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December 27th, 2012
04:34 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Thursday, December 27

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: The rise of 'Hallelujah'
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.

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

Tweet of the Day:

Photo of the Day:

Sri Lankan Buddhists lights incense sticks as they offer prayers during Poya, a full moon religious festival, at the Kelaniya Temple in Kelaniya on December 27, 2012. The predominantly Buddhist Island nation marks every full moon as a key religious holiday.

Enlightening Reads:

The Guardian: Peter Higgs criticizes Richard Dawkins over anti-religious 'fundamentalism'
As public disagreements go, few can have boasted such heavy-hitting antagonists. On one side is Richard Dawkins, the celebrated biologist who has made a second career demonstrating his epic disdain for religion. On the other is the theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, who this year became a shoo-in for a future Nobel prize after scientists at Cern in Geneva showed that his theory about how fundamental particles get their mass was correct. Their argument is over nothing less than the coexistence of religion and science.

San Francisco Chronicle: Stanford gets a chaplain for atheists
Chaplain John Figdor has a divinity degree from Harvard. He counsels those in need and visits the sick. And he works with Stanford students under the Office of Religious Life. So Figdor is the last guy you'd tag with the "A" word. But, yes. The chaplain is an atheist. "People are shocked when I tell them," Figdor said. "But atheist, agnostic and humanist students suffer the same problems as religious students – deaths or illnesses in the family, questions about the meaning of life, etc. – and would like a sympathetic nontheist to talk to."

Huffington Post: Hispanic Churches, Historically Spanish-Speaking, Adopt More English To Appeal To U.S.-Born Latinos
While it's become common wisdom that English-speaking churches will shrink as younger generations, who are typically less religious, become the majority, the Spanish church - known across denominations for its religious fervor - is battling to keep its youth in the faith. It's having to budge on one of its biggest points of pride and identity, its language, to hold on to them.

The Jerusalem Post: Rabbis offer plan for non-Orthodox prayer at Wall
Two leading national-religious rabbis have expressed support for accommodating non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall. Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, dean of the Hesder Yeshiva in Petah Tikva, said one solution could be to designate different hours for Orthodox and non-Orthodox prayer. Rabbi Benny Lau, another senior figure in the national-religious community, said the fact that only Orthodox worshipers feel at home at the Western Wall is damaging to the Jewish people and that the “sectoralization” of the site “distances other Jews from their heritage.” Both Cherlow and Lau are, however, considered to be on the liberal wing of the nationalreligious world.

The Huffington Post: White House Petition To Recognize Westboro Baptist Church As Hate Group Becomes Most Popular Ever
Users of the White House's "We the People" digital petition platform have flooded the site in support of an effort to officially designate the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. The most popular petition was submitted on Dec. 14, the same day as the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., an incident that Westboro responded to by announcing its intent to picket the funerals of the 26 victims, including 20 young children.

Catholic News Service: Pope names Boston priest to be Vatican's abuse investigator
Pope Benedict XVI has named a canon lawyer from the Archdiocese of Boston to be the new promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position that includes monitoring and investigating cases of priests accused of sex abuse.

Opinion of the Day:

CNN Opinion: Why must the nation grieve with God?
In light of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Lawrence M. Krauss, author of A Universe from Nothing, asks “why, as a nation, do we have to institutionalize the notion that religion must play a central role at such times, with the president as the clergyman-in-chief?”

Join the conversation…


A nativity scene from St. Catherine's Church in Bethlehem in the West Bank.

CNN: Seeking the truth about Jesus
Jay Parini, author of the forthcoming book Jesus: The Human Face of God, writes that “there are probably as many visions of Jesus, and versions, as there are Christians,” which explains why “all attempts to classify Jesus seem hopelessly inadequate.”

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Apple Bush

    Fake AB, is it your intention to ruin my fun and sever my friendships with the likes of Akira, MAD, sam, Tom Tom, GOPer, and many others? Why? What sadness do you harbor that creates suck a prick as you?

    December 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    For the record, I have not posted anything on this blog in two days and it looks like I need to change my name

    December 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  3. The Colosseum is Full

    @ lunch breaker.. NO ..... just imagine the population of other planets and galaxys just Eternal life and adventures in God!! imagine that !!! :) :) :)

    December 27, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Here's my mind => (), POW!, Why you do that Colosseum?

      December 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  4. myweightinwords

    Morning everyone. Happy Thursday.

    What's on the agenda today? What shall we talk about?

    December 27, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • The Colosseum is Full

      as on every day we shoudl always talk about Jesus..there are so many wonderful things that he can do...he is first fo all our only connection with eternal life There. really is no other like him... he is the first , teh last , the beginning and the end of all things... The bible identifies him as the Word of God...Jesus therfore accomplishes all that his Father in heaven pleases..When we speak of Jesus we are speaking of his Father in heaven also...He and the Father are one in the same..
      that is why there is none like him , no ont one... He is head above all in creation ! :) :) :)

      December 27, 2012 at 11:15 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Most people don't actually want to talk about Jesus, they either want to throw Jesus into every conversation as if that somehow is the same thing or gripe about those who claim to follow him.

        December 27, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      What's for dinner tonight? I have the hardest time deciding that these days.

      December 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  5. AtheistSteve

    Origin of evil??

    Christians believe that certain actions or events are inherently evil. For example when Eve picked fruit from the forbidden tree and gave mankind knowledge of good and evil. The act itself, picking the fruit, is considered evil...a sin.
    Of course they're wrong. Let me demonstrate why.
    A man is walking on the sidewalk. From the top of a tall building a brick falls on his head killing him. Is the falling lethal brick evil? No. Assuming loosened, weathered mortar and a chance gust of wind the event is merely an unfortunate accident.
    Now if for instance I was standing at the top of the roof, looking down at pedestrians, and tossed the brick so that it hit the man in the head killing him....is that evil? Yes....and here is why. Conscious intent. Evil doesn't exist outside the mind of the perpetrator. That's why we don't convict a 3yr old with murder who accidently shoots and kills their mother. They were completely unaware of what they were doing. No intent and so the act itself isn't evil.

    Still with me? Ok...so back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were created perfect...without sin...and without a knowledge of good and evil. Only 2 possibilities exist. Either Eve was completely unaware of the implications of her actions and thus could not be held accountable OR she consciously intended to disobey God PRIOR to committing the act itself, and if not her then by manipulation from Satan, but in either case the intention to DO EVIL existed before the fruit was picked.
    Actions cannot be evil...only the actors can.

    December 27, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Robert Brown

      AtheistSteve,

      They knew the consequences and they still did it because of pride. Satans temptation was when you eat it you will be as gods. Eves thought was, it was desired to make one wise, as wise as God. The act of disobedience was a sinful act, but the first sin was pride. God hates pride. The beginning of all evil as we know it was when Satan tried to make himself equal with God. This is what got him and his buds thrown from heaven into the earth.

      Genesis 3:1-6 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
      But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Mr. Brown, if i understood correctly the main point of the post is still correct. The potential to do evil existed before the picking of the fruit. So even in the beginning Adam and Eve were not perfect, but perfectly cabable of commiting sin as per God's design.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      True, Robert. It is a consistent idea idea in the bible:

      12 How you have fallen from heaven,
      morning star, son of the dawn!
      You have been cast down to the earth,
      you who once laid low the nations!
      13 You said in your heart,
      “I will ascend to the heavens;
      I will raise my throne
      above the stars of God;
      I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
      on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[b]
      14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
      I will make myself like the Most High.”
      15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
      to the depths of the pit.

      Good = being entirely subject to God
      Evil = believing you can be like God and control destinies, even your own

      December 27, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • WASP

      @brown: ok let me get this straight, god made angels knowing lucifer would rebel against him..........just so he could create a "bad guy" to test his next failure, humans.

      then he creates adam and lilith, which he knew lucifer would contaminate lilith during her creation making her want to be equal to adam and not subserviant.

      then he creates eve because adam was lonely, only to have her tricked by lilith into eating from a "fruit tree" that god put in the garden to begin with.

      so where exactly is free will? your "god" put things in motion because he knew before he created anything how the universe would go...........................yet he still created a failing product and blames us for his failures?
      what type of god are you worshipping?

      he creates evil, then blames the evil he created for being evil...................yeah that makes sense.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Lunchbreaker,

      Yes, created with the capability to do most anything, but not created with the intent to do evil.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Robert Brown

      WASP,

      Lilith?

      I don’t know he knew an angel would rebel when he created angels. How long was satan in heaven before he rebelled? How long were adam and eve in the garden before they rebelled?
      Would he know what the creation was going to do before he created it?
      Someday you get so smart you create your own little universe and beings and such. You put it all in order so that it works just right. You make the beings similar to yourself in that they are intelligent, self conscious, and so on. You gave them some fairly simple rules to follow so they would all get along and everything would be just great. Then they rebel, they refuse to follow your instructions. They start hurting each other and themselves. It is like a contagious disease with no known cure, but alas there is one who isn’t infected. His family isn’t either. The only way to stop it is to kill all the ones who have it and preserve the ones who don’t. What would you do?

      We commit evil and blame the creator for giving us the opportunity!

      December 27, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • The Colosseum is Full

      They didn't know anything Robert.. only to not to eat from the tree..they had no conception of what death was...it was only after they had eaten that they began to understand hence.. They hid from God when he came to visit them... Why??? because they realized that they were naked.. lol :)
      When God inquired, Adam acknowledge that he was afraid and hid from God.... :) again why? because he the KNOWLEDGE came from that TREE!!! lol :)
      That's why it's called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...all the ills of sin came upon mankind because of that knowledge... but it really doesen't matter all that much now, because...The colosseum is full :) :)

      December 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Just imagine the overpopulation if Eve hadn't brought death upon us.

      December 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • The Colosseum is Full

      @ lunchbreaker ....much eating from the tree has dulled your senses... had Adam and
      Eve not eaten from the tree they would never have sinned...the only sin was to eat from that tree... that sin came upon all man.. the only solution to sin is the blood of Jesus and faith in Him who is risen from the dead...
      I am witness of his resurrection... :) :) :)

      December 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      "We commit evil and blame the creator for giving us the opportunity!"

      No...bad people commit evil because they choose to...good people do good because they choose to...God doesn't come into it at all.

      But you would have us believe that good and evil didn't exist before the fall and THAT reflects God's poor planning no matter how you try to dress it up. The entire story of Adam and Eve is a morality tale. If they hadn't rebelled then there would be no lesson. If God hates pride...and pride is a sin....and therefore by definition evil...then it was there before the fall. Thus the Garden wasn't perfect. And if you like you say evil first appeared when Satan rebelled the same problem exists. But this goes even further. If man...given free will can choose to do evil...and angels also given free will can choose to do evil...then what prevents God from doing evil....Hmmm? According to scripture God can get angry and does so often...God can hate....being evil isn't much of a stretch. In fact that fits perfectly with what occurs with his creation.

      The argument from non-belief asks is God doing everything within his power to save the maximum number of souls from damnation?
      Clearly not. In the Garden he could have made the tree inaccessable or not there at all.
      But for the rest of us today the simple idea that we question his existence, or all those who died before hearing about him are lost.
      If there was no doubt about his existence then many more of us would be saved. Free will doesn't play into it since Satan was clearly aware of God's existence and yet he still choose rebel. The same for Adam and Eve. The conclusion is that God is allowing, through inaction, vast numbers of souls to end up in hell. Such a God is evil.
      But in reality we understand it's all just made up baloney.

      December 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • WASP

      @brown:
      "Lilith?
      I don’t know he knew an angel would rebel when he created angels. How long was satan in heaven before he rebelled? How long were adam and eve in the garden before they rebelled?
      Would he know what the creation was going to do before he created it?
      Someday you get so smart you create your own little universe and beings and such. You put it all in order so that it works just right. You make the beings similar to yourself in that they are intelligent, self conscious, and so on. You gave them some fairly simple rules to follow so they would all get along and everything would be just great. Then they rebel, they refuse to follow your instructions. They start hurting each other and themselves. It is like a contagious disease with no known cure, but alas there is one who isn’t infected. His family isn’t either. The only way to stop it is to kill all the ones who have it and preserve the ones who don’t. What would you do?
      We commit evil and blame the creator for giving us the opportunity!"

      1)if god didn't knwo that lucifer and other angels would attempt to over throw him then how is your god ALL KNOWING?
      2) have you truly studied your own faith or just what your preacher has told you about the bible. yes lilith was adams first wife. god created them man and woman. the exact passage in genesis is "let us create them male and female" then god goes on to tell these first two all about the garden, then adam is lonely for some reason (hint: his wife left him) and god names adam by name and puts adam to sleep to create eve second after adam was created.
      thus adam had a first wife that wouldn't submit to him and god. there are even passages about adam attempting to find "the most intelligent of the beasts in the garden"
      3) if i created life, like i have already i would ensure that anything that may bring them harm WASN'T WITHIN THEIR REACH.
      plus i would ensure to give them enough intelligence and common sense not to blindly follow anyone's advice without proof.
      4) humans do what humans want because we have the ability to choose; choice makes plans impossible because you can plan the most splendid night for you and your wife, but if she CHOOSES to go out with her friends instead your PLAN means nothing.
      5) you can avoid it as much as you like but YOUR GOD created everything, thus he created and still permits evil he designed to exsist; thus he is either not all powerful or not all knowing or not all present, either way he is not a god because he isn't perfect.
      6) what use would a god have for emotions? we learn from our parents how to control our emotions; how or what taught your god to control his emotions?

      December 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      AtheistSteve
      “No...bad people commit evil because they choose to...good people do good because they choose to...God doesn't come into it at all.”

      People, whether you classify them as good or bad, are capable of doing either good or bad, whether they are believers or not.

      “But you would have us believe that good and evil didn't exist before the fall”
      On this we can agree, good and evil existed before the fall.

      “The conclusion is that God is allowing, through inaction, vast numbers of souls to end up in hell. Such a God is evil.”
      God allows us freewill, he can but doesn’t necessarily force you to believe. You think he is evil because he doesn’t force you. You are blaming God for giving you a choice. Would you prefer someone loved you because you could force them to, or because they wanted to?

      December 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      WASP,

      “1)if god didn't knwo that lucifer and other angels would attempt to over throw him then how is your god ALL KNOWING?”

      How would God knowing what would happen, prevent him from allowing his creation to make the choice?

      “2) have you truly studied your own faith or just what your preacher has told you about the bible. yes lilith was adams first wife. god created them man and woman. the exact passage in genesis is "let us create them male and female" then god goes on to tell these first two all about the garden, then adam is lonely for some reason (hint: his wife left him) and god names adam by name and puts adam to sleep to create eve second after adam was created.
      thus adam had a first wife that wouldn't submit to him and god. there are even passages about adam attempting to find "the most intelligent of the beasts in the garden"

      If you can quote the scripture and verse where Lilith is mentioned in the bible you will teach me something new.

      “ 3) if i created life, like i have already i would ensure that anything that may bring them harm WASN'T WITHIN THEIR REACH.
      plus i would ensure to give them enough intelligence and common sense not to blindly follow anyone's advice without proof.”

      Your choice to have robots, God decided to create conscious, intelligent beings, and let them make their own choices.

      “ 4) humans do what humans want because we have the ability to choose; choice makes plans impossible because you can plan the most splendid night for you and your wife, but if she CHOOSES to go out with her friends instead your PLAN means nothing.”

      OK

      “ 5) you can avoid it as much as you like but YOUR GOD created everything, thus he created and still permits evil he designed to exsist; thus he is either not all powerful or not all knowing or not all present, either way he is not a god because he isn't perfect.”

      This is the chief sin on Gods hit list, Pride, the creation questioning the creator.

      “6) what use would a god have for emotions? we learn from our parents how to control our emotions; how or what taught your god to control his emotions?”
      Could you have love without hate, joy without sorrow?

      December 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      So suppose you have a tree in your yard that bears poisonous fruit. You tell your child not to eat from the tree. The child disobeys you and starts heading right for the tree. And instead of physically stopping the child you just watch, because you see everything that happens on your property, and when he dies you just say, "I told him not to, that's his fault." Why doesn't God afford HIs children the same concern humans do?

      December 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      Now that I think about it, why did God put that tree there in the first place?

      December 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • OTOH

      Robert Brown,
      "Your choice to have robots, God decided to create conscious, intelligent beings, and let them make their own choices."

      Then this "God" would know precisely what verification of its existence would be acceptable to all.

      Why the ambiguous trail of breadcrumbs, some of which lead right off a cliff to 'eternal damnation'?

      The god of The Bible is a monstrous trickster god, not worthy of trust or worship.

      December 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • OTOH

      *edit:

      The god of The Bible, IF it existed, would be a monstrous...

      December 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • sam

      @lunchbreaker – because god is the kind of guy who would purposely put a cupcake on the edge of the coffee table and then warn his dog not to eat it.

      December 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Lunchbreaker,

      He created Adam & Eve. He let them make the choice and ended their life on earth, and let them come to heaven.
      I think God cares about this life, but more about the next.

      December 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Lunchbreaker,

      I have no idea why he put the tree there in the first place.

      December 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      OTOH,
      I believe that at some point in your life the spirit of God will deal with your heart. How long I have no idea, he dealt with me for a long time, but at some point you have to decide. It is the most important decision you will ever make.

      December 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • sam

      Yes, at some point we all have to have a discussion with ourselves and pretend there's a higher force that gives two figs about a bunch of silly, poorly evolved hominids.

      December 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      Mr. Brown, of course having never seen the tree, I imagine it must have been gorgeous. Givin Biblical references in adventure movies, like the Ark of the Covenenant or the spear of destiny, I'm surprised no one has thought of incorporating seeds from said tree in a story line. But if the knowledge is already here what could it be used for? BUt first I suppose we should worry about how to get past the angel with the flaming sword. You know what, never mind, stupid movie idea.

      December 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "God allows us freewill, he can but doesn’t necessarily force you to believe. You think he is evil because he doesn’t force you. You are blaming God for giving you a choice. Would you prefer someone loved you because you could force them to, or because they wanted to?"

      Sorry Robert but I already addressed the free will issue. Knowledge of God's existence doesn't in any way abrogate Free Will. Satan had direct knowledge that God was real....so did Adam and Eve.....all still chose to rebel against God. So if making his existence clear doesn't violate free will it follows that God is NOT doing everything in his power to save as many souls as possible. God is EVIL
      Of course that's only true if he exists...which he doesn't...not the Abrahamic god anyway.
      Even though we have no evidence there could be a first cause deistic creator god but it can't be the biblical one due to logical inconsistancies. But thanks for playing. Incidently you lost me when you mentioned to OTOH that God would deal with his heart. Hearts pump blood....nothing more. Flowery poetic word salad might work on imbeciles.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  6. Chick-a-dee

    "Everyone’s life of faith has times of light, but also times of darkness. If you want to walk in the light, let the word of God be your guide." Benedict XVI

    December 27, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • WASP

      @CHICK: if you want to walk in the light.......................................flip the fracking lightswitch. :)

      December 27, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Happy

      That the pope debunked angels last month> Is Go-d next ?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:03 am |

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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.