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December 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

'What's Christmas without chopsticks?' How other faiths celebrate December 25th

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -
Two days before Christmas, Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, preached about Jesus at Friday prayers.

"We live in a country with a majority of Christians, where Christmas is a major holiday... It's a reminder we do believe in Jesus. Jesus' position in Islam is one of the highest prophets in Islam," Magid said, adding that Muslims view Jesus as a prophet on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah and Mohammad.

Often when he says the name of Mohammad or Jesus in conversation, Magid adds the Islamic honorific "Peace be upon him" after his name.

"Jesus is a unifying figure, unifying Muslims and Christians," he said. The Quran, the Islamic scriptures, makes specific mention of Jesus and of his mother Mary. "It's very interesting that there are many places where the prophet (Mohammad) is quoting Jesus."

Christmas has a way of bleeding into other faiths in America.  The Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 some odd years ago is ubiquitous across the country, even if the American tradition has leaned away from the sacred and toward the secular.

Christmas at every corner can be somewhat problematic for those who are not in the estimated 246 million Christians living in the United States.  But for some faiths, the season brings reminders of their own traditions.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Magid said Muslims believe many of the same things about Jesus that Christians do: Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a sinless life, he raised the dead, and he preformed miracles. He also said many Muslim scholars believe that Jesus will one day return to the earth, using the Christian vocabulary of "the Second Coming."

Explain it to me: The Hajj

"Certain aspects of our theology are different," he carefully notes, pointing specifically to incarnation, the Christian belief that Jesus was divine. Muslims are perhaps the most ardent monotheists in the world, making them at odds with Christians theologically over not only the Christian doctrine of incarnation, but also belief in the Trinity, that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are three in one.

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society is one of the largest Muslim congregations in the country with ties to 5,000 families in the Washington area. Some of the families do put up a Christmas tree and exchange gifts, which one member suspects is often more about cultural assimilation than religious observance.

"I think Muslims, although they believe in Jesus, they give respect to this as a Christian holiday, so they don't pretend to celebrate this in a religious way," Magid said. "A Muslim would not expect a Christian to celebrate his holiday."

My Take: Why we're skipping the Christmas roast

At the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery three hours north of San Francisco, there is a small Christmas tree set up near the statue of the Buddha.

"Normally we just have flowers, incense and candles, but now we have a tiny Christmas tree. It's really cute," Ajhan Yatiko, a monk in residence who is originally from Canada, said. "It's more like a traditional thing, respecting and appreciating the culture of where we live."

During the holidays, Yatiko said, "The senior monk might give a talk to the lay people which might draw parallels between the Christian faith and the Buddhist faith, as well as the differences, because I think both of those are important aspects of interfaith harmony.

"Sometimes in the West these days there's a kind of tendency to clump all the religions together and say, 'We're all climbing the same mountain,' and I think the intention there is nice. There's a harmonious intention there. But I think it's much nicer to say, 'Let's respect the differences and love and appreciate the differences of the other faiths," Yatiko said.

For the monks at Abhayagiri, life is spent in meditation, community, celibacy and work. They practice Buddhism in the Theravada tradition or the Thai Forest tradition. In their faith tradition, monks cannot handle money, grow their own food or trade, so they live entirely off of the generosity of others.

That means every half moon, about once a week, they head into town for alms rounds, where they walk around in their saffron robes with alms bowls to collect donations. The new moon this week fell on Christmas Eve.

"Everyone we see is going to be wishing us a Merry Christmas, and we'll be doing likewise," Yatiko said a few days before Christmas.

"We don't touch money and live a very simple lifestyle, so the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts doesn't work so well for us," Yatiko said.

Yet Buddhists are called to live generously at every chance, be it in material things or spiritual ones, so at Christmastime the monks bring a truckload of fire wood and a fruit basket to a neighboring Ukrainian Catholic monastery.

In Brooklyn, a Hasidic walking tour opens ultra-Orthodox Jewish life to outsiders

"We do have some rather revered traditions for Christmas Day," said Rabbi Rick Rheins.  "I'm not sure if it was Talmudic or not, to visit the movie theater followed by a Chinese dinner," joked Rheins referring the collection of ancient rabbi teaching called the Talmud.

"What's Christmas without chopsticks?" joked Rheins who is the head of Denver's Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation of about 1,100 families.

"We acknowledge the importance of this day for our Christian neighbors and for my Christian colleagues. And so we don't celebrate Christmas as Jews, but we do thrill for our Christian neighbors," he said. Rheins said the celebration of Hanukkah simultaneously at Christmastime this year will mean he won't be bringing in any Christmas metaphors into services on Friday and Saturday.

As for the Christmas Day itself, including the popcorn and chopsticks, he said, "We encourage our members to do special volunteer work to relieve our Christian neighbors of their responsibilities, whether it's at hospitals or emergency services, to give them the opportunity to spend this time with their family and celebrate this sacred day for them.

"Christians and Jews, especially over the last generation, have really worked so hard to build bridges, not just of tolerance, but also have generated true mutual respect and cooperation," he said. He cited working to fight hunger and poverty together. "These are the expressions of a society where the differences in religion and the expressions of one's faith are less divisive than they are enriching.

"I don't think that was the case a generation ago," Rheins said.

Christmas has a way of seeping into Hindu traditions, as well. At least the tree and presents part.  "Because of the children," Uma Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America said.

"The children say, 'Oh, there's a tree in my friend's house.  Why not in my house?' So they will get a small tree, a symbolic tree," Mysorekar said.

"We do look up to Jesus as one of the deities of Christianity," Mysorekar said.

At the Hindu Temple Society of North America in the Flushing area of Queens, New York, Christmas Day will be filled with worshipers coming in and out.  Unlike other faiths, Hindus do not have a set day for communal worship.  The temple is a key part of Hinduism for prayer, worship and offerings.  Christmas will be busier because of the three day weekend, Mysorekar guessed.

Their temple even had a holiday party for the children.

Sacred Spaces: Inside a Hindu temple

"We have a holiday party for them, and we give them gifts and tell them what it's all about.  You know the Hindu festival of Diwali, it is more or less the same, where we give gifts and we meet with friends... So the custom is very easy to relate to."

During Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, lamps are lit in celebration of good triumphing over evil.

"Apart from the religious aspect of it - the concept, theme of Christmas - I think it's very much the same all over," she said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Buddhism • Christianity • Christmas • Hinduism • Islam

soundoff (2,252 Responses)
  1. gliese42

    Bye everybody and Merry Christmas. I know that Dec 25 is not Christ birthday and it is especially a pagan festival but I am hoping that they they will adjust it to the right day and month if that is possible

    December 25, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      I don't know, which fool has etablished the lie that Christmas would be the continuation of a pagan feast. As far as I know Christmas was rescheduled on the feast day of Sol Invictus (God of the sun), in order to proclaim the victory of the "true sun of righteousness", which is Jesus Christ, over the false God Sol Invictus.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Truthz

      HEY! RAINER! HOW U MAKE NAME BLUE?

      December 25, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      I have a own website. When I am logged in (on my website) and go on CNN Belief Blog at the same time, my name appears in blue.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  2. hesus

    respect is the best way to unity.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Truthz

      and unity is the best wayz to respect

      December 25, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Santy Claus ... see I DO exist, you faithless bunch of unbelievers

      Who needs unity ? Why not just respect diversity ? Unity is boring.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  3. Rainer Braendlein

    The most striking difference between Christianity and other faiths like Catholicism:

    In contrast to other religions (of the law) Christians don't try to gain salvation by doing good deeds or keeping the law, but Christians follow Jesus (that comprises the fulfillment of the law by Christian love), because God loved them first.

    Jesus yet loved us, when we still were sinners or enemies of God. Despite our sinful state Jesus died for us. That means he gave us an extremly high advance of love, which we had not deserved at all, but punishment.

    Don't let us try to gain God's favour by good deeds, but let us do good deeds after God has given us his favour for free. That is the gosple of Jesus Christ.

    Christmas: God loved us first. God loves YOU now! Give Him an appropriate answer!

    December 25, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Truthz

      Wat? So many contradictions in what you just said...

      December 25, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Rainer: You said-"In contrast to other religions (of the law) Christians don't try to gain salvation by doing good deeds or keeping the law, "

      So that explains the high number of christards in jail!!! They don't try to gain salvation by keeping the law?? You're not serious...right? To not follow the laws of the land is to be a criminal. What laws should they follow? In a court of law, those laws of god will not hold water.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @TruthPrevails

      Have you read my comment completely???

      I said that Christian yet keep the law, (but not in order to gain salvation).

      Christians keep the law, because they have been saved.

      Someone, who presumes to be a Christian and doesn't keep the law, is a liar.

      Christians keep the law by the power, which God has given them.

      The divine interpretation of the Old Testament law is the Sermon on the Mount.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Rainer: I did read it but was in turn pointing out how that sounded. And you are wrong...not all Christards keep the law...the prisons are overflowing with christards. You do not have to believe to be a good person or live a good life. AtheistSteve and myself live good lives and are not criminals and yet we don't believe. I think following some common sense morals should be good (killing is bad; wishing harm upon another person is bad; breaking a law is bad, etc)...we are all human in the end.
      Have a wonderful Christmas Rainer.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Santy Claus ... see I DO exist, you faithless bunch of unbelievers

      Ya see folks, it's a cosmic game of tag. Rainer is just trying to say "you're IT".

      December 25, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  4. hesus

    @bible is garbage....ur character as a person is not near to a single-celled amoeba!!!;(

    December 25, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      YOUR ABILITY TO ARTICULATE SIMPLE WORDS AND PHRASES SUCKS.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  5. SKyle

    Some of you would do well to pick up any modern, run-of-the-mill college textbook regarding early religious history. Islam was a creation spurred by the tug-of-war played out on the backs of the Arab peoples by both the Persians and the Romans. Learn something... It's your religion's fault Mohammed was forced to fight back in the first place.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Truthz

      And you must be the professor's candy-assgot

      December 25, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • gliese42

      skyle@ Mohammad destroyed Zoarastrians and forced islam into them. Iranians are good people and I would love to change history but that is impossible

      December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  6. martog

    The 25 of December is a special day. That's because a lot of time ago, that day, a man who changed the world was born. His words full of truth are still remembered today.
    Happy birthday Isaac Newton.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  7. Reality

    And a Merry Mythmas to all of our sister and brother Christians as we send along the following:

    They are called the Infamous Angelic Cons:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni.

    "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Mike Rotchitches

      Troll! lol! lol! lol... lol! lol! lol... lol! lol! lol.... Troll! lol! lol! lol! lol!...

      December 25, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Truthz

      Obvious Troll is Obvious

      December 25, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Reality

      As noted many times:

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  8. Chris Alix

    @Frank You have a right to think this way but I challenge you to dig deeper. You must understand that for Hitler and like rest of the world during the time that Christianity was more of a status symbol. On the other hand being Christian is deeper than just claiming you are. For Christ is was living a holy and righteous peaceful life. Hitler was acutely part of the Occult. if you would do your history you would see his true form. Also there was a Pacifist German Pastor called Dietrich Bonofforrer who if you read his biography would understand that he was condemned to death for the action of trying to over through Hitler. There are also books about the 3000 priest that stood up against Hitler.(I would love to discuss more if you like just let me know)

    The problem is that we as Christian especially in America do Christ and the following a disservice because of your Nationalism and our mind set.

    @muslims and others, yes it is true that the Muslims are supposes to kill their enemies because the Quran states that it is better than making them slaves or servants. However as christians is our job to point fingers and hollar or is it to simply be like Christ in a world that is lost. Christ told his followers to be like doves and wise as serpents amongst wolves. We have turned the American way into the Christian way but that is not what the scripture teaches. I am not pacifist i just believe in the just war. However our nationalism should not replace what the early church believed.

    Love the Muslims like Christ would of, also if the persecute us like they do in their own countries than we should do as the early church did when rome kill them. Because in our actions and words of the love of Christ the truth and the Holy Spirit works and people come to know Christ.

    My point is stop screaming at people who support the Muslims and be a true witness for them to see the True God.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      OVER THROUGH?

      WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?

      December 25, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Chris: and please enlighten us all as to how you are so sure you have the true god

      December 25, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  9. Reality

    And we send the ultimate gift to all our Muslim sisters and brothers, Freedom!!!

    (from the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi)

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:
    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
    alone."
    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    December 25, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Mike Rotchitches

      Is your Tinfoil hat a little too tight this morning?

      December 25, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Chris Alix

      Your discussion has flaws. First of the Muslims Allah is from the 360 gods they use to worship who was the moon God. Second off Jehovah is not a true name of God. If you read Hebrew or at lease study that you would understand that. The Jews never used the letter J and so you have YHWH and Adonai. Also we as Christians believe that Christ is the way. This is were systematic theology comes into play. If the human race and all of creation is in sin than creation can not be the payment for the wrath of sin in God's eyes. Then he himself out of his love and compassion for creation sent his son and a part of him on earth to die for our sins. However because of our quest for truth and knowledge we reason our self out of the idea of a loving God and the Christ. We have to realize that God is something and someone that we will not fully understand. There in lies the answer he has a majestic essenes that is not for us to understand and thus Faith is what is required.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  10. Avgprsn

    In the quest for knowledge, it is sad when the negative on this polarized world use language agaisnt the gentle of heart as a weapon.
    There is nothing wrong with wanting to see things through every view, wanting to empathize with the cultures, faiths and spiritualisms enjoyed by diversity to find our own truths, and to come to relate to everyone.
    Why some people feel the need to try to belittle because they have soldered their own minds in he pursuit of the ego is sadder still, it means language to them is only the literal, and there is no room to dream, no room for the fantastic.
    When confronted with negative judgement, just let your own light shine.
    Whatever your belief, God bless and Merry Christmas.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Truthz

      Wat?

      December 25, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  11. Reality

    Celebrating Mythmas in the Land of Rational Thinking:

    Bring on all those danish rolls and holiday cookies!!! and now to the Rational Thinking:

    So after thorough analyses of the NT Christmas passages, what are a few of the conclusions of some of the top contemporary NT scholars?

    Matt 1:18-25: From Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 123-124, "The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical". Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    "Lüdemann [Jesus], (pp. 261-63) discounts Luke's account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. "

    Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Bruce Chilton

    "In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    John Dominic Crossan

    "In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    "In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke's account of Jesus' conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard "pagan" birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. "

    "The following ancient parallels to Jesus' miraculous conception should be noted:
    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]"

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
    in the brain of Jupiter.

    - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Audrey

      Let me say this first: I am not Christian, I do not think America should be considered a christian country, and I don't think what men believed 200 years ago is relevant to every detail of how we govern today – BUT – that Jefferson quotation is taken so far out of context that the meaning is totally warped.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Audrey

      Actually, I take that back. *I* read it out of context. I think it more or less has the gist that is implied here.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  12. Hello

    "But for some faiths, the season brings reminders of their own traditions."

    How amazingly presumptuous.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  13. Truthz

    HEY! GARBAGE TROLL! THAT COMMENT EARLIER ABOUT JESUS AND THE STANDING HERE WILL NOT FACE DEATH AND THE NOT TRUE PROPHECY IS WHAT I'VE ALWAYS SAID! OBVIOUS CONTRADICTION

    December 25, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      I KNOW – IT JUST TWISTS MY PINK HELLO KITTY PANTIES IN A KNOT

      December 25, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Truthz

      But on a serious note... You really have to twist and pull that passage to not see the obvious meaning and the obvious contradiction.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Truthz

      YOU WEARZ PINK HELLO KITTY PANTIES TOO?!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • JohnR

      That's ALL he wears! One pair worn in regular way. One pair on his head. It makes him feel important. No, I don't know WHY it makes him feel important either.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  14. Truthz

    HE HE... HA HA ... HO HO

    December 25, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    "Certain aspects of our theology are different," he (Mr. Magid) carefully notes, pointing specifically to incarnation, the Christian belief that Jesus was divine. Muslims are perhaps the most ardent monotheists in the world, making them at odds with Christians theologically over not only the Christian doctrine of incarnation, but also belief in the Trinity, that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are three in one.

    The incarnation of Jesus Christ is that essential for the Christian faith that we can never deny it. It is almost possible to say that the incarnation of Christ "is" the Christian faith.

    We believe that Jesus has borne our sins, when he died for us on the cross. This is the most striking evidence for God's infinite love. Jesus died for the sinners (for us). Only this divine love can change us and make us improve. Only this love empowers us to follow Jesus (we don't follow Jesus, in order to gain salvation, but we follow Jesus because God has saved us).

    Only God's love, which was proven by Christ's death on the cross, can tear out us out of our sinful state.

    Do you feel your sinfulness? Pray: "Oh Jesus, you died for me on the cross. Help me to overcome my sin in the power of your sacrifice."

    Jesus died for the whole mankind: Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, etc.. May they all recognize God's love in Jesus and start to follow Jesus (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7), touched by His divine love.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • gliese42

      Well said Rainer

      December 25, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @gliese42

      Which denomination do you belong to?

      December 25, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • gliese42

      Rainer@ I don't belong to any denomination but my parents do. Denominations divide and I hate that

      December 25, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • gliese42

      Helo@ Whatever you say but my point is there are Jews who believe in Christ and that is all.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @gliese42

      Up to 600 after Christ there was only one Christian Church on earth. Then the Roman Church seperated by papacy (yet before the Copts and the Nestorians had seperated from the true Church, but that was not that significant like the fall of the Roman Church).

      December 25, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  16. MN

    What Jews think about Juses?

    December 25, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • gliese42

      There are Jews who accept Christ but the radicals don't

      December 25, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Hello

      Gliese is wrong. Most Jews do not accept Christ. Like 99% of them. Not just "radicals."

      December 25, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • gliese42

      Like I said earlier there are Jews who accept Christ and they follow the Jewish tradition unlike Christian churches

      December 25, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Hello

      I'm just saying that it's amazing to call them "radicals" when nearly all of them (save a small handful) do not accept Christ.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • gliese42

      Please visit Israel where they practice Jewish tradition with Christian faith. They are called Jewish Christians. lol

      December 25, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • Hello

      Right. They are an extreme minority. They are the radical ones.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • gliese42

      Helo# Now its your turn to proof it

      December 25, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • Hello

      When you say it is "my turn" to prove it, that implies that you proved something. However, you just made a statement and did not prove a thing. Merry Christmas. (I'm not a believer but I have no problem saying that to people).

      December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  17. Joe B

    Does the Imam think Jesus is a unifying figure for Muslims and Christians when the Muslims are attacking and killing Christians in the streets of Egyptian cities?

    December 25, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • gliese42

      I am afraid that the next target will be Syrian Christians

      December 25, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • VoxVerum

      Muslims don't hold a monopoly on religiously based violence. Remove the plank from your own eye.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  18. Frank Bund

    Like I said, Hitler was a christian.

    Merry Christmas, stupid bible thumpers.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Carol

      A lot of people claim to be Christians, but that doesn't mean they are.

      Merry Christmas!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • JohnR

      @Carol No true Scotsman fallacy!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Carol: JohnR is right but to clarify...Hitler was smart and denounced Catholicism, he was not intelligent enough to denounce christrardology or in his actions to try to ensure it was one race and only one race....sounds more like a christard than it does anything...christards only wish for christards in this world, otherwise they think everyone else is wrong. So please tell us what makes a true christard and how do you cherry pick this?

      December 25, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • james

      Hitler was a tool of Satan while professing to be a Christian – Satan walks in many guises tainting people as well as twisting their minds – you need to be careful that he does not get a bigger hold on you – pray to God with an open heart and he will listen – Happy Birthday to my savior and our lord Jesus Christ.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • JohnR

      Right, and the protestants say the pope is a tool of satan and the catholics say Martin Luther is a tool of satan, etc, etc,

      But more to the point about Hitler. Yes, he USED Christianity, just as the American right wing is USING it today!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Hitler may have been the leader but it was his underlings, not that one man, that carried out all those killings. The German people responsible were indeed mostly Christians.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @AtheistSteve: While I could very well walk downstairs and say this...I agree but like with Bin Laden, the people carrying out those crimes also feared for their own safety. Some of those people were more in tuned to what Hitler's overall plan was than others. If you were told kill or be killed, you'd more than likely kill.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      "james
      Hitler was a tool of Satan while professing to be a Christian – Satan walks in many guises tainting people as well as twisting their minds – you need to be careful that he does not get a bigger hold on you – pray to God with an open heart and he will listen – Happy Birthday to my savior and our lord Jesus Christ."

      Once again the no true scotsman fallacy.
      Today is not jesus' birthday. It is the birthday of numerous people but not jesus...jesus was born in the spring and this is the day the christards stole from the pagans. Sadly enough you are not educated enough to realize the truth.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • faberm

      Hitler never claimed to be a Christian. HE followed the stars and was trying to return Germany to its pre Christian pagan beliefs. You guys need to read history and/or watch the History Channell. It's on all the time.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  19. Edward Saugstad

    May we all find the central ground beyond dogma and tunnel vision ...
    http://edwardsaugstad.com/wishing-us-all-a-very-merry-always/

    December 25, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  20. gliese42

    The Koran also says that one must lie to adjust with the enemy, Read the Koran when Jews and Christians couldn't accept Mohamad and its consequences. I have nothing to say about Buddhism but Hinduism practice caste system and the British wipe out suttee otherwise they will be burning widows. Although Hinduism has change but much needed to be done.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:16 am |
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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.