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Filmmaker: I found God in Hollywood
Lee Stanley, right, and his son, Shane, left, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson on the set of their 2006 film, "Gridiron Gang."
March 31st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Filmmaker: I found God in Hollywood

By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) - It’s not impossible to be a Christian in Hollywood, Lee Stanley will tell you. What it does take is guts - the same guts it takes to be a Christian anywhere, he says.

Stanley wasn’t a believer when he moved from New England to California in the 1960s. He was in love with a fantasy – not the idea of making it big on the big screen, but being around the water all the time.

The aspiring baseball player had realized he wasn’t going to make it to the major leagues, so he turned to another passion - diving. He had no idea the trek West would lead him on the road to becoming a filmmaker who tells stories of redemption and faith.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: California • Movies • TV

Amid March Madness, some Christians decry sports worship
Those kids at Duke sure are passionate about their basketball.
March 25th, 2011
02:21 PM ET

Amid March Madness, some Christians decry sports worship

Believe it or not, there are Duke University students who were fired up Friday morning, even though their Blue Devils lost to Arizona Thursday night in the NCAA basketball tournament.

They may be a minority, but these students feel like the same passion that goes into cheering on the basketball team should go into worshipping the Lord.

They've been holding outdoor worship services on campus all week and are sponsoring an afternoon-long Christian music concert on Saturday. Think of it as faith-based March Madness, though officially the events are part of Blue Flame Worship Explosion 2011.

"While our whole school is seemingly captivated by basketball, we are proposing an alternative to bring more peace to March," said Regine Jean-Baptiste, one of the organizers of the Duke Christian events, wrote in an e-mail message.

“Often times everyone in life gets wrapped up in something … more than they should,” she wrote.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Culture & Science • Ethics • Faith • North Carolina • Sports

TobyMac, Chris Tomlin lead Dove Awards nominations
February 17th, 2011
10:58 AM ET

TobyMac, Chris Tomlin lead Dove Awards nominations

Christian music singers TobyMac and Chris Tomlin each received six nods when the Gospel Music Association announced the nominees for the Dove Awards at a news conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Both TobyMac (pictured) and Tomlin were nominated for artist of the year and song of the year.

A full list of the nominees is available at www.gospelmusic.org

Gospel music singer Jason Crabb picked up five nominations while Christian singer Francesca Battistelli garnered four.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Georgia • Music • TV • United States

Brandon Heath finds trust at the top of the hill
February 9th, 2011
07:55 AM ET

Brandon Heath finds trust at the top of the hill

You'd think that Christian music singer Brandon Heath hardly ever has a bad day at work. Especially with the No. 1 song (Your Love) and No. 2 album (Leaving Eden) in Christian music. Especially when you consider in the past three years he's been named newcomer of the year and twice been selected male artist of the year.

But that's not necessarily true.

Making "Leaving Eden," his third album with Reunion Records, tested Heath. He didn't always see eye-to-eye with executives at the label and with noted producer Dan Muckala during the early production days. Not that's a bad thing.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Music

Debbie Friedman, legendary Jewish singer, dies at 59
January 14th, 2011
12:55 PM ET

Debbie Friedman, legendary Jewish singer, dies at 59

Debbie Friedman, who gave Jewish music a modern folk sound, died this week due to complications from pneumonia. She was 59.

The immensely popular singer/songwriter was eulogized Tuesday as an artist who brought blessings to “not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of people.”

Rabbi Heidi Cohen of Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana, California, also read a statement from Friedman's sister, Cheryl Friedman.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Faith • Judaism • Music

College kids feeling passion for conference
January 11th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

College kids feeling passion for conference

By Steve Almasy, CNN

The Passion conference is more than just a huge gathering of college-age kids, organizers say.  the recent Atlanta conference was a call for the next generation to make Jesus a focal point in their lives and to share that passion with others, they said.

"Church was never meant to be an island of self-indulgence, but a missional community of Jesus-followers so in love with Him that they can do nothing else but carry His name to the world," pastor Louie Giglio said in an e-mail this week.

The event drew more than 22,000 students to the Georgia capital's convention center and to Philips Arena. It was even more successful than Giglio had hoped for.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Music

Hey Jude needs an act of love
December 22nd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Hey Jude needs an act of love

Singer Matthew West, whose "The Story of Your Life" album was compiled from letters written by his fans, will close the year by performing a benefit concert for St. Jude's hospital.

The concert is in memory of Dax Locke, who inspired a town to decorate for Christmas two months early, fearing he would not live until December. He did, but 2-year-old Dax died from acute myeloid leukemia five days after Christmas.

West wrote the songs for "Story" from 10,000 letters sent in by people who heard about his project, and he wrote a tune inspired by Dax's story after receiving three e-mails about him (but didn't include the song on the album).

The Dax-inspired song, "One Last Christmas," is now a video on his West's website, where for a donation to St. Jude's, you can download it.

West has also posted the video to YouTube where it has received more than 550,000 views. Be warned, watch the video with a few tissues.

The benefit concert will be held in Dax's hometown - Washington, Illinois - on December 30. West and the Locke family are trying to raise $1.6 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dax was treated.

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Charity • Christianity • Christmas • Culture & Science • Music

Casting Crowns – Christian rock's global ambassadors
December 15th, 2010
12:03 PM ET

Casting Crowns – Christian rock's global ambassadors

By Steve Almasy, CNN

During a recent weekend concert tour for United States troops in the Middle East, a man came up to Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall.

The soldier wasn't even supposed to be there, but his transfer into Afghanistan had been delayed just long enough for him to attend the Christian band's concert.

I'm going back to fight, the man told him.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Music

Ricky Skaggs jumps out of the bluegrass boat
December 2nd, 2010
10:54 AM ET

Ricky Skaggs jumps out of the bluegrass boat

Ricky Skaggs knows that he'll always be associated with bluegrass, always be thought of as the new face of the genre after his hero Bill Monroe passed away. He loves playing it.

"The bluegrass boat was working," he said by phone recently. "The boat I was sailing around in was working ... and I've had such joy working with [the band] Kentucky Thunder playing some great bluegrass."

Skaggs first appeared on stage 50 years ago, playing his mandolin with Monroe. A year later he was on the Martha White show, picking with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

He won 16 Grammys playing bluegrass. But he had long felt there was something more.

"For years I had been believing, and trusting, that God was going to pour out a new sound that would go out into the markets, go out into the streets where hurting people, lost people, lonely people, that there would be a music that would touch people," he said.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Music

Chris Tomlin tries to avoid 'status quo' with new CD
November 18th, 2010
11:08 AM ET

Chris Tomlin tries to avoid 'status quo' with new CD

People kept telling Chris Tomlin, one of the most popular songwriters in Christian music, that he needed to work together with another songwriter named Jason Ingram.

After several people made the suggestion, Tomlin texted Ingram one day and said, "I hear we need to get together and write. You must be the deal."

So the two set up a time to meet and Tomlin said he'd drive up to Nashville from his home in an Atlanta suburb, about a four-hour trip.

"It was the most amazing writing day of our lives," Tomlin said recently on the porch of the house that houses his recording studio in Johns Creek, Georgia.

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- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Music

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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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