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'Bible Belt' meets 'Borscht Belt'
Rachel Held Evans is the author of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood."
December 28th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

'Bible Belt' meets 'Borscht Belt'

By Michael Schulder, CNN

(CNN)– Something tells me if Rachel Held Evans were my childrens' Sunday School teacher they'd never want to miss a Sunday.

Evans is an evangelical Christian and my family is Jewish.

Evans lives in the town where the term Bible Belt was coined* and my father was a professional standup comic who worked the buckle of the Borscht Belt in New York's Catskill Mountains.

But Evans bridges the divide between the belts in her new book, The Year of Biblical Womanhood, the result of an experiment in which she lived the Old and New Testament's instructions for women as literally as possible for an entire year.

As Evans tells us in this week's audio show, CNN Profiles, she aims to "teach the gospel of Jesus with humor." That's hard to do without offending some people.  Evans does have her critics, but she has an ark full of followers too.

Listen to the the CNN Profile of Rachel Held Evans at CNN Radio's Soundwaves.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Leaders

December 28th, 2012
04:40 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Friday, December 28

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: Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare
Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare. The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.

CNN: Justice won't block Obamacare's required emergency contraception coverage
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday turned down a request that she block part of Obamacare that would require companies' health plans to provide for coverage of certain contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill.
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Mardel, Inc. and five family members involved in ownership and control of the corporations had protested the requirement, which is to kick in January 1.

FULL POST

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

December 27th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN)– Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.

The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.

After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced late Thursday through its attorneys that it "will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state

Justice won't block Obamacare's required emergency contraception coverage
December 27th, 2012
07:52 AM ET

Justice won't block Obamacare's required emergency contraception coverage

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday turned down a request that she block part of Obamacare that would require companies' health plans to provide for coverage of certain contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill.
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Mardel, Inc. and five family members involved in ownership and control of the corporations had protested the requirement, which is to kick in January 1.

They said they would be required "to provide insurance coverage for certain drugs and devices that the applicants believe can cause abortions," which would be against their religious beliefs, Sotomayor wrote in her opinion.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Christianity • Courts

My Take: The challenge of hope in 'Les Misérables'
Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean and Isabelle Allen is the young Cosette in the film version of the musical "Les Misérables."
December 27th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

My Take: The challenge of hope in 'Les Misérables'

Editor's note: Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio is an ordained Episcopal Church priest and author of "God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom."

By Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Will you be strong and stand with me? That’s the question the cast of "Les Misérables" asks viewers at the end of the film as they stand along a barricade. But it’s also the question one particular character, a bishop, asks early in the movie.

And that question has radical implications for all of us who want to see our world transformed by hope.

That bishop meets the main character, Jean Valjean, after he’s released from serving nearly two decades in prison. With no job prospects and lifelong parole haunting his name, Valjean cannot find employment, a home, financial stability.

Then he stumbles upon the bishop, who invites him into his home, feeds him dinner, offers him a bed.

That night, a desperate Valjean flouts the bishop’s kindness by stealing his silver, but the next morning, when he’s caught and returned to the bishop’s home for condemnation, the bishop says something quite curious:

“But my friend, you left so early, surely something slipped your mind.” He hands Valjean two silver candlesticks.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Movies

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.

FULL POST

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

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 • 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

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: Uncategorized

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

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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.

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