So this lawyer walks into a church...
December 3rd, 2010
05:21 PM ET

So this lawyer walks into a church...

It took a two-year journey around the world for Susan Sparks to identify her life's mission - finding the funny in religion.

Fifteen years ago, pastor Susan Sparks didn't even go to church. She was an attorney for Citibank, drafting contracts and defending litigation claims. After hours, she exercised her natural talent for making people laugh, performing stand-up in small comedy clubs around Manhattan.

But when she went to bed at night, Sparks felt an absence of purpose: "My parents taught me to leave things better than I found them," she remembers. "I used to lie there and think, What did I leave better today?" So she quit her job, packed a bag, and set off to find her true calling.

"I was raised in a very conservative - and alienating - Baptist tradition down South, and that was all I knew," Sparks says. "I wanted to sink into new religions."

Read the full post here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

December 3rd, 2010
03:14 PM ET

President Obama's Hanukkah Celebration

Editor's Note: CNN White House Producer Becky Brittain files this report from Washington on CNN's White House blog The 1600 Report.

The President and First Lady hosted a little gathering Thursday night in the East Room to celebrate Hanukkah.

Included on the list of 500 guests, one-third of the Supreme Court justices- Breyer, Ginsburg, and Kagan. Several Jewish members of Congress and other elected officials and members of the military were there too.

The menorah for the event was loaned to the White House by New Orleans's Congregation Beth Israel. It was one of very few items to survive Hurricane Katrina. It was found by cleanup crews in horrible condition but was restored and re-lit for the first time three years ago.

Click on the video link above to see all of President Obama's remarks.

Check out CNN's The 1600 Report here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • DC • Holidays • Politics • United States

December 3rd, 2010
02:59 PM ET

Jay Leno spoofs the Belief Blog

"The Tonight Show" spoofed CNN Belief Blog's Sacred Spaces series on Thursday. Check it out.

You can see the original piece we did on the stone mason at the Washington National Cathedral here.

Sacred Spaces is an occasional series on the Belief Blog taking an inside look at worship spaces from unique perspectives.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Sacred Spaces • TV

Muslims offer mixed views on Hamas, Hezbollah, reject al Qaeda
December 3rd, 2010
12:07 PM ET

Muslims offer mixed views on Hamas, Hezbollah, reject al Qaeda

Editor's Note: This report comes from the CNN Wires desk.

Muslims in many parts of the Islamic world overwhelmingly reject al Qaeda, support a large role for their faith in government and believe democracy is preferable to any other kind of political structure, according to a new survey released by Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.

The study also found falling support for suicide bombings, as well as mixed attitudes towards Hamas and Hezbollah, Islamic groups designated as terrorist organizations by Western governments but which operate extensive social services networks in parts of the Muslim world.

The survey, conducted this spring in Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, found that only in Nigeria did Muslim populations have anything approaching a favorable view of al Qaeda, with 49 percent expressing positive views and 34 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Muslim

December 3rd, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Hanukkah video helps Jews sing new tune

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Face it: Good Hanukkah songs are hard to come by.

For decades, school children performing in holiday concerts have droned on about that dreidel, dreidel, dreidel they've made out of clay. That showstopper (and please don't let this be a reader stopper) goes like this:

I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay.
And when it's dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay.
And when it's dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play!

I, for one, have never seen a child make a dreidel out of clay, let alone wait for it to dry so he or she can play, but that's not the issue here.


- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Holidays • Judaism • Music • Technology

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.