Tag Archives: Religion

Nuns Show Support for Healthcare Bill

Posted by: Bluedog89

Nuns show support for the hotly-debated healthcare reform bill.

AP ~ In a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation’s 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging lawmakers to pass the Senate health care bill. Expected to come before the House by this weekend, the measure contains abortion funding restrictions that the bishops say don’t go far enough.

“Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions,” said the letter signed by 60 leaders of women’s religious orders. “It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments … in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Right to Life Committee have denounced the bill as a backdoor subsidy for abortion. But the nuns and the Catholic Health Association – representing some 600 hospitals – say restrictions in the Senate bill would still prevent taxpayer funding for abortion, although the legal mechanism for doing so is different from what the bishops prefer.

“This is politics; this isn’t a question of faith and morals,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social activism lobby. “We are the ones who work every day with people who are suffering because they don’t have health care. We cannot turn our backs on them, so for us, health care reform is a faith-based response to human need.”

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Daily Show Ridicules Hume On Tiger And Jesus (VIDEO)

Last night The Daily Show turned its attention to Brit Hume’s comments from this past Sunday, and reiterated Monday night, that Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity in order to find redemption.

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The History of Christmas

People all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th. But why is the Nativity marked by gift giving, and was He really born on that day? And just where did the Christmas tree come from? Take an enchanting tour through the history of this beloved holiday and trace the origins of its enduring traditions. Journey back to the earliest celebrations when the infant religion embraced pagan solstice festivals like the Roman Saturnalia and turned them into a commemoration of Jesus’ birth. Learn how Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to the English-speaking world in 1841, and discover how British settlers in the New World transformed the patron saint of children into jolly old St. Nick.

We’re going to explore the origin of Christmas and how it came to be the way we know it today.

An Ancient Holiday

Norse God Oden

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The Yule Log

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.
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Saturnalia

Ancient Romans Celebrating Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

Lord of Misrule

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.
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An Outlaw Christmas

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, canceled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
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Christmas Reinvented

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
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A Christmas Carol

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

1881 illustration by Thomas Nast who, with Clement Clarke Moore, helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards, and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

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L.A. Episcopal Diocese elects first woman bishop in its history

posted by GeoT

The Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected the first woman bishop in its 114-year history today but had yet to decide whether to select an openly gay priest for a second bishop opening.

Clergy and lay leaders, meeting in Riverside for their annual convention, chose the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, a local favorite from Orange County known for her financial expertise and ability to build up congregations.

Bruce, rector of St. Clement’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, edged out five other candidates, including two openly gay priests, for the first “suffragan” bishop post. Suffragan bishops assist a diocese’s primary bishop.

“All my life I have known that I have been called to serve God in Christ in God’s church,” Bruce wrote in her biography on the diocese’s website.

Bruce, who was elected on the convention’s third ballot, received a majority of votes from both clergy and lay delegates. She appeared to benefit from a strong Orange County showing, but delegates said she was elected because she was the most qualified candidate.

“She’s a known quantity,” said the Rev. Warren Nyback, a retired diocesan priest and convention delegate. “It’s an indication that the diocese is getting tired of male bishops. There’s been a yearning for a long time, especially among women clergy.”

Bruce — and the successful candidate for the second open position — must be confirmed by a majority of the national church’s bishops and of diocesan “standing committees,” which include clergy and lay representatives. Voting for the second position was beginning this afternoon; it was not clear when it would be completed.

If either of the gay candidates is elected, it would mark the first election of an openly gay Episcopal bishop since the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson was chosen bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

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Rev. Mary Glasspool

Update: 2nd gay bishop for Episcopal Church, Anglicans
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has elected a lesbian as assistant bishop, the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship, which is already deeply fractured over the first. The Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore needs approval from a majority of dioceses across the church before she can be consecrated as assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.

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White House Celebrates the 540th Anniversary of the Birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

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Guru Nanak Dev ji

Guru Nanak Dev ji 1469-1539

Whitehouse.gov—On Friday we hosted a reception commemorating the 540th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru in Sikhism. It was the first time that this holiday has ever been celebrated at the White House. Members of the Sikh community from around the country were invited to celebrate the occasion with traditional hymns led by the Sikh Kirtani Chanters from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. Several administration officials were in attendance, including Dr. John Holdren (Office of Science & Technology Policy), Tina Tchen (Office of Public Engagement), Michael Strautmanis (Chief of Staff to Valerie Jarrett), Adolfo Carrion (Urban Affairs), and Nancy Anne DeParle (Health Reform).

Representatives from the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, United Sikhs, and other grassroots leaders came together to recognize the important contributions of Sikhs to our national life. The first Sikhs arrived as laborers in the western United States around 1899 and gradually moved around the country. They went on to become owners of successful businesses, serve honorably in the U.S. military in both world wars and other conflicts, lawyers, doctors, bankers, and members of many other professions.

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Mystery Solved?– Italian scientist reproduces Shroud of Turin

posted by GeoT

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake.

The shroud, measuring 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches bears the image, eerily reversed like a photographic negative, of a crucified man some believers say is Christ.
“We have shown that is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud,” Luigi Garlaschelli, who is due to illustrate the results at a conference on the para-normal this weekend in northern Italy, said on Monday.

The Shroud of Turin shows the back and front of a bearded man with long hair, his arms crossed on his chest, while the entire cloth is marked by what appears to be rivulets of blood from wounds in the wrists, feet and side.

Carbon dating tests by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona in 1988 caused a sensation by dating it from between 1260 and 1390. Sceptics said it was a hoax, possibly made to attract the profitable medieval pilgrimage business.
But scientists have thus far been at a loss to explain how the image was left on the cloth.

Garlaschelli reproduced the full-sized shroud using materials and techniques that were available in the middle ages.
They placed a linen sheet flat over a volunteer and then rubbed it with a pigment containing traces of acid. A mask was used for the face.
PIGMENT, BLOODSTAINS AND SCORCHES
The pigment was then artificially aged by heating the cloth in an oven and washing it, a process which removed it from the surface but left a fuzzy, half-tone image similar to that on the Shroud. He believes the pigment on the original Shroud faded naturally over the centuries.
They then added blood stains, burn holes, scorches and water stains to achieve the final effect.
The Catholic Church does not claim the Shroud is authentic nor that it is a matter of faith, but says it should be a powerful reminder of Christ’s passion.
One of Christianity’s most disputed relics, it is locked away at Turin Cathedral in Italy and rarely exhibited. It was last on display in 2000 and is due to be shown again next year.

Con’t: Here

NOTE: THE RETURN: Famed Shroud Of Turin Displayed In Public

TURIN, Italy — The long linen with the faded image of a bearded man is the object of centuries-old fascination and wonderment, and closely kept under wrap. Starting Saturday, and for six weeks, both the curious and those convinced the Turin Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ can have a brief look.

By late Friday, 1.5 million people had reserved their three-to-five-minute chance to gaze at the cloth, which is kept in a bulletproof, climate-controlled case. Organizers said earlier this year they hoped some 2 million pilgrims and tourists would see the linen
during the special viewing from April 10 to May 23 2010.

Shroud Of Turin 2010 – The real face of Jesus

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Five Supreme Court Cases to Watch This Term

posted by GeoT

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Justices of the Supreme Court 2009-10 term

Justices of the Supreme Court 2009-10 term

The U.S. Supreme Court reconvenes for its 2009-10 term on Oct. 5, with most of the attention going to the court’s freshest face, newly confirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayor. But Sotomayor and her eight colleagues won’t have a lot of time for orientation: the court will start immediately on a docket of controversial cases that will call on Justices to consider new facets of the Establishment Clause, gun ownership and prison terms for minors, among other issues. In total, the Justices have already agreed to hear 55 cases in the new term. Here are five to keep an eye on.

* Salazar v. Buono
At issue: Whether the government can permit the display of a crucifix on public land as per the Establishment Clause.

* Maryland v. Shatzer
At issue: The scope of the rights of police suspects, as given in the court’s landmark 1966 decision, Miranda v. Arizona.

*Graham v. Florida / Sullivan v. Florida
At issue: Whether life imprisonment for juveniles on nonhomicide charges constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

*National Rifle Association v. Chicago / McDonald v. Chicago
At issue: Second Amendment rights to gun ownership.

*American Needle v. National Football League
At issue: Whether sporting leagues should be exempt from antitrust regulations.

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Preview: “Supreme Court Week” on C-span

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