a period of apparently successful Gospel preaching, Boniface went to Rome to confer with Pope Gregory II (715-731). After a long absence, he returned to Geismar, Germany, for Christmas 723, and felt personally offended on discovering that the Germans had reverted to their former idolatry of pagan divinities and were preparing to celebrate the winter solstice by sacrificing a young man under Odin's sacred oak tree. Fired by holy anger, as was Moses by the golden calf, Bishop Boniface took up an axe and dared to cut down the oak. This courageous, historically docu.mented act meant the triumph of Christianity in Germany over the pagan divinities.
All this is historically docu.mented. The rest belongs to the legend which tells how, at the first blow of the axe, a strong gust of wind instantly brought down the tree. The astounded Germans fearfully recognized the hand of God in this event and humbly asked Boniface how they should celebrate Christmas. The Bishop, the legend continues, pointed to a small fir tree that had miraculously remained upright and intact beside the debris and broken branches of the fallen oak. Boniface was familiar with the popular custom of taking an evergreen plant into the house in winter and asked everyone to take home a fir tree. This tree signifies peace, and as an evergreen it also symbolizes immortality; with its top pointing upwards, it additionally indicates heaven, the dwelling place of God.
Another legend is consti.tuted by a famous hawthorn called the "Holy Thorn" that was found at Glastonbury Abbey in England and flowers at Christmas time. It was venerated as a "sacred relic" because a legend claims that it derived from a sprig that came from Jesus' crown of thorns.
The legendary hawthorn survived for many centuries and was honoured as a
sacred relic. This flowering bush made a contribution of its own to the idea of a tree associated with the Christmas feast day.
The choice of the date
The real date of Jesus' birth, from the historical viewpoint, lies concealed beneath a veil of uncertainty as regards Roman history, the imperial census of that time and research in the subsequent centuries. The scholar Abbot Giuseppe Ricciotti, author of the voluminous Vita di Gesù Cristo (cf. Vatican Polyglot Press, 1940), after careful research on the events of the time concludes: "We know neither the day nor the year of Jesus' birth with absolute certainty" (p. 182).
The date of 25 December, as is well known, was chosen by the Church of Rome in the fourth century. This date in pagan Rome was dedicated to the Sun god, because it is from this day that the days begin gradually to grow longer until summer.
This feast was also lively and joyful because it was combined with the Saturnalia (17-24 December) and the calends of January (1 January) that ushered in the new
year. Although Christianity had already been affirmed in Rome by an Edict of Constantine, the myth of Mithras who venerated the Sun god was still widespread, especially among soldiers. The abovementioned festivities, centred on 25 December, were deeply rooted in popular tradition.
This gave the Church of Rome the idea of impressing a Christian religious significance on the day by replacing the Sun god with the true Son of Justice, Jesus Christ, choosing it as the day on which to celebrate his birth. St John the Evangelist presents Jesus as "the true light that enlightens every man... the light [that] shines in the darkness" (cf. Jn
Hence, the Church of Rome established 25 December as the day of the Nativity of Jesus. Today, only a few Eastern Orthodox Churches hold that 6 January should be celebrated as the date of Jesus' birth, but throughout the world the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated on 25 December.
Medieval religious plays
The most important clue to the origin of the Christmas tree as we know it comes from the mystery and miracle plays, and in particular from the Tree of Good and Evil in the earthly Paradise.
These plays were first performed in the late Middle Ages and their purpose was to teach religion. It should be remembered that people in general were illiterate. To spread and to keep the faith alive, to make known the Sacred Scriptures, preaching was essential.
It was thought that acting out Bible and Gospel ep.isodes for the humbler classes would facilitate this task. As a rule, these religious plays were enacted for the celebration of an ep.isode or of the saint whom they featured, and they became popular throughout Europe. A famous play was the performance put on for holy Christmas, celebrated on 25 December.
On Christmas Eve, 24 December, Adam and Eve would be commemorated with the highly popular ep.isode of the Tree of the earthly Paradise; they would tower on the stage together with the devil, disguised as a serpent, Eve picking an apple and Adam eating it. Original sin, expiated by Jesus born on the 25th, was symbolized on the night of 24 December. The tree ought to have been an apple tree, but since an apple tree would have been inappropriate in winter, a fir tree was set on the stage and some apples put on its branches or, to symbolize the future coming of Redemption, wafers prepared with crushed biscuits in special moulds that were symbols of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, as well as sweets and gifts for children.
Even when the religious tableaux were abandoned, the Tree of Paradise continued to be associated with Christmas in many people's minds.
Between history and literature
According to Prof. Fabio Fabiani, a learned scholar as well as an excellent doctor, in his little book La storia dell'albero di Natale (The Story of the Christmas Tree), "it was only after the 18th century that the Christmas tree was featured in literature". These are his most significant citations: "The first important author to mention the Christmas tree was Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) in his famous Die Leiden des jungen Werther, published in 1774. Towards the end of his novel, his heroine, Lotte, is wrapping presents for the little ones on 20 December. It is the Sunday before Christmas and Werther, who pays her a visit, speaks '...of the happy time when the unexpected opening of a door, revealing the tree decorated all over with candles, sweetmeats and apples, can still enfold a person in joyful ecstasy'". Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) also speaks in his works of a Christmas tree.
There is no doubt that in this period fir trees decorated with lights must have been widely used throughout Germany, or at least in the big cities, and in 1798 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the great English poet who wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, having spent Christmas in Germany, described in a letter to a friend in England the enchanting beauty of many candlelit trees that he had seen in houses. In 1848, Fedor Dostoyevsky published in the September issue of Otécestvennye Zap.iski his tale "The Christmas Tree". In 1850, Charles Dickens wrote in a magazine of the marvels of the "pretty German toy", brilliantly illuminated by myriads of tiny candles.
To the works of these famous writers, Prof. Fabiani also adds The Grandmother by Bozena Nemcova, published in Paris in 1855, in which the Christmas tree in Czechoslovakia is mentioned, as well as Hans Christian Andersen's The Fir Tree and The Little Match Girl.
The birth of the Christmas tree
The most widespread opinion among scholars is that the Christmas tree as we know it today, decorated and lit with lights, derived from the tree in the earthly Paradise. As its birth place, the left bank of the Rhine is indicated, and especially Alsace. One of the earliest testimonies of this are the registers of the town of Schlettstadt (1521), in which special protection was prescribed for forests on the days prior to Christmas; forest rangers were responsible for punishing anyone who cut down a tree to decorate his house.
Another docu.ment informs us that in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, fir trees were sold in the market, to be taken home and decorated.
From Alsace, the tradition of the Christmas tree spread across Germany and the whole of Europe, and soon even arrived in North America.
Italy was one of the last countries to accept the Christmas tree, partly because of a rather widespread rumour that the use of Christmas trees was a Protestant practice and should thus be replaced by the crib. However, in Catholic Austria this rumour — declared to be unfounded even by the well-known Protestant theologian, Oscar Cullmann, in one of his writings on the Christmas tree — was not accepted, since Trent and the Venetian regions were influenced by Austrian customs as well as the availability of fir trees.
The tree in St Peter's Square
Pope Paul VI, of venerable memory, began the tradition of setting up a massive Christmas tree beside the grand crib in St Peter's Square, a gift each year from a different nation.
Referring to St Boniface's words, we can conclude that the great tree lit by numerous tiny lights can symbolize many Christian values.
In the days of yore, the primitive people used the wood of fir trees to build their huts in which they lived peacefully. Today, The Christmas tree can be the symbol of the peace that Jesus brought, that must be re-established between God and human beings. Because it is evergreen, it is the symbol of that immortality which Jesus said he possessed and would bring to us: "I am the life; those who believe in me even if they die will live". The tree lit by little lights is the symbol of the light that Jesus brought to the world with his birth: "He was the light that shines in the darkness... and enlightens every man..." (cf. Jn 1:4-14). And finally, the fir tree, with its tip pointing to heaven, indicates God's presence to us and the place where we are all awaited.
All this endows the Christmas tree, in harmony with the crib, with the religious and Christian significance of salvation that the Son of God brought to the whole world by his humble birth.
Weekly Edition in English
5 January 2005, page 10
Teach me to live that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die that so I may
Rise glorious at the awe-ful Day.
Prayer changes things
What if I don't want things changed?
Then you lose.
"Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
"Salvatore" degenerates to:
"Douglas" degenerates to:
"truth be told" degenerates to:
"Thinker23" degenerates to:
"Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
"another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
"Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
"tina" degenerates to:
"captain america" degenerates to:
"Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
"Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
"just sayin" degenerates to:
"ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
"Kindness" degenerates to:
"Chad" degenerates to
"Bob" degenerates to
"nope" degenerates to:
"2357" degenerates to:
"WOW" degenerates to:
"fred" degenerates to:
"!" degenerates to:
"John 3:16" degenerates to:
"pervert alert" is the degenerate.
This troll is not a christian.
Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.
I find religious faith and belief a human issue and so as a human I view it as a purposeful act to at least try to break the religious mindset of believers. Belief in anything lacking truth,evidence, merit, and reason is something that is a sad unnecessary counterpart to life. Most believers believe only due to the fact they were taught the lies from birth – that is contemptible and should not be viewed as worthy of respect but rather be viewed as a social disease. Facts and truth are the cures, and sadly those that believe are like children unwilling to take their medicine.
Just another "blissful" day without god(s).
Good morning Belief Blog folks! It's going to be a stormy one here, rain and thunderstorms forecast for the whole day.
I stayed up too late last night and all this rain makes me wish I were still home in my bed.
So what randomly esoteric question can I pose today?
What is bliss?
A hot bubble bath in front of a fire with a glass of wine.
Mmmm....that does sound divine!
A brand of chap stick. ;)
Bliss changes from moment to moment, defining it is like trying to catch the wind. It can be the thrill of skiing down a mountain coated in fresh snow, or it can be sitting quietly with a good book and a cat.
To be honest, the word "bliss" always makes me think of that Dove chocolate commercial.
the better question is "what would you do for bliss?"
some give up all individuality, choice, free will even – they are called the faithful.
i give up nothing and accept what i am – there i find peace, which i call bliss.
I rook for briss and crazy man try to cut winky.
The difference between a philosopher's mind and everyone else's is the ceaseless questions of life's quandary. Where others accept and go about life, we wonder how and why. From the age of reason we, thinkers, feel the burden to ask where others dare not. We do not often get answers but at times the act of questioning alone is a statement of such grand magnitude that actions are taken to change mankind and how we live due to it. Even lacking answers, we persist. We do not believe. We do not act without forethought. We live as if life was meant to be questioned and we live unknowing of what answers we will get. We never stop questioning. Atheists of every age are philosophers in their own right.
The faithful – due to having a lack of ability to think for themselves – I believe they have not yet evolved into ho.mo sapien, not even the level of ho.mo sapien idaltu. Those of us who can think for themselves have clearly achieved this evolution and so are above in the status quo of nature...And in like manner of the chimp using a stick to get the termites...We thinkers should, to our best efforts, use the tools available to us to strive tirelessly to make life better on this planet now having the power to truly impact it as a whole. What else should a higher, more intelligent species do?
Quote from –
The Hippy Poet
God is an idea! Such an improbable idea that many have, to make the idea inarguable, said that the idea is beyond human comprehension. By doing so the faithful remove the need but more importantly the ability to prove gods existence and so make it an untouchable notion of truth based on an idea. How is that different from being delusional? Believers hold fast to an idea of an improbable, incomprehensible, and untouchable nature as if it is fact!
Until tangible evidence for the existence of god is discovered, the notion of god remains in the realm of ideas.
And thats a factual statement!
Quote from –
The Hippy Poet
Can God be said to exist if God is not bounded by anything, including a definition?
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
God is everything that is not what God is not? Not very satisfying, but popular: the God of the Gaps.
tom tom, if something lacks a definition then its not the creatures doing but the creature who seeks to give it define it – it lacks the words or understanding – much like 2000 yrs ago, they were lacking serious understanding of the natural world and therefore "god did it" was the most apt explaination of the world.
God will be "said" to exist as long as theists have mouths.
@lunchbreaker – Very well said! lol
Yes, "said" requires things to have a definition. What are theists talking about if they can't define God?
God/gɒd/ Show Spelled [god] Show IPA
1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.
2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute: the God of Islam.
3. ( lowercase ) one of several deities, especially a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs.
4. ( often lowercase ) a supreme being according to some particular conception: the god of mercy.
5. Christian Science. the Supreme Being, understood as Life, Truth, love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle.
@ lunchbreaker – very nice!
now and simply because i am posting again – here
Tolerance, a modern ignorance when it is applied to that which brings the whole down.
Quote from –
The Hippy Poet
Not really, lunchbreaker. It leaks like a sieve. But if you want to believe in it go right ahead. As you pointed out, theists don't really care if their beliefs are justified.
Here's my question inre Rhode Island:If the tree isn't a"Christmas"tree,exactly what holiday is it intended to represent? If the Christmas tradition is not the point of this tree,why have a tree at all? What other late winter holiday is represented state-wide,in behalf of all the residents of the great state of Rhode Island(or any other American state,for that matter),by a pine/fir tree,except Christmas? The whole thing is so abysmally stupid,it simply boggles the mind!
I'm not a Christian and I have a "Christmas" tree. It didn't originate with Christians, but even if it did I would have no problem whatsoever with it since it holds no religious meaning unless you stick a giant cross on top. My local high school's sports team is named after ancient greek gods and I don't think that's promoting religion either. You have to take these things in context. Traditon is not inherently bad; rather it enriches life. Further more, if you really want to eliminate the power of a religion, there's no better way that secularizing arbitrary items they have taken on as symbols. The tree is only religious because you make it so. In Yugoslavia it was simply called a New Years tree under communism, and placed in Christian and Muslim homes alike. The world changes...it's time to move on. Don't take Christianity so seriously...you give it far too much credit and power.
Many people love the pagan parts of the holidays:
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
Christmas was not a Christian holiday. It was Saturnalia – worshiping the god Saturn. Christians co-opted it. Additionally, many pagan culures used decorated trees and even pine trees in celebration, especially in Egypt, and the Scandanavian countries as well as what is now Germany.
If you treat a symbol as belonging to a religion you give them ownership. We all, however, own the symbols and history of our culture and cultures. Why should someone who has grown up (for example) in a Christian family and chooses not to believe in god be forced to give up the tree? Why do they own it any less? Heck, why do they own any less the story of Noah, which makes for some very cute children's toys. Many stories in Chinese and Indian mythology offer similar richness which allow us ALL to celebrate Diwali, Holi, the lunar new year and other holidays. Limiting to one religion, or using it to convert should never fall within the role of government, but allowing people to share together in the fascinating and rich history of humans, that should be the whole point of life and a shared community.
Get your day off to a healthy start with polite skepticism and a healthy breakfast.
I say we make some smores and light up some christard trees.
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.