Editor's Note: Deborah Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas, blogs about raising her children without religion. An avid reader of the Belief Blog, she said she shared this essay on CNN iReport because 'I just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me. I think people misunderstand or are fearful of people who don’t believe in God.'
By Deborah Mitchell, Special to CNN
(CNN)–When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.
For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.
One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.
And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.
Read Mitchell's 7 reasons she's raising her children without God
Being an atheist is not much different than what Hitler's philosophy was. He wanted a perfect, super smart race to occupy the world. Darwin himself believed that the @v@ge races would be replaced. Joseph Stalin was an atheist. Atheists are evil.
Well those kinds of minds can can be of any flavor. Hitler, was, of course, a devout Christian.
Is belief a choice?
I believe my car is in the driveway because I put it there. I believe it is still there because it's been still there every other time. I accept the possibility that it "might" not be there if someone stole it.
But I'm not really "choosing" to believe if it is in the driveway or not, I'm "guessing" based on past experience.
So for the Christians and the atheists...can you really "choose" the opposite option if you wanted to choose?
Solid question, I've had thoughts along the same thing, though how you presented is a little off. The "belief" that you're car is in the driveway isn't really a belief but a fact. Your car won't have been parked somewhere else just because you believed you parked on the street even when you know you parked in the driveway and walking outside would confirm its location.
That's besides the point however because the crux of your question, "can you chose to believe in god or not" personally I lean on the side of no. I can't chose to believe in god when I clearly don't, I could try and lie to people around me and say I do but it's impossible to lie to myself and really make myself believe in god, any god.
I have to afford the believe the same possibility, however it's a little more complicated because a christian can convert to a muslim, or a jew to a born again, so there's obviously a little choice there, though I understand you can argue that outwardly converting to a different religion does not change your belief within.
is belief a choice?
beliefs are based on knowledge.
the question is – can you substantiate the things you know?
is there any evidence to support the things you believe?
is your knowledge "good" or "bad" knowledge?
is the knowledge you base your beliefs on true?
it was once believed by many that the earth was flat. as evidence of the spherical nature of the earth became available, that belief changed in the minds of many. yes – there are those who still cling to the idea that the world is flat.
is belief a choice? those who subscribe to the flat earth idea do so because they base their beliefs on faulty, flawed knowledge. they choose to believe the earth is flat. they choose to ignore the truth, which is very easily substantiated.
the question is – is ignorance is a choice?
don't let that keep you up... get some sleep.
I consider belief a mental state and as such it's like happiness: some people can control the 'choice' to have that mental state better than others.
Red flags that generally make me skip reading a comment:
I know others have their own personal peeves and I’d be interested to hear them. I’m sure many would also include this comment. Bring ‘em on…I’m not easily offended and might learn something. :)
1) Includes bible/quran quotes in the first few sentences. Either it’s directed only to others of the same belief (nothing wrong with that…just not my thing) or is by someone naïve enough not to realize this doesn’t provide any real content to people who aren’t in the club. I don’t mind a supporting quote later if really relevant…but it better be relevant.
2) The word “liar” anywhere in the post. You’d better really be sure it’s a lie and not just an error…there’s a difference some here seem to ignore.
3) Unintelligible grammar. I am by no means the grammar police and type plenty of typos myself, but if I can’t make out the first sentence without struggling, forget it.
4) Abusive language in the first sentence. Sure, everyone gets emotional, but put this up front and I’m going to assume you’re using insults because you lack the skill and knowledge to relay an idea.
5) Length. In general I find long posts are by people who are too full of themselves for this anyone welcome forum. Sheesh folks…it’s just an anonymous discussion and most stuff here is far from academic quality.
6) TOO MANY CAPS…obviously, but just to round out the list. See post by WOW below. Don’t read it…just see it.
7. If it's only one sentence, and something along the lines of "christards are the worst" or "atheists suck", usually labeled the drive-by chistian/atheist. The kind of person who wants to troll and annoy people without actually wanting to hold a conversation.
8. When you see a posters handle in 4 separate posts one right after the other
Ha ha Saraswati. I just accused Logic of lying in a post to you (but this is after MANY posts where Logic has posted misinformation so I think it was justified).
Pet peeve of mine (related to Chuckles last point), people that post the same crap on every blog (aka reality, Douglas, tbt, prayerbot before he took off).
@Chuckles, I love #7. "Christards""...yeah. Nothing says "I can't make a point worth listening to" like falling back junior high word games.
@Jen, lol, I must have missed that one...and occassionally someone really is lying. I just think it's just not usually the case, and not what I'd make my first guess.
Heres what I see........ a CNN reports on something they dont believe in!!! And everyone who is liberal follows in there footsteps ....................its like the biggest joke inthe world!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DONT BELIEVE IN GOD YET U REPORT AND MAKE ISSUES ON IT THEN PUT IN ON HERE SO OTHERS WHO DONT aka atheist .....WILL TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY DONT BELIEVE IN HAHAA HOW STUPID CAN U GET :D
The reality is, every atheist on here is a stupid idiot. You stupid tards give your $ to Richard Dawkins and others so that you can become more stupid. U communist, liberal, pro choice, immoral, stupid, drug addicts tards
Are you sure we're the ones on drugs? Because you're just rambling a bunch of craziness now. And you're also very judgemental, it saddens me that humans judge each other so. Everyone has their own choice on their beliefs. You're welcome to disagree with others' beliefs, but don't call them stupid and drug addicts. That just doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
Also, you can't just put everyone into a group. Some atheists are pro life. I'm not, but I understand why some people would be.
"The reality is, every atheist on here is a stupid idiot. "
More lies from the xtians – 115!
I'm sorry, but I must have missed the day Richard Dawkins passed the plate at the local atheist church... Oh wait, there aren't any, so how again was I supposed to give Dick Dawkins my cash? Was there an entrance fee to non-belief? I could not add up the money, time and effort I gave to my Church over the 30 years I attended, it would likely be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I can add up an exact figure I have spent on atheism... $0.
Gnome... Troll... I get it.
Where do these atheists get their morals from? themselves? who do they think they are?
now, go fvck yourself
prince hairy: we are people who do not depend on iron age comic books for our morality
Most of the stupid idiot scientist can't even tell you what the weather is gonna be tomorrow, and you want me to believe some stupid idiot atheistic scientist that thinks he knows exactly what happen millions of years ago
Quit calling the stupid idiot atheistic dirtball dustball scientists "stupid idiot atheistic scientists".
Now see, that's why they let you go from the Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co.. For writing things just like that.
TBT...doesn't matter what name you post under...Just because you IQ is not high enough to comprehend reality, doesn't change the knowledge that we have gained. Go away troll.
It's rainy every day for you Grimble Grumble, for the automatic sprinklers turn on every morning at 5 am to water the lawn you are perched on...
CNN is currently running a story on liars and cheats, atheists fit both those labels with accuracy.
Are you hungry troll? Run out of goats to eat under your bridge?
Just how many names do you post under troll?
DO NOT FEED THE TROLL
Thanks to those who have responded as they prove my statement. Thanks again.
Exactly how is asking a question proving your rediculous statement? Answer, it can't...TROLL
Thanks again fool, you are one of the best examples of why not to lose your mind to religion. BTW the RCC has been the largest scam perpatrated in the history of mankind, although the evangelical scammers are catching up fast. Thanks again for being stupid and willing to show it.
I'm, sorry, "truth be told", but your repeated assertions regarding atheism are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC EPIC FAIL".
I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
You can't just label people who don't believe in your god with a negative term. I would never put a negative label on people who's beliefs are different than mine. I have met many bad people and many good people but they're all of different religions. I am an atheist and I feel like I'm a fairly decent person. I have met religious people who are nice and some who aren't nice, I've also met atheists who are nice and some who are not nice. Try to have an open mind and an open heart even if you disagree with someone's views.
Can any of you explain to me specifically why Jesus allegedly had to die for our sins? It seems to me that an all powerful god could simply forgive our sins without torturing and killing himself. So that begs the question exactly who is he trying to impress? Us? Himself? That is unless there is some law that humans who sin are going to hell unless some blood sacrifice is made... Apparently a sacrifice of himself to himself? Anyway if such a law did exist why wouldn't god just change it? Maybe he isn't all powerful and can't change it? Honestly i went to twelve years of catholic school and never got an adequate answer but there seem to be some staunch defenders of the faith on here so have at it.
Mind if I take a st.ab at it?
If god just forgave us without actually showing it somehow, how would we know? Maybe he already tried to be su.b.tle, you know send birds and sh.it, but no one was paying attention. And just saying it outloud would make him look like a douc.he (think about it, what if one day your parents were like, "Hey Johnny, I forgive you" without any warning). So god, being really smart and all was like, "I got it! I'm going to die a really terrible death, but first I'm going to screw a vir.gin (those are the best kind) and make her have possibly the most painful childbirth imanginable. THEN I'll rage against the only people that believe in me by trying to convince them in human form that I've decided to change and then die a really grusome death"
that way the whole forgiveness thing will be lost in the act itself so it makes god seem really awesome instead of a di.ck.
Does that answer it?
Lol I see my mistake in attempting to use logic. Thank you for clearing this up.
Sense0326 sayz, "......So that begs......." The beggin' you should worry about is your own, beggar.
I am just letting you know that everything you mention is actually explained in the Bible. I am not sure which religion we are speaking of exactly, but the people of catholic religion have the same questions you have and I got all my answers right from the Bible. I now know why Jesus had to die and why God doesn't stop horrible things from happening and it makes sense.
@shoppecute – bull shlt. I have read the bible cover to cover several times and studies it for decades and I know the answer given to those questions and they are not really "in the bible" at all but a jigsaw puzzle of different scriptures wrapped heavily in Church doctrine written by Priests, Popes and Bishops over the last century all to promote their own power structure which required inherent sin coupled with the fear of heII to function. They needed the ransom sacrifice as the collateral with ultimate value to trade for control over the masses. "Give us money and lands and fealty and we shall cover you with Christs ransom sacrifice which comes with eternal bliss in heaven after your death, or deny us and we shall take what we want from you for you must be a heretic who will suffer and die at our hands before our God sends you to a fiery eternal torment..."
I cannot see how any supposedly "Loving" God would use his servants to extort good behavior from mankind. It is one of the most idiotic parts of the whole Christian argument.
@lol: good one man
@shoppecute: I haven't found the answers you're referring to. It does say Jesus had to die to forgive our sins, but it does not address why God couldn't have contrived a different method of forgiveness that didn't involve such masochism. Moreover I'm quite curious about which parts of the bible make you want to continue being Christian because much of it is obnoxious.
There's a very simple explanation. The god of the bible is a reflection of the immoral roving band of thugs that made him up, hence the blood sacrifices.
Personally, I'm agnostic leaning heavily towards atheism. I can almost understand some religious beliefs but that particular bit of Christian theology has remained absolutely inexplicable to me.
" I'm quite curious about which parts of the bible make you want to continue being Christian because much of it is obnoxious."
They have been bought off by promises of eternal golden streets with gem-studded walls, etc. just for worshipping that monstrous tyrant. Greed.
Agnostic and atheist are not mutually exclusive terms.
261 Ministers Proclamation
As Christian clergy we proclaim: the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.
In repentance and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches and in our world. We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. The Holy Spirit compels us:
-to affirm that the essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives by grace in relationship with God, with compassion toward humanity;
–to embrace the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters in all areas of church life, including leadership;
–to declare that the violence must stop. Christ’s love moves us to work for the healing of wounded souls who are victims of abuse often propagated in the name of Christ;
–to celebrate the prophetic witness of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity, especially LGBT persons, who have met hatred with love;
Therefore we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons, in and outside the church.
They drank too deeply from the leaven cup.
Not one atheist on here speaks for themselves they just repeat what that chain smoking idiot Chistopher Hitchens said, or that other idiot Richard Dawkins
Christopher Hitchens was a stupid chain smoking drunk
Grimble Grumble the gnome, I speak for myself. I am a non believer because the idea of God dose not make any sense. I would submit that it doesn't make any sense to you either, the difference between believers and non believers is that we non believers Can't believe something that just doesn't make sense.
Are you familiar enough with their dissertations to conclusively state that all atheist postings derive from those two people?
'John Quest' just made no sense
I've been an ateist for over 40 years, and I've never heard of those two. What about the millions of atheists that existed before those two were ever born?
Grimble Grumble the gnome, what part of my comment you do not understand?
grimble: and hitchens would have torn you apart like a pit bull confronting a bunny
"Grimble Grumble the gnome sayz,
Christopher Hitchens was a stupid chain smoking drunk".............Quit putting down chain smoking drunks.
I don't care what atheists believe. Who cares what a liberal, communist, pro-choice idiot believes.
Just how many names do you post under anyway troll?
Your apathy is returned in kind.
The 3 root causes ,
It is Called
Ethics and religion do not make good bed fellas
Religion and politics do not make good bed fellas either.
Mix all three and what do we get ?
Those loving bullies from Sodom showed up again.
and I love it when they do that to me.
So you enjoy being sodomized?
still the party girl at your trailer park, lol???
They have no morality either. They'll pretend to be normal and even pretend to be you. Proof they pretended to be lol??. Whatdaya expect for mythmakers?
Anyone know what hapened to the blog that had 8500 plus comments?
It's still there. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-910282
(... or you can click on the link at the bottom of the article)
Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Judaism are firewalled against gay marriage
and acceptance of gay coitus.
These faiths form a morality firewall against the siege of sin sweeping acroos the nation like prairie fire.
Thank you Orthodox Christians, Jews and Moslems for remaining steadfast agaisnt sin.
Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!
Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!
Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam.
Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
Spam spam spam spam!
And me a vegetarian...w
Religion is like a blind man looking in a black room for a black cat that isn't there, and finding it.
"against gay marriage
and acceptance of gay coitus."
The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.
Exactly chowboy, man's efforts to reach up are doomed. God had to reach down.
james, no point in swimming at the sewage treatment plant.
I don't have a problem with raising without God if that is your choice, but if you are claiming to raise a free thinker, I hope you have exposed the children to the ideas God and heaven so they can decide what makes sense. Otherwise it appears you are simply dodging questions because you don't know the answers and brainwashing your children against it just the same as some do for it.
yes, I expose the idea of god to my child when we're discussing fiction and/or ridiculous cartoons that show on TV for tiny tots and/or when we discuss other myths like the Yeti..
Nic, humans have invented tens of thousands of gods in the 200,000 years we have been modern humans. The oldest (that we have discovered so far) is a proto snake type god discovered in what is now Botswana, dating back some 70,000 years.
Are you teaching your kids all these gods? Do you have some type of schedule to make sure all gods get equal treatment? It would really suck for your kid if you covered all the gods but Amma, and it turns out that Amma is the "real" god!
@Nic, to primewonk's point, you simply don't have time to teach your children in depth on every known religion. What we do have time for is to teach children enough history, science and philosophical ideas to let them know that debate exists. We can equip children with the analytic tools they need to evaluate and choose what to learn on their own. And we can raise them with the love that will hopefully allow them to learn for the right reasons.
Yes, Saraswati. Exactly.
@Primewonk – if you are suggesting that if you can't teach absolutely everything you should teach nothing – well. . . you are an idiot.
Nic, don't tilt your head to far or your pea brain will fall out.
Only for the new members of this blog:-->>>>
Putting the kibosh on all religions and their gods in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
• There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
• Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.
• Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
Added details available upon written request.
A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.
"The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.
Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "
I'm not sure how you're using "i.e" in the above statements and it has an impact on how they are read. If you use it in the classic sense it should be possible to replace it with " that is to say" or just "that is". If you do this the items on left and right should equate, but yours do not. It looks more like you intend it to replace "therefore" but your right hand statements aren't strictly conclusions either ( would require several additional premises).
American Heritage Dictionary:
id est (that is)"
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/i-e#ixzz2IFhcKYHO
Only for the new members of this blog:–>>>>
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham that is the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses that is the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.
• There was no Gabriel that is Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.
• There was no Easter that is Christianity completely fails as a religion.
• There was no Moroni that is Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.
Some added premises:
AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD
Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)
"Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."
Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;
Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).
Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)
The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.
Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
Some added references to "tink-erbells".
"The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:
"TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."
And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:
"In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."
"The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "
"The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "
For added information see the review at:
Religion is afterall belief without evidence but to receive with faith without question. How then can we convince ourselves those who share with us or preach to us are mentally sound as normal they may appear to be.
Personally if I'm going to my grave anyway, I'd rather do so delusional and happy than sane and miserable.
Somebody asked me about the "wegod"...........Thar she blows:"..........How then can we............." (the maiden speaketh in the wee god's name.)
Reaper: Are those the only two choices?
It is an unrefutable truth that people can lose their minds due to religion. Therefore since the saints of the past are human enough to be even killed by human. Even the messiah cannot escape death. How can one be sure that given the harsh living conditions of ancient history. The people don't have mental illnesses.
Mammary glands are for more than just speeding up child birth by stimulation. Food, ever hear of that? Don't go cwazy on the readers.
I never fail to question if religion is really the by product of people with mental illnesses. In ancient days....mental health is often neglected. People lived in harsh conditions. We never know if the voices they hear or visions they see are no more than mental illusions and hallucinations. Yet we have people who do not question but follow the laws of his ways without question. A schizophrenic god can only produce followers of insanity. What your god is will be what you become.
Well milk maid, you trusted Freud and his pals prematurely. They had wet nurses. Start over at the beginning.
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.