March 28th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
Editor’s note: Brian Spadora lives and writes in New Jersey, where he attends Seton Hall University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter at @brianspadora.
By Brian Spadora, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Like many Catholics my age, I am Catholic in name only. I went to Mass every week as a kid and attended a Jesuit high school and college. My wife and I married in a Catholic church, and both of our children were baptized. But I haven’t been a churchgoer since I became too old for my mother to coerce me into a pew.
I haven’t even made the effort to attend Mass twice a year like “Christmas and Easter Catholics.” For my entire adult life, my Catholic faith has been a sort of cultural vestige, like the Italian, Irish and Slovak ethnic heritage from which I’m generations removed.
Despite this, this month I decided I am returning to the church. This turn of events is not quite as miraculous as the multiplication of loaves and fishes, but it’s pretty surprising. It began, innocently enough, with a half-serious promise to my devout Catholic mother.
October 31st, 2012
11:36 AM ET
By Christine Hoff Kraemer, Special to CNN
(CNN) – As Halloween approaches, Americans rush to malls and shopping centers, credit cards in hand. Children are outfitted as ghosts, Disney characters, princesses and superheroes, while adults dress to impress with “sexy” witch, vampire or pirate garb. Cookies shaped like jack o’lanterns fly off the shelves along with bag after bag of packaged candy.
In American culture, Halloween has mostly become a reason for a good party.
So it may surprise you to learn that the roots of Halloween are religious. In fact, for Americans who practice contemporary Paganism, Halloween is one of the two most important religious holidays of the year. Known as Samhain (pronounced SOW-un), the holiday is modeled after the ancient Celtic festival that marked the beginning of winter.
In Ireland, Scotland and parts of what is now France, ancient people believed that on the night of Samhain, the veil between the living world and that of the dead grew thin. The festival was a time to honor one’s ancestors and to remember deceased family members, as well as to prepare for winter.
September 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET
Editor’s note: The new documentary "Hellbound?" explores Americans' ideas about hell. We asked two prominent Christians who featured in the film to give us their very different takes on hell.
My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell
Editor’s note: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is "Crazy For God."
By Frank Schaeffer, Special to CNN
Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.
And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States. And nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
August 29th, 2012
11:09 AM ET
Editor's note: Ishwar Singh is the president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida and owns a small business called Industrial Scan, Inc.
By Ishwar Singh, Special to CNN
I am honored to be the first Sikh American in U.S. history to deliver the invocation at a national convention. On Wednesday, I will offer a prayer at the Republican National Convention from my Sikh faith.
The prayer calls upon the American public to join with us in recognition that we are one family. As an immigrant, a small-business owner and a father, I am humbled by the opportunity to address the nation. When I came to this country over 40 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the honor of offering a prayer for the nation. My story is possible only in America.
My prayer will be an opportunity to share the spirit of the Sikh faith with the American people. The tenets of Sikhism – humility, equality, and justice – lie at the heart of the American ethic.
August 4th, 2012
10:00 PM ET
Editor’s note: Timothy Keller is senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and author of The New York Times best-selling book "The Reason for God." His book for church leaders, "Center Church," will be published in September.
(CNN)–When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one.
Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”
Suffering and death seem random, senseless.
The recent Aurora, Colorado, shootings — in which some people were spared and others lost — is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents - the list is long.
July 23rd, 2012
08:18 AM ET
By Shafath Syed, Special to CNN
(CNN) - As our family has been getting ready for Ramadan and I look at my daughter I'm reminded of our Hajj trip and how it completed our family. I didn't fully realize the impact that Hajj would have on our family's life. It not only gave us a spiritual awakening but also brought a child, our child, into our lives. For Muslims, the chance to perform Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the greatest expressions of our faith.
There are three facets of my life that make me who I am. I'm an American by nationality, a Muslim by faith and an Indian by culture. Faith has always been an important part of my life. It comes from my parents, who exposed me to faith not just with education, but also in practice. For as long as I can remember, they were involved in the Muslim community and even helped to establish our local mosque.
June 26th, 2012
03:51 AM ET
Editor's Note: CNN International business news anchor Charles Hodson charts the journey that has taken him from the studio to the brink of ordained ministry – and explains how he plans to combine priesthood with his 34-year career in broadcast journalism.
By Charles Hodson, CNN
At about 11 a.m. this coming Sunday, in one of England’s most beautiful medieval cathedrals, Peter, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, will lay his hands on my head and pronounce these words:
Send down the Holy Spirit on your servant Henry Charles Hodson
for the office and work of a deacon in your Church.
It will be a moment without comparison in my life, and yet it will not be about me, or about any of the dozen others kneeling beside me to be ordained by laying-on of hands. It will be about God and his Church; to be called to serve them in love and humility through ordained ministry is a privilege beyond imagination for a Christian, and I hope and pray that my future service to all God’s people will reflect that trust.
June 16th, 2012
10:00 PM ET
By Tony Evans, Special to CNN
(CNN)–All I had ever known up until I was 10 years old was chaos in my home.
I was the oldest of four children and the atmosphere was volatile for all of us. My father and mother were in constant conflict, making divorce seem like the only possible outcome.
Having married young, they were still trying to figure out how to make life work. They often argued about how to handle finances, especially when there was little money to go around.
I could have ended up a casualty of a broken family, like so many of the kids around me in inner city Baltimore. But my life was forever changed the year I turned 10.
May 5th, 2012
10:00 PM ET
Editor's note: Andrea Palpant Dilley is the author of “Faith and Other Flat Tires.”
By Andrea Palpant Dilley, Special to CNN
During my junior year in college, I took a butter knife from my mother’s kitchen and scraped the Christian fish decal off the back bumper of the Plymouth hatchback I’d inherited from my older brother. Stripping off that sticker foreshadowed the day, a few years later, that I would walk out of church.
The reasons for my discontent were complicated. By most standards, I had a healthy childhood. I grew up the daughter of Quaker missionaries in a rural Kenyan community that laid the foundation for my faith. I spent the rest of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, raised in a stable Presbyterian church that gave me hymns and mission trips and potluck dinners.
I was surrounded by smart, conscientious Christians, the kind of people who read 19th century Russian novels and took meatloaf to firefighters when much of eastern Washington state went up in flames in the fall of 1991.
April 28th, 2012
09:52 PM ET
By Karen Spears Zacharias, Special to CNN
I hear the audible voice of God. No, not in the same way that the Bible’s Eve did when God asked her outright and out loud: “Woman, what in my name have you done now?”
Scriptures don’t tell us specifically, but I suspect at that particular moment in eternity God must have sounded a lot like Perry Mason: “C’mon, tell the truth. You know I’m a specialist on getting people out of trouble.”
Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is a pastor’s daughter in Alabama. You’d think if God spoke to anybody, it would be a pastor’s child, but Patti swears she has never heard the voice of God. The only time God speaks to her is through the written word.
I find that odd since God talks to me all the time.
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 and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.