July 31st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Do you speak Christian?

Editor's note: Kirby Ferguson is a New York-based writer, filmmaker and speaker who created the web video series Everything is a Remix. His videos, like the one above, can be found on Vimeo, an online community where artists share their films.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Can you speak Christian?

Have you told anyone “I’m born again?” Have you “walked the aisle” to “pray the prayer?”

Did you ever “name and claim” something and, after getting it, announce, “I’m highly blessed and favored?”

Many Americans are bilingual. They speak a secular language of sports talk, celebrity gossip and current events. But mention religion and some become armchair preachers who pepper their conversations with popular Christian words and trendy theological phrases.

If this is you, some Christian pastors and scholars have some bad news: You may not know what you’re talking about. They say that many contemporary Christians have become pious parrots. They constantly repeat Christian phrases that they don’t understand or distort.

Marcus Borg, an Episcopal theologian, calls this practice “speaking Christian.” He says he heard so many people misusing terms such as “born again” and “salvation” that he wrote a book about the practice.

People who speak Christian aren’t just mangling religious terminology, he says. They’re also inventing counterfeit Christian terms such as “the rapture” as if they were a part of essential church teaching.

The rapture, a phrase used to describe the sudden transport of true Christians to heaven while the rest of humanity is left behind to suffer, actually contradicts historic Christian teaching, Borg says.

“The rapture is a recent invention. Nobody had thought of what is now known as the rapture until about 1850,” says Borg, canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

How politicians speak Christian

Speaking Christian isn’t confined to religion. It’s infiltrated politics.

Political candidates have to learn how to speak Christian to win elections, says Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity in North Carolina.

One of our greatest presidents learned this early in his career. Abraham Lincoln was running for Congress when his opponent accused him of not being a Christian. Lincoln often referred to the Bible in his speeches, but he never joined a church or said he was born again like his congressional opponent, Leonard says.

"Lincoln was less specific about his own experience and, while he used biblical language, it was less distinctively Christian or conversionistic than many of the evangelical preachers thought it should be,” Leonard says.

Lincoln won that congressional election, but the accusation stuck with him until his death, Leonard says.

One recent president, though, knew how to speak Christian fluently.

During his 2003 State of the Union address, George W. Bush baffled some listeners when he declared that there was “wonder-working power” in the goodness of American people.

Evangelical ears, though, perked up at that phrase. It was an evangelical favorite, drawn from a popular 19th century revival hymn about the wonder-working power of Christ called “In the Precious Blood of the Lamb.”

Leonard says Bush was sending a coded message to evangelical voters: I’m one of you.

“The code says that one: I’m inside the community. And two: These are the linguistic ways that I show I believe what is required of me,” Leonard says.

Have you ‘named it and claimed it'?

Ordinary Christians do what Bush did all the time, Leonard says. They use coded Christian terms like verbal passports - flashing them gains you admittance to certain Christian communities.

Say you’ve met someone who is Pentecostal or charismatic, a group whose members believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing and speaking in tongues. If you want to signal to that person that you share their belief, you start talking about “receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost” or getting the “second blessings,” Leonard says.

Translation: Getting a baptism by water or sprinkling isn’t enough for some Pentecostals and charismatics. A person needs a baptism “in the spirit” to validate their Christian credentials.

Or say you’ve been invited to a megachurch that proclaims the prosperity theology (God will bless the faithful with wealth and health). You may hear what sounds like a new language.

Prosperity Christians don’t say “I want that new Mercedes.” They say they are going to “believe for a new Mercedes.” They don’t say “I want a promotion.” They say I “name and claim” a promotion.

The rationale behind both phrases is that what one speaks aloud in faith will come to pass. The prosperity dialect has become so popular that Leonard has added his own wrinkle.

“I call it ‘name it, claim it, grab it and have it,’ ’’ he says with a chuckle.

Some forms of speaking Christian, though, can become obsolete through lack of use.

Few contemporary pastors use the language of damnation - “turn or burn,” converting “the pagans” or warning people they’re going to hit “hell wide open” - because it’s considered too polarizing, Leonard says. The language of “walking the aisle” is also fading, Leonard says.

Appalachian and Southern Christians often told stories about staggering into church and walking forward during the altar call to say the “sinner’s prayer” during revival services that would often last for several weeks.

“People ‘testified’ to holding on to the pew until their knuckles turned white, fighting salvation all the way,” Leonard says. “You were in the back of the church, and you fought being saved.”

Contemporary churchgoers, though, no longer have time to take that walk, Leonard says. They consider their lives too busy for long revival services and extended altar calls. Many churches are either jettisoning or streamlining the altar call, Leonard says.

“You got soccer, you got PTA, you got family responsibilities - the culture just won’t sustain it as it once did,” Leonard says.

Even some of the most basic religious words are in jeopardy because of overuse.

Calling yourself a Christian, for example, is no longer cool among evangelicals on college campuses, says Robert Crosby, a theology professor at Southeastern University in Florida.

“Fewer believers are referring to themselves these days as ‘Christian,’ ” Crosby says. “More are using terms such as ‘Christ follower.’ This is due to the fact that the more generic term, Christian, has come to be used within religious and even political ways to refer to a voting bloc.”

What’s at stake

Speaking Christian correctly may seem like it’s just a fuss over semantics, but it’s ultimately about something bigger: defining Christianity, says Borg, author of “Speaking Christian.”

Christians use common words and phrases in hymns, prayers and sermons “to connect their religion to their life in the world,” Borg says.

“Speaking Christian is an umbrella term for not only knowing the words, but understanding them,” Borg says. “It’s knowing the basic vocabulary, knowing the basic stories.”

When Christians forget what their words mean, they forget what their faith means, Borg says.

Consider the word “salvation.” Most Christians use the words "salvation" or "saved" to talk about being rescued from sin or going to heaven, Borg says.

Yet salvation in the Bible is seldom confined to an afterlife. Those characters in the Bible who invoked the word salvation used it to describe the passage from injustice to justice, like the Israelites’ liberation from Egyptian bondage, Borg says.

“The Bible knows that powerful and wealthy elites commonly structure the world in their own self-interest. Pharaoh and Herod and Caesar are still with us. From them we need to be saved,” Borg writes.

And when Christians forget what their faith means, they get duped by trendy terms such as the rapture that have little to do with historical Christianity, he says.

The rapture has become an accepted part of the Christian vocabulary with the publication of the megaselling “Left Behind” novels and a heavily publicized prediction earlier this year by a Christian radio broadcaster that the rapture would occur in May.

But the notion that Christians will abandon the Earth to meet Jesus in the clouds while others are left behind to suffer is not traditional Christian teaching, Borg says.

He says it was first proclaimed by John Nelson Darby, a 19th century British evangelist, who thought of it after reading a New Testament passage in the first book of Thessalonians that described true believers being “caught up in the clouds together” with Jesus.

Christianity’s focus has long been about ushering in God’s kingdom “on Earth, not just in heaven,” Borg says.

“Christianity’s goal is not to escape from this world. It loves this world and seeks to change it for the better,” he writes.

For now, though, Borg and others are also focusing on changing how Christians talk about their faith.

If you don’t want to speak Christian, they say, pay attention to how Christianity’s founder spoke. Jesus spoke in a way that drew people in, says Leonard, the Wake Forest professor.

“He used stories, parables and metaphors,” Leonard says. “He communicated in images that both the religious folks and nonreligious folks of his day understand.”

When Christians develop their own private language for one another, they forget how Jesus made faith accessible to ordinary people, he says.

“Speaking Christian can become a way of suggesting a kind of spiritual status that others don’t have,” he says. “It communicates a kind of spiritual elitism that holds the spiritually ‘unwashed’ at arm’s length."

By that time, they’ve reached the final stage of speaking Christian - they've become spiritual snobs.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Episcopal • Faith • Fundamentalism • Politics • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,878 Responses)

    For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23 . And then; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16, And finally; Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. – John 14:6. This is all I need to believe in to decide to be a Christian. Anyone else out there speak that "code"?

    September 4, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Da King

      There is no code. If you believe Christ's act of love in your heart you will be born of the Spirit of God. You are a new person. "Flesh gives birth to flesh Spirit gives birth to Spirit". You will then have spiritual discernment. There is no faking it. If you believe, God knows. By faith you are saved. You will have new motivation if life they, loving God back. It's not complex. If you are born again, you know it. You will know who is and who is not. You will be hungry to know God's way and you will read his word daily and you will attend a nondenominational christian church that brightens you. It's a great life. Only other believers can understand this. All are welcome.

      September 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  2. Charles

    Cheap shot...using logic.

    September 3, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • Da King

      The Spirit World is not logical. If you are open to a logical spiritual experience, awakening, or life changing event it will never happen because it is spiritual. Accepting Christ's gift and being born again was explained this way by Jesus in the book of John, "flesh gives birth to flesh, spirit gives birth to spirit."
      Prayer and faith are spiritual. You will be saved by faith only. I you believe in Jesus in your heart, God will know. If you believe in your brain it is without power.

      September 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  3. Anon


    September 3, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Michael John

      It is impossible to see the Bible this way without taking it out of context and twisting its menaing. I've seen this a thousand times and its always the same, superficial logic. All people who cause harm or mislead people with the Bible, aslo must take it out of context and interpret it superficially. The misuse of the Bible and the opposers of the Bble use identical logic. In the depth of context, nothing this man says against the Bible is true. I've scoured it and never found any such things, only people who have misconceptions see fault with it. And only con-atists and psychopaths use it to cause harm.

      September 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • mag

      probably the most accurate description of religion i have ever seen.

      September 5, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  4. Katie

    Wow, obviously this Leonard guy misinterprets others' so-called "misinterpretations." First off, yes, Christian terminology does exist. However, it is not used to remember the faith, it is used to DESCRIBE the faith. It is very ignorant to say that Christians will forget their faith once they stop speaking "Christianese". I personally know many commited Christians who have a profound relationship with Jesus Christ that do not have to use traditional "praise the Lord" language to reassure themselves of their faith. As for the term "rapture" it is not a word found in the Bible, but yet again it is used to DESCRIBE the events that take place in the book of Revelation. The actual word is just used for description purposes, it was not literally taken out of the Bible. If anything, these "Christian" words were used to relate to people, although I do understand that the overuse of these terms has developed into a foreign language for many. And Leonard, we are not saved from Pharaoh or Caesar or any other earthly figure, we are saved from SIN, a basic principle of Christianity that cannot be denied.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  5. magdaleine

    Well written and true article! Conservative and evangelical Christians are improperly interpreting the Bible. They've hijacked Christianity in the name of whatever they feel like believing, memorize quotes taken out of context in the Bible, and are judgmental. They see a God who is fearful, not loving. If God were in human form today like he was during the time of the Romans, he too would be hanging out with all the poorest of the poor, the unwanted, and those who have been shunned by those who are "holier than thou" from society. Jesus' teachings were heresy in his day because they are so radical. I doubt evangelicals would have recognized it. The Pharisees hated him, why? Because everyone listened to him, he posed trouble to those who were comfortable, greedy, and made up the laws to fit their lifestyle. The Bible is made of metaphors, myths, and allegories. They were part of oral tradition handed down and kept preserved as a way of life.

    August 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Katie

      I do see how being full of religiosity is definitely not what Jesus taught or what Christians should practice, but the fact that you said that Evangelicals see a God who is fearful is not true. Evangelicals see a God that is loving, compassionate, and kind, but they also see a God who is righteous, just, and Holy, and a God that deserves to be feared respectfully. When Evangelicals say "to fear God", they are NOT saying that you must be scared or terrified of God, they are saying that you must have conviction in your heart when you do something wrong, and know that God is watching you whenever you do those things. Basically it means to not take advantage of God's forgiveness.

      September 2, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  6. Heentidella33844

    In August 12th The year 2007, all the Canucks used the purple your home jerseys. But they also had been having fun with around the Rexall arena throughout Edmonton, Tummy. On the other hand next event, for the back to back adventure versus the Oilers, your Canucks used its out there nhl jerseys. I have never observed the following accomplished earlier than! A person please help!.What can football gamers complete with the tops his or her foes give them?

    August 20, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  7. Rod

    The WORD of GOD ... exposing SIN, rebuking the CNNer that truth is exposed to the GLORY in JESUS CHRIST!

    August 16, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  8. Rod

    Hating the SIN, LOVING the sinner, bringing him to see the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE ....only thru JESUS CHRIST!

    August 16, 2011 at 2:24 am |
  9. Christ Lives

    To the true, bible-reading disciples of Christ who may have found this dubious den of deceit: This article is like most of the trash that I read regarding religion from CNN. To be fair, CNN is in league with other liberal news media, who also slam religion, so if you have a relationship with Christ, don't expect even the pretense of CNN's being fair when writing about Jesus, faith, religion, denominations and faith systems. I wouldn't consider anything CNN publishes about Jesus or a relationship with Him relevant or even accurate in terms of understanding the basis of Christian faith. Most of what I've read here over the last several months, is either in error, out of context, wholly sensationalistic, dubious in detail and/or selective in truth/understanding. Much logical fallacy abounds including ad hominem, straw man, poisoning the well, equivocation, begging the question, red herring, division, false dichotomy and trichotomy, guilt by association, special pleading, genetic fallacy . . . the list goes on and on. This comment section is like visiting the pit of hell and expecting fairness. Eph 6:12.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Blofty

      Marcus Borg, the Episcopal scholar referenced in this article is a highly respected biblical and religious scholar and is in line with most current scholarship on Jesus. The writer writing this article has said nothing that many other scholars wouldn't agree with and have written extensively. Don't knock it just because you personally don't agree. How do I know...because I have read many of the books written by these reputable and well respected scholars. Don't confuse theology with scholarship.

      August 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Christ Lives, I agree totally!

      Blofty, whether a scholar or theologian, it does not mater nor it is worth anything unless he/ she adheres to the Word of God . Sadly, most of those of Episcopal Church have compromised the Word of God and forsaking the Truth ...

      September 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  10. Greg B

    Here's an interesting thought for Christian Conservatives: the political and religious conservatives of his time were the ones who had Jesus killed. Jesus wasn't a conservative. He was a liberal verging on radical. He challenged orthodoxy, ministered to the sick and the poor, and threatened the status quo. So the political elites, the conservatives, had him killed.

    Now you all cherry-pick parts of the bible so you can call yourselves Christians so you can act like the people who had Him killed, while giving your money and obedience to the class of people who had Him killed. Just admit that you're not Christians, because "conservative Christian" is a contradiction in terms. True followers of Christ believe in fairness and justice for all and they would not support the current crop of "Christian" politicians.

    August 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  11. Micah Burke

    "“He used stories, parables and metaphors,” Leonard says" <- Leonard is wrong, Jesus said the reason he used parables is to PREVENT people from understanding. Read much?

    August 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • EK

      'Jesus said'... really? You have a book, chapter, and verse for that? In my readings, I fail to recall where Jesus said 'I use parables to prevent people from understanding.' Or did he say that in a parable code?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Ben

      10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

      11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

      “Though seeing, they do not see;
      though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

      14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

      “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
      you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
      15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
      they hardly hear with their ears,
      and they have closed their eyes.
      Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
      hear with their ears,
      understand with their hearts
      and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]

      16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Ben

      sorry forgot to include book and chapter. that's from Matthew chapter 13. To be fair, most biblical scholars agree Jesus isn't saying he speaks in code so nobody but his disciples can understand but rather that only those who get the message that Jesus had been preaching would understand the full spiritual implications of what he was saying. Christians are taught that it is the Holy Spirit working within the believer that makes the word of God alive in out lives.
      I'm not proposing an esoteric Christianity where the truths are kept within the believers. Paul said In Ephesians 6:19-20, "19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."

      August 29, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  12. Micah Burke

    Marcus Borg doesn't even believe the Bible is the Word of God, perhaps you should talk to Christians?

    August 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • jewish carpenter


      August 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  13. Ed

    The interesting reactions are exactly what this article was meant to achieve. And people fall for it everytime. My suggestion for all would be that you focus on what you chose to believe and just wait and see if you were wasting your time (either which way) the whole time or not... hahaha

    August 9, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  14. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    Seek ye First, The Kingdoms of God and its’ Ruler, Christ Jesus, the King of All Gods and Goddesses and even their Fruitions that are become likened unto Generations into the Foreverness Of All Time! Holy are the Godly Places and Holy is Now all Celestial Based Life upon any Terrestrial Shorelines that do make separate all the immeasurable heavens within the HEAVEN which are divided in Two. One being Outer Spaces and the Other being the Inner Spaces of Cosmological Relatives. GOD is of Outer Spaces while the Gods and Goddesses and their ongoing generations are of the Inner Spaces. Thus saith I, the Lionly Lamb Of The Gods, self-appointed and favored by Christ Jesus, the Heavenly King of All His Godly Beings whatever their manner and shapes do be and are and will become!

    August 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • jewish carpenter


      August 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  15. Brenda Middlebrook

    Either the writer of the book Marcus Borg is wrong or the commentator doing the video. Salvation is never worked for or earned. This is somebody who is lost who thinks they must earn salvation ...worked for and acheived is the words used in the video. Salvation from God from one's sin is a Gift from God..."For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." It is a gift from Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. Salvation is impossible to be earned. Please remove this misleading video and put up a true Chrstian commentary.

    August 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • lonnie

      In other words "remove the opinion I don't agree with and replace it with mine". Not in this life cupcake, write your own article and have it published. Welcome to the real world.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Rick

      Brenda: I am not beholding to what bronze age man thought of as "sinful". If you choose to be, good for you. I don't need salvation.

      August 10, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • jewish carpenter


      August 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  16. Muneef

    False Prophets reveal them selves time after time all through generations;

    Islam had it's share of False Prophets During Muhammad's saws time, so God only knows how many were there after his death and result of those at present times...!?
    -01) Al-Aswad al-Ansi.
    Aswad Ansi (Arabic : الاسود العنس), better known as Abhala son of Kaab, was a prophet who claimed prophethood in Yemen towards the end of the prophet Muhammad's lifetime, around 630 AD. He claimed to receive divine inspiration in the form of words and is recorded to have recited them to his people.
    He was known to be a soothsayer and a sorcerer who had a passion for consumption of alcohol. He had an ability to dazzle a crowd with tricks, according to traditional accounts he had a donkey whom he had trained to kneel before him, he would tell the donkey, in front of a large crowd "Kneel before your lord" and it would kneel, and then he would say to it "Bow before your lord" and it would bow. He eventually managed to convince the people of Yemen that he was a prophet.

    -2) Musaylama The Liar
    “ "From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. Peace be upon him who follows (God's) guidance. Now then, surely the earth belongs to God, who bequeaths it to whom He will amongst his servants. The ultimate issue is to the God-fearing."[4] ”

    -3) Tulayha
    Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi[1] belonged to the Bani Assad tribe. He was a wealthy chief and a great warrior.[1] In 625 he was defeated in the Expedition of Qatan (against the Muslims). He also took part in the Battle of the Trench in 627.
    In 630 he submitted to Muhammad. However, he rebelled against Muhammad in 631 when he claimed to be a prophet and the recipient of divine revelation.[1] Thus, Tulayha became the third person to claim prophethood among the Arabs against Muhammad.[2] Many tribes acknowledged him as a prophet, which made him sufficiently strong and powerful to lead a confederacy of numerous tribes against the Muslims.[1].

    August 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Muneef

      False Prophets reveal them selves time after time all through generations.
      Those today are refered to as politicians....

      August 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  17. Muneef

    To speak Christian is to stick to the meanings of the Cross which stands for many meanings;

    The Cross supposed to resembles the Sword and a Weighing Scale to Judge  as per the Judgments and Justice of the Holy&Public Laws...


    August 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  18. Sean

    Young people raised in Christian families are dropping out of the churches in huge, record numbers. It's a trend that's been happening for a while now and shows no sign of letting up. Christianity in the USA will be lucky to last another 50 years.

    August 4, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • J.W

      Once this evangelical movement is dead Christianity will grow again.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • user_name_extraordinaire

      Oh we can only hope so. If I prayed, that's what it would be for...

      August 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  19. Greg1

    Special, secret languages are a way of dividing the cult from those outside the cult. This is a simple cult tactic, along with calling echolalia "speaking in tongues". This is how cult followers are led to feel special, different, and better than non-cult followers.

    Yes, Pentacostalism and Charismatic Christianity is a cult (like Santeria, it uses familiar Christian symbols and texts, to create a very different message than the Gospel.

    Jesus left us with two laws: Love God, Love Your Fellow Man. Period. Any other rule or interdiction is false.

    P.S. Paul is the twelvth disciple because he says he is (author of Acts). How convenient.

    August 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • jewish carpenter

      speakest thou now in these tongues: WHOMP BOP A LOO BOP A WOM BAM BOOM!!!!!

      August 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  20. Paul

    This video is a joke and has no basis in historical or biblical reality. The author tries to claim that the "rapture," for example, clashes with other doctrines in the Bible, like salvation. But only if you accept his interpretation of "salvation," which was way, way off and not at all the early church viewpoint.

    He's just wrong. Don't let the nice music and images sway you. There is no truth to any of this.

    August 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • StevePi

      "A person needs a baptism 'in the spirit' to validate their Christian credentials." - Sweet. The only question is: whiskey or tequila? Now that's some hocus pocus that I'll buy into...

      August 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • jewish carpenter


      August 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
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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.