January 16th, 2013
05:09 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Wednesday, January 16, 2013

By Arielle Hawkins, CNN

Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.

From the Blog:

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes the hand of Reverend Luis León while leaving St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters.

CNN: Obama picks D.C. Episcopal priest to deliver inauguration benediction
The president has picked a neighbor to deliver the closing prayer at the inauguration. The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration. León pastors Saint John’s Church, an Episcopal parish just across Lafayette Park from the White House, dubbed the “Church of the Presidents.”

CNN iReport: Why I Raise My Children Without God
Deborah Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas, blogs about raising her children without religion. An avid reader of the Belief Blog, she said she shared this essay on CNN iReport because 'I just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me. I think people misunderstand or are fearful of people who don’t believe in God.'

Tweet of the Day:

[tweet https://twitter.com/JoelOsteen/status/291351578529636352%5D

Photos of the Day:

A Jewish man throws votive candles into a burning pyre as another blows a shofar at the grave of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzera, known as the sage Baba Sali, on January 15, 2013 in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, Israel. Thousands of Jews, mainly of Moroccan origin, gathered to pray and hold festivities at the tomb of the respected rabbi who was known as a miracle maker by religious Jews.

A Jewish man dances at the grave of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzera, known as the sage Baba Sali, on January 15, 2013 in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, Israel.

An Indian boy in costume and an adorned cattle participate in the 'Sankranti' festival celebrations in Bangalore on January 15, 2013. Sankranti, the Hindu harvest festival, marks the beginning of the month in the solar calendars followed in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa.

Belief on TV:

Enlightening Reads:

Huffington Post: Westboro Baptist Church Gets Permit To Protest President Barack Obama Inauguration
The Westboro Baptist Church has secured a permit to protest the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. A press release issued by the Westboro Baptist Church on Saturday revealed the group's plans to protest Obama's inauguration on Jan. 21. On Tuesday, The Huffington Post confirmed with the National Park Service that the Westboro Baptist Church has secured a permit to picket along Pennsylvania Avenue at the north sidewalk, southeast corner of John Marshall Park, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Reuters: Saudi clerics protest against appointing women to advisory body
Dozens of Saudi clerics staged a rare protest in front of the Royal Court on Tuesday against King Abdullah's decision to appoint women to a body that advises the government on new laws, a sign of growing conservative unease at modest social reforms. On Friday, King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the Shura Council, giving them a fifth of the seats in the consultative body – a move he promised to make in 2011. The kingdom's top religious authorities including the Grand Mufti accepted that decision, but the gathering of about 50 clerics outside the Royal Court suggested wider disquiet among conservatives in the world's top oil producer.

The Guardian: Kumbh Mela festival is proof that crowds can be good for you
Once a year, at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in northern India, something truly remarkable happens. During the lunar month of Magh, spanning January and February, a vast tented city comes into being. Pilgrims (kalpwasi) gather to bathe twice daily in the Ganges and live a life of spiritual devotion. Once every 12 years at the Kumbh (full) Mela (assembly), this arguably becomes the largest city on Earth. Many millions can attend the event on a single day. Kumbh Mela is overcrowded, noisy and unsanitary, but a study suggests it improves devotees' mental and physical wellbeing.

The Guardian: Pope's secretary "Gorgeous George" on Vanity Fair cover
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict's private secretary, who has been dubbed "Gorgeous George" by the Italian media, is now a real-life cover boy. The prelate has landed on the cover of Vanity Fair. The magazine calls Ganswein "The George Clooney of St Peter's" and says it dedicated a cover story to honor his recent promotion to the rank of archbishop and as recognition of his growing power in the Roman Catholic Church.

Religion News Service: Europeans launch campaign to declare life starts at conception
Anti-abortion groups from 20 different countries have launched a petition to ask the European Parliament to recognize that life begins at conception. The “One of Us” initiative is the first of its kind in Europe and represents a larger effort to forge a cohesive continental anti-abortion movement. “At the foundation of this challenge is the idea that abortion is not inevitable,” wrote Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, presenting the initiative on Jan. 7.

Huffington Post: Tel Shiloh Archaeological Dig Pitcher Suggests Biblical City In Israel Burned To Ground
A pitcher found during an Israeli archeological dig may shed light on a biblical mystery that has gone unsolved for thousands of years. The broken clay pitcher, discovered in a bed of ashes in the Tel Shiloh dig site in Samaria, Israel, suggests that the ancient city - once the de facto capital city and spiritual center of ancient Israel - was burned to the ground, the Tazpit News Agency reports. From the news outlet: “The ashes found attest to a devastating fire the occurred at the site. The dating of the clay pitcher, 1,050 BCE, correlates with the dating of the events depicted in Book of Samuel.”

The Catholic Herald: US Franciscan province offers 'text-a-prayer-intention' service
Often, prayer intentions are offered with hands folded, but a new service allows hands and fingers to move freely - provided a cell phone is handy. The New York-based Holy Name Province of the Franciscans has started a service it calls "Text a Prayer Intention to a Franciscan Friar." The service debuted in January with the new year.

Quote of the Day:

The world is not full of good and bad people. That is not what our scriptures teach us. And when we are bad or isolated or angry or furious or vengeful or politically agitated or confused or lost or deranged or unhinged, and we have the ability to get and use weapons only designed to kill large numbers of people our society is in great danger.

- Rev. Jim Wallis, the evangelical who heads the progressive Christian group Sojourners.

Join the conversation…

CNN: 'American Taliban' wins right to group prayer in prison
The man known as the "American Taliban" won a legal fight that will allow him and fellow Muslim inmates to gather for daily prayers. A federal judge ruled Friday that the warden at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, was violating John Walker Lindh's rights by not allowing the religious activities. Lindh argued that before 2007 Muslim prisoners were allowed to pray together for at least three of Islam's five daily prayers. Since then, with the exception of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim prisoners are allowed to gather only once a week.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Science

    At its best here and peer reviewed .No go-d(s) required. Proven right here on this tread!!!


    January 18, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  2. ???????

    Reviewing the comments noticed someting interesting. Science PROVED it does not work the way the bible said it did !!!
    All the facts are here on this tread. Peer reviewed !!!

    January 18, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  3. Blacke

    I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that's cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do, Rich45.ℂOM

    January 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  4. Milton


    January 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  5. Opinionated

    I think the Bible is some truth with a lot of legend wrapped around it. Who was able to read and write when Adam and Eve would have lived? The story had to come from legend.

    January 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  6. Anglican

    Yea for the Episcopal Church. Becoming Epsicopalian is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

    January 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  7. myweightinwords

    Morning all! Hope everyone is having a good day. I'll admit I'm struggling a little bit this week. But, it is a worthy struggle, so I keep at it.

    Since I'm thinking about it, let me ask, what brings you peace when you're struggling?

    January 16, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      what brings you peace when you're struggling?

      My wife 🙂

      January 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Really??

      playing music.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Music is a big one for me. Music keeps me sane.

        January 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Ann

      Reading a good novel to help my mind escape.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Wordsmith

      I do something, anything, that I am good at and that can boost my sense of accomplishment, albeit not earthshaking nor life-changing – like solving a real hard crossword puzzle or zoning out in a Boggle-type game.

      January 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      It depends on what is causing me not to be peaceful...but for most reasons... being with hubby & family, doing something for somebody else, taking care of the animals, meditation, reading, tending plants and for all the other stuff there's codine, hydrocodone, oxycodone & morphine depending on severity.

      January 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • S-3B Viking

      @ chick

      Considering your comments about meditation and plants, have you heard of or read "Gardening at the Dragon's Gate" by Wendy Johnson

      or solely for your interest in plants: "What a Plant Knows" by Daniel Chamovitz

      Two exceptional books.

      January 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      No, I hadn't. But I am always on the prowl for a good recommendation for reading. Thanks!

      January 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • meifumado

      Drugs and booze does it for me

      January 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Susan

      Ok, this will drive all the guys crazy but I love the book "Succulent Wild Woman" cause it makes me laugh and inspires me to pick up a paint brush. Oh, and eating mangoes while naked. 😉

      January 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        I may have to look for this book!

        January 16, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Susan

      “A succulent wild woman is one of any age who feels free to fully express herself in every dimension of her life.”
      ― SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

      January 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • S-3B Viking

      Then we should all aspire to be Succulent Wild Women :0)

      January 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Michael Myers

      When I get a bit stressed, I find that putting on a mask and stabbing teenagers with a butcher knife on Halloween really sets my mind at ease.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Like a hawk on fire, I swoop!

    You have no choice but to read my words! BWAHAHAHAHA!

    January 16, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  9. Science

    This doc-umentary states it has the smoking gun. Jan 9 2013
    PBS Nova Decoding Neanderthals doc-umentary
    It is in public schools in the US already !!!
    Why is this not in the bible, the smoking gun!!!

    January 16, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Science

      Oops the smoking gun

      January 16, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Science


      January 16, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      I think this is old news. For quite a while, it's been said that Neaderthal and Cro-magnon were occupying the same territory at the same time. Jean Auel researched the science and went on anthropological digs before releasing her fictional series in 1980, so this must have been pretty well known information during at least the '70s if nor earlier. Her books not only cast the Neaderthal as having a sign language, tool making skills, rituals and culture but also had her characters engage each others camps and breed on a limited basis. It would be too coincidental for her, as a lay person, to have made this up from whole cloth just to be found correct on each scientific point after publication as fancy.

      Personally, I have no trouble believing that we have Neaderthal DNA among us today. I once reported to a manager who must have been at least 90%.

      January 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Chick – now that's odd, is it possible we once worked at the same place ??

      January 16, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Midwest, it could be. Of course, Fortune 1000 IT departments are chock full of managers with these traits. They actually train for them...it's called Six Sigma. 😉

      January 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing in 2013
    Prayer changes things

    January 16, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      January 16, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • meifumado

      Indoctrinating children into religion is akin to child abuse

      January 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  11. Santi Clause

    Re: Joel's quote "Quit worrying about people who are trying to hold you back. God will not allow anyone to keep you from your destiny."

    Sounds great. But what if that's God's plan for me?

    January 16, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Joel was misquoted. He meant God will not allow anyone to keep you from your dentistry. Joel's a good man. He wants us all to have a coprophagious grin like his.

      January 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Fil A: It's so wonderful to come here and meet up with intellectuals such as yourself.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Ooops! Sorry! That was supposed to go in a different thread.

      January 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  12. Chick-a-dee

    Darkness will not dispell darness. Only Light can dispell darkness. Hatetred will not dispell hate. Only Love can dispell hate.

    January 16, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • frank

      Ah, but can darkness misspell darkness?

      January 16, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • End Religion

      Good morning, Chick-o-crit, Queen of Hypocrisy!

      January 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Penny Lane

      Don't worry. The darkness of religion is slowly fading in the dawn of secular reason.

      The Dark Ages are almost over.

      January 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ frank: Oops! darkeness... better?

      @ End: Oh look! You missed me enough to call me out. Come on over and give me a big kiss, right on my end.

      @ Penny: No doubt because of all the sunshine you cast about.

      January 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Mary Hecht

      I'm a liar. I hope everyone can see through my Chick-a-dee persona and know that the only thing I have in my life is two cats and a bottle of Thunderbird.

      January 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • meifumado

      Your post above says like like a good read
      Please read "The God Delusion" By Richard Dawkins

      I have read many religious texts on the major and some minor religions
      How many books have you read that cast doubt on the existence of god?

      January 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ meifumado:
      "How many books have you read that cast doubt on the existence of god?"
      0 ... but I have watched video of Dawkins speaking, and I attended live presentations by Stephen Hawkins while he visited the States in 90's. Additionally, you may be surprised to hear, that as a young, snot-nosed, braying mule, I too had questioned God's existence. Fast forward to today by adding 35 years of of life experience and maturity to find I've evolved from that braying mule to a horse's pack holder – not all that far a trip. Along the way, the scenic view led to discovering some startling things about the complexity of life and interaction with both the physical and supernatural realms. It's a journey that doesn't end on this plane.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Fil A the Chik-a-dee

      No, you're still a braying jackass. You're just a braying jackass for a different point of view.

      We don't question God's existence, any more than we question Seamus The Mime Leprechaun's existence. No need: it's obvioous bullshit.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Fil A:

      Oh, you silver tongued devil! It's so wonderful to come here and meet up with individuals such as yourself intellectual
      AND persuasive. Wow! Your stunning grasp of "obvioous boollsheeet", as well as your writing skill makes me want to reevaluate everything. Yes-sir-ee...your career in sales is in the making.

      January 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
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.