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Q and A with Matisyahu: 'Hasidic reggae superstar' sans the Hasidim
Singer Matisyahu, pictured on a March trip to Israel, is currently on tour in the US.
December 26th, 2012
12:04 PM ET

Q and A with Matisyahu: 'Hasidic reggae superstar' sans the Hasidim

By Dan Merica and Eric Weisbrod, CNN

Washington (CNN)–
It has been a year since Matisyahu, the famed Hasidic reggae star, shaved his beard, separated from his devout following of Orthodox Judaism and said he was ready for a "rebirth."

Since that time, he has produced new music including a recently released album, "Spark Seeker" and is ready to stop talking about his big change. Of course, we asked him about it anyway.

In his view, it was his decision to get into Hasidism and it was his decision to get out.

The beardless, but still scruffy, artist is touring the country with a show that included lighting a menorah during Hanukkah. We caught up with him in Washington to talk about his album, his new take on Judaism and how his life has changed in the last year.

The following is an edited transcript of our conversation. FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Judaism • Music

The rise of 'Hallelujah'
Leonard Cohen performs at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2012.
December 26th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

The rise of 'Hallelujah'

By Edgar Treiguts, CNN

(CNN) – It's a song that's been recorded by hundreds of artists. It's been a favorite in TV competition shows and been used as a healing anthem in times of tragedy. And just recently, after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, 'Hallelujah' emerged again.

The popularity of 'Hallelujah' was hardly foreshadowed when it was written and first recorded by Leonard Cohen in 1984. The song was on an album Cohen's record company decided not to release.

A decade would pass before it was embraced by another artist, and its true introduction began.

Listen to the full story on CNN Soundwaves

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith Now

December 26th, 2012
05:23 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Wednesday, December 26

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: A Christian prayer for peace in Syria
Pope Benedict XVI urged warring parties in Syria on Tuesday to end the 21-month-old civil war. "May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims," the pope said in his traditional Christmas message, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. "Once again, I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict."

CNN: 12 killed in attacks on two churches in Nigeria
At least 12 people died in northern Nigeria when attackers raided two churches during Christmas Eve services, police said. One assault occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in Postikum, in Yobe province. Gunmen attacked worshipers during prayer, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire. Worshipers also were attacked at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state. A deacon and five church members were killed.

FULL POST

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Morning Read

Opinion: Seeking the truth about Jesus
A nativity scene from St. Catherine's Church in Bethlehem in the West Bank.
December 26th, 2012
05:01 AM ET

Opinion: Seeking the truth about Jesus

By Jay Parini, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Jay Parini, poet and novelist, is author of the forthcoming book, "Jesus: The Human Face of God." He is the Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College.

(CNN) - At Christmas, the name of Jesus resounds everywhere in homes, churches, in hauntingly gorgeous carols, even casual conversations. Yet Christians didn't settle on December 25 as Christmas day until the fourth century, and this choice probably had something to do with its proximity to the winter solstice or its position as the final day of the Roman Saturnalia.

It was in the late third century, in fact, that the Roman emperor Aurelian established this date as a feast day celebrating the birth of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus), so it already had festive and quasi-religious prominence. Now it serves to welcome the infant who became Christ, the Greek word for Messiah.

There are probably as many visions of Jesus, and versions, as there are Christians. Many regard him as their savior, the Son of God sent to Earth to save human beings from themselves. Others see him as a great teacher, a healer or rabbi of extraordinary power, a holy man or prophet who proposed a new covenant between heaven and earth. To some, he represents a new world order, an egalitarian society, a preacher of nonviolence who asked us to turn the other cheek.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Jesus • Opinion

December 26th, 2012
01:17 AM ET

A Christian prayer for peace in Syria

By Joe Sterling, Salma Abdelaziz and Holly Yan, CNN

(CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI urged warring parties in Syria on Tuesday to end the 21-month-old civil war.

"May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims," the pope said in his traditional Christmas message, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

"Once again, I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict."

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Pope Benedict XVI • Syria

December 26th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

12 killed in attacks on two churches in Nigeria

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - At least 12 people died in northern Nigeria when attackers raided two churches during Christmas Eve services, police said.

One assault occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in Postikum, in Yobe province. Gunmen attacked worshipers during prayer, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire

Worshipers also were attacked at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state. A deacon and five church members were killed.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity • Nigeria • Pope Benedict XVI

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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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