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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

January 28th, 2014
10:37 AM ET

Noah's Ark discovery raises flood of questions

Opinion by Joel Baden, Special to CNN

(CNN) That faint humming sound you’ve heard recently is the scholarly world of the Bible and archaeology abuzz over the discovery of the oldest known Mesopotamian version of the famous Flood story.

A British scholar has found that a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet from what is now Iraq contains a story similar to the biblical account of Noah’s Ark.

The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark.

But there is one apparently major difference: The ark in this version is round.

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).

What’s really intriguing scholars is the description of the ark itself.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Judaism • Opinion

Countdown to Christmas
December 23rd, 2013
03:29 PM ET

A Christmas apology, and the seeds of hope

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) – This week we celebrate Christmas, and as a Christian, I want to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that this season has become about fights over manger scenes on public property, about complaining when clerks say, “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas,” about rampant commercialism and faux persecution.

I’m sorry that Christians in the United States can be so entitled when we’ve long enjoyed majority status, when we can be so blind to our own privilege.

It is ironic, really, because in the church calendar, the seasons of Advent and Christmas call us to reflect upon and celebrate what Christians believe was the most radical act of humility of all time the incarnation.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Christmas • Faith • Faith Now • Holidays • 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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