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April 11th, 2013
03:21 PM ET

A papal portrait ... made out of condoms

(CNN)–An artist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has created a unique portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

Buddhas in 3-D: Technology and the battle to preserve Asia's heritage
Viewers look at a digital representation of a 1,500 year old Buddhist grotto.
January 15th, 2013
05:41 AM ET

Buddhas in 3-D: Technology and the battle to preserve Asia's heritage

By Katie Hunt, for CNN

Hong Kong (CNN) - A darkened room in a Hong Kong university building is an unlikely portal into an ancient world.

But with the touch of an iPad Mini, the space is digitally transformed into a 1,500-year-old Buddhist grotto. Its walls decorated with exquisite but faded paintings of enlightened beings, dancers and musicians.

Another swipe and a pair of 3-D glasses brings the cave to life.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Art • Buddhism • Technology

October 31st, 2012
07:28 AM ET

Sistine Chapel ceiling turns 500 years old

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(CNN)– Michelangelo's fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, one of the world's most iconic pieces of art, celebrated its 500th anniversary on Wednesday in Vatican City. Pope Benedict XVI marked the occasion with the celebration of Vespers in the chapel on Wednesday evening.

Nine centered panels in the ceiling fresco show stories from the book of Genesis, fanning out from the center of the ceiling with the iconic "Creation of Adam" that shows God reaching down from heaven and touching the finger of Adam. The vaulted ceiling also features images of biblical prophets and ancestors of Jesus.

Work on the ceiling began in 1508 when Pope Julius II della Rovere decided to make some changes to the room including the ceiling alteration. He commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling and the lunettes, which are the upper parts of the room. According to the Vatican, Julius dedicated the newly decorated space with a Mass on the Feast of All Saints Day, which falls on November 1.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Art • Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

Mosaic in Israel shows biblical Samson
July 5th, 2012
03:29 AM ET

Mosaic in Israel shows biblical Samson

By Joe Sterling, CNN

(CNN) - Archaeologists are reveling in the discovery of an ancient synagogue in northern Israel, a "monumental" structure with a mosaic floor depicting the biblical figure of Samson and a Hebrew inscription.

The synagogue - dating to the fourth and fifth centuries in both the Talmudic and late Roman periods - is in Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in the country's Galilee region, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said.

Jodi Magness, a professor of early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the building was found in a recent excavation.

FULL STORY
- CNN's Laura Koran

Filed under: Art • Israel • Judaism

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.

It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.

But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Books • Church • Culture wars • Easter • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

My Take: 9/11 Memorial not sacred enough
The names at the 9/11 Memorial are overly segmented, the author argues.
February 27th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

My Take: 9/11 Memorial not sacred enough

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Sunday was the 19th anniversary of the first World Trade Center terrorist attack, which claimed 6 lives on February 26, 1993. I took this occasion as a chance to see the 9/11 Memorial, which remembers these six victims alongside the 2977 people killed on September 11, 2001, in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

I have been writing recently about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lower Manhattan site is obviously influenced by that design. So it is hard to avoid comparisons. There are the granite walls, though in the New York memorial there is flowing over them. And there are the names of the dead, though in New York they are cut through bronze rather than inscribed on granite.

But the spirit of the 9/11 Memorial is very different.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 9/11 • Art • New York • Sacred Spaces • United States

Islamic center near ground zero touts first big event as center’s grand opening
The site of the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan.
September 19th, 2011
10:28 AM ET

Islamic center near ground zero touts first big event as center’s grand opening

By Heather M. Higgins,CNN

New York (CNN) - Earlier this month, signs of life returned to what was once a gaping pit, frozen in sadness and rife with emotion, as part of the memorial at the World Trade Center opened on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

This week, another grand opening – this one steeped in controversy – is scheduled for just a few blocks away from the site where the Twin Towers once stood.

The first part of Park51, the planned Lower Manhattan Islamic community center that sparked an international controversy last year, is set to open Wednesday with an art exhibit that features photographs of children.

“It is a huge step forward,” said Katerina Lucas, Park51’s chief of staff. “I hope it shows we are about inclusion, not exclusion.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Islam • New York

Artist behind inflatable chapel aims to redefine sacred space
The inflatable chapel opened at the University of Southern California in August.
August 31st, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Artist behind inflatable chapel aims to redefine sacred space

By Rosalina Nieves, CNN

Los Angeles, California (CNN) - At first glance, the blown-up plastic bags affixed to a jungle gym-like frame residing in a University of Southern California courtyard looks like a piece of public art, pure and simple.

But the structure's creator says it’s something more: a sacred place for people of all faiths. He calls it an inflatable chapel.

“I wanted to create a spiritual structure, so I combined every symbolic piece of religion and geometrically combined them to represent them in this chapel,” says Gail Peter Borden, an architect and assistant professor at the USC School of Architecture who designed the structure.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • California • Church

Relics from Pakistan's multicultural past
August 22nd, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Museum exhibit highlights Pakistan's Buddhist roots

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - A statue resembling the goddess Athena and jewelry bearing images from Greco-Roman mythology may not be objects you'd expect to see in a museum exhibit of Buddhist art from Pakistan.

Their presence among carvings of Buddha and Indian deities is meant to serve as a reminder of Pakistan's oft-forgotten multicultural roots, which form the basis of a new exhibit, "The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara."

The show, which runs until October 30 at New York's Asia Society, is the first to bring works of Gandharan art to the United States since 1960. The pieces, on loan from museums in Karachi and Lahore, highlight Pakistan's history as a crossroads of cultural influences, despite present-day associations of the country as an incubator of religious extremism, museum director Melissa Chiu said.

Read the full story on the exhibit showcasing Pakistan's Buddhist art
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Buddhism • Pakistan

Where would Jesus jam? 1800s church hosts SXSW concerts
Joseph Moore is a co-pastor at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, which hosts SXSW concerts.
March 20th, 2011
11:18 AM ET

Where would Jesus jam? 1800s church hosts SXSW concerts

Central Presbyterian Church only has two rules for rockers who play its sanctuary as part of South by

Southwest: Don’t drink; and don’t shatter the stained glass.

Other than that, pretty much anything goes.

“No one’s bitten the head off a bat so far,” said co-pastor Joseph Moore – testament to the fact that the minimal rules have worked out fine so far.

This is the sixth year the Central Presbyterian Church has been an official concert venue for this wild music festival in Austin, Texas, and it’s become one of the hippest places to watch a live music here. The reasons are kind of obvious when you think about it: After a week of wandering streets awash with trash water and wobble-walking drunks, the church lets concert goes sit down and actually listen to music for music’s sake. Few talk through performances in the sanctuary, and the vaulted ceilings and limestone walls create an amazingly clear, full sound.

It’s “one of the most pleasant places you'll ever see a show,” wrote Paste Magazine.

Read the full story here about SXSW's hottest venue, an old church.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Christianity • Church • Music

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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.

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