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The faces of Jesus
March 15th, 2014
11:23 AM ET

Five things you didn't know about Jesus

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, special to CNN

(CNN) - With Easter approaching, and the movie “Son of God” playing in wide release, you’re going to hear a lot about Jesus these days.

You may hear revelations from new books that purport to tell the “real story” about Jesus, opinions from friends who have discovered a “secret” on the Web about the son of God, and airtight arguments from co-workers who can prove he never existed.

Beware of most of these revelations; many are based on pure speculation and wishful thinking. Much of what we know about Jesus has been known for the last 2,000 years.

Still, even for devout Christian there are surprises to be found hidden within the Gospels, and thanks to advances in historical research and archaeological discoveries, more is known about his life and times.

With that in mind, here are five things you probably didn't know about Jesus.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Easter • Jesus • Opinion

The faces of Jesus
February 28th, 2014
12:08 PM ET

Opinion: #HotJesus: Must He be sexy?

Opinion by Carol Costello, CNN

Editor's note: Carol Costello anchors the 9 to 11 a.m. ET edition of CNN's "Newsroom" each weekday. Watch at 9:40 a.m. ET Thursday for a discussion of the new film about Jesus.

(CNN) - Clearly Jesus was sexy.

After all, He is the Son of God.

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but as I watched the trailer for the new movie, "Son of God," I found myself gawking at the actor portraying Jesus.

Diogo Morgado is one hot dude. His Jesus looks more like Brad Pitt than that nice man with the beard in all those paintings.

I'm not the only one gawking at Morgodo's Jesus. He inspired the hashtag, "#HotJesus". It went viral on Twitter. The actor told The New York Times he doesn't want his looks to distract from the movie, but, "If the message of Jesus was love, hope and compassion, and I can bring that to more people by being a more appealing Jesus, I am happy with that."

Clearly we have a new trend. A "more appealing" Jesus is not just a better prophet, he's ... sexy.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Jesus • Movies • Opinion

Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’
The rapid rise of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd may not be such a bad thing.
February 22nd, 2014
09:06 PM ET

Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’

Opinion by Linda Mercadante, special to CNN

(CNN) –
Despite the ongoing decline in American religious institutions, the meteoric rise in people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” should be seen positively - especially by religious people.

To accept this as good news, however, we need to listen to what they are saying, rather than ridicule them as “salad bar spiritualists” or eclectic dabblers.

After spending more than five years speaking with hundreds of “spiritual but not religious” folk across North America, I’ve come to see a certain set of core ideas among them. Because of their common themes, I think it’s fair to refer to them by the acronym: SBNR.

But before we explore what the SBNRs believe, we first need to learn what they protest.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Lost faith • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality • Trends

The Pope Francis 'book' of insults
Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI meet at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery at the Vatican last December.
February 19th, 2014
11:35 AM ET

The Pope Francis 'book' of insults

Opinion by Laurence England, special to CNN

(CNN) - In the year since Francis was elected Pope, the media have told us a certain story about this man “from the ends of the Earth,” as he once described himself.

Francis, we are told, is warm and friendly, gentle and compassionate. He embraces the poor, the disfigured, the outcast.

These attributes pose a sharp contrast, we are informed, to his mean-spirited, judgmental and arrogant predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was known for his fancy vestments and aloof, academic attitude.

If Francis has the common touch, the story goes, Benedict was firmly out of touch, perched on an ivory tower far inside the Vatican.

To many Catholics this media-driven contrast between the two Popes is laughable.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Opinion • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

A Buddhist guide to Valentine's Day
The Buddha has some sage advice for lovers looking forward to Valentine's Day.
February 13th, 2014
05:32 PM ET

A Buddhist guide to Valentine's Day

Opinion by Janet Nima Taylor, special to CNN

(CNN) - Valentine’s Day can conjure up the whole spectrum of human emotion, from the ecstasy of new love to the intense pain of loneliness.

It seems the day reeks of the expectation that we need a perfect relationship in order to be happy. But what do we really want?

Some of you might know that the Buddha left his wife and young child to pursue enlightenment, so maybe he’s not the best person to give advice about your love life. On the other hand, his teachings on love, relationships and suffering have a lot to say about our harried modern lives.

The Buddha’s first teaching,  known as the Four Noble Truths,  was about the connection between expectations and suffering.

He taught that life includes suffering because we seek happiness in inherently dissatisfying ways. If things are going great, we think they'll never change. (They always do.) If things are going poorly, we think it's because the world has failed us.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Buddhism • Faith Now • Holidays • Opinion • Sexuality • Spirituality

Will camel discovery break the Bible's back?
Camels, shown here in the Liwa desert outside Abu Dhabi, are the subject of a surprising new discovery.
February 11th, 2014
01:56 PM ET

Will camel discovery break the Bible's back?

Opinion by Joel Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) – It’s been a rough 2014 for the book of Genesis.

First a Noah’s Ark discovery raised a flood of questions, then there was the much-hyped debate over life’s origins between Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham.

And now this: a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, weren’t domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE

Taken on its own, this may seem a rather minor problem.

After all, this is Genesis, in which some people live to be 900 years old (hello, Methuselah), all of humanity emerges from Babylon, and the Dead Sea is created from the backward glance of Lot’s wife. (Not to mention the six-day creation story and the stuffing of all land animals on a single boat.)

How important could camels really be?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Evolution • Faith Now • Judaism • Middle East • Opinion • Scholarship

February 10th, 2014
06:13 PM ET

Deaf pastor signs a mighty surprising message

Opinion by Justin Vollmar, special to CNN

(CNN) – When I was 18, I was drawn to a strict Christian sect known as Independent Fundamental Baptists. They convinced me that they were the only true church and I became a born-again, washed-in-blood Christian.

I left Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier school for deaf students, to enroll at Capital Baptist Deaf College, where I graduated with an unaccredited bachelor's degree in pastoral studies.

For the next seven years, I was a pastor in Silver Spring, Maryland, working 60 hours a week for little pay. My senior pastor was a harsh taskmaster, scolding me and always pushing me to work harder. Meanwhile, he earned $80,000 a year and played golf two times a week. I lived in poverty and did not see my children much. I got burned out.

I resigned my position and was shunned by the church. My faith in God was severely shaken. I started to have doubts about the Bible’s claims. I questioned whether God’s love, which is supposed to reside inside Christians, was real.

Still, I didn’t quit the church.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Faith Now • Journeys • Lost faith • Opinion

Philip Seymour Hoffman in his own words
February 6th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

Why Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves a Catholic funeral

Opinion by Greg Kandra, special to CNN

(CNN) – When the news broke the other day that Philip Seymour Hoffman would receive a Catholic funeral on Friday, a few people on social media expressed surprise.

One commenter on my Facebook page questioned whether it was appropriate for the church to provide a high-profile Catholic funeral to someone whom she described as "a public sinner."

As  you probably know, Hoffman, one of this generation’s most celebrated actors, died last weekend of an apparent heroin overdose.

The Facebook critic recanted her comment when I explained that the funeral will not be high-profile. Instead, the Hoffman family is holding a private ceremony Friday at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York.

Although Hoffman was nominated for Oscars twice for playing religious figures - a Catholic priest in “Doubt” in 2009, a cult leader in “The Master" in 2012 - his own faith wasn’t widely known.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Entertainment • Faith • Mass • Opinion

Ken Ham: Why I'm debating Bill Nye about creationism
Bill Nye and Ken Ham will debate the origins of life Tuesday at the Creation Museum.
February 3rd, 2014
01:15 PM ET

Ken Ham: Why I'm debating Bill Nye about creationism

Editors note: Ken Ham will debate Bill Nye on February 4 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, with CNN's Tom Foreman moderating. The debate will be livestreamed at CNN.com at 7 pm ET, and Piers Morgan Live will interview Ham and Nye on Tuesday at 9 ET.

WATCH TUESDAY NIGHT'S DEBATE HERE: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/cvplive/cvpstream1.html

Opinion by Ken Ham, special to CNN

(CNN) - Public debates on evolution and creation have become increasingly rare. Several hundred well-attended debates were held in the 1970s and 1980s, but they have largely dried up in recent decades.

So I look forward to a spirited yet cordial debate on Tuesday with Bill Nye, the "Science Guy" of television fame.

I also look forward to the opportunity to help counter the general censorship against creationists' view of origins. While we are not in favor of mandating that creation be taught in public school science classes, we believe that, at the very least, instructors should have the academic freedom to bring up the problems with evolution.

Even though the two of us are not Ph.D. scientists, Mr. Nye and I clearly love science.

As a former science instructor, I have appreciated the useful television programs that he hosted and produced, especially when he practiced operational science in front of his audience.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Culture wars • Evolution • Opinion • Science

A father’s dilemma: Is watching football immoral?
Two Carolina Panthers tackle Tennessee Titans' Justin McCareins. Injuries from hits like these have caused some to question the morality of watching football.
February 1st, 2014
08:56 PM ET

A father’s dilemma: Is watching football immoral?

Opinion by Patton Dodd, special to CNN

(CNN) – Three weeks ago, I sat down with my family to root for the Denver Broncos against the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the NFL playoffs. The Broncos were winning and it was all going swimmingly - until Henry, my 7-year-old son, started with the questions:

"Dad, have you decided that it's OK to watch football?"

"Dad, didn't you say were you worried about all the injured players?"

"Dad? What percentage of you thinks it's OK to watch football, and what percentage of you thinks it's wrong?"

Little kid wouldn't shut up.

It was our first football game since late October, when, after two years of wrestling with my conscience, I had decided to stop watching the sport I've loved all my life.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith Now • Health • Opinion • Sports • Violence

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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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