“The war on Christmas is over. Jesus won.”

That’s the eye-catching headline of this item in The Washington Post, summarizing a new report from those folks at Pew: A new Pew Research Center survey finds nearly three-quarters of Americans — 73 percent — believe that Jesus was literally born to a virgin. This is especially surprising when you consider that only one third of Americans say that [Read More…]

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Christmas music: Do you hear what I hear? Again and again and again?

From Nate Silver’s website comes this interesting look at the music we keep hearing during this time of year:  Radio’s wall-to-wall holiday format is a recent development. Of course, stations in the past played some Christmas music on Dec. 24 and 25, but the vast majority of soft-rock stations began switching to all-holiday soundtracks in [Read More…]

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“Grossly offensive” Satanic holiday display approved for Florida Capitol

From The Orlando Sentinel:  Unlike last year, a Satanic Temple display will be officially welcome inside Florida’s Capitol during the holiday season. And Festivus, a non-commercial festival “for the rest of us,” will be back as a 6-foot stack of empty beer cans. Also expected are a pair of nativity scenes. The Florida Department of [Read More…]

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Brooklyn launches hip new ad campaign for Christmas

From the In My Backyard Desk … Hot on the heels of last year’s buzz-worthy campaign, my diocese has done it again this year for Christmas. The press release:  On Dec. 2, the Diocese of Brooklyn launched a new advertising campaign encouraging people to return to Mass. The campaign showcases different messages inviting people of [Read More…]

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“A very Franciscan Christmas…”

Some intriguing insight on Pope Francis and his personal imprint on Christmas, from the always-worthwhile John Allen in NCR:  In his brief speech to the Roman Curia on Dec. 21, Francis stressed the importance of a spirit of service in the Vatican, saying that without it, the place becomes no more than a “ponderous bureaucratic [Read More…]

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“All of life is Christmas, an eternal gift from God…”

Lest we forget, some beautiful words from my friend, Trappist Fr. James Stephen Behrens: The world is a feast of mysteries and we see but really do not understand them. We cannot penetrate them with our knowledge, our alleged sophistication. Yet they come again and again. We cannot catch them and hold them, to better [Read More…]

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VA hospital bans carolers from singing Christmas songs with religious content

Details:  The angels will not be heard on high, nor will the little Lord Jesus sleep in heavenly peace at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. The Augusta hospital announced Monday that it’s taking a stricter stance on its policy banning carolers from singing religious Christmas music in public patient areas. Last week, the facility [Read More…]

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A pastor’s investment: give each parishioner $50—and a challenge

Photo: Dan Gross/The Gazette What a great idea:  It was like a collection basket in reverse. Instead of collecting money to help the church’s outreach programs, Pastor Anne Benefield of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Potomac put money and a challenge in the hands of her parishioners. At the end of her Sept. 8 sermon, each [Read More…]

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Obama: “Service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us…”

From the President’s weekly address:  So many people all across the country are helping out at soup kitchens, buying gifts for children in need, or organizing food or clothing drives for their neighbors.  For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us [Read More…]

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Just a couple of popes, you know, hanging out…

The two living Catholics who carry the title “Pope” have swapped Christmas greetings. Details:  Pope Francis has visited his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, to exchange Christmas greetings. Photos released by the Vatican newspaper show the two men, dressed in identical white robes save for Francis’ cape, chatting in a sitting room inside Benedict’s retirement [Read More…]

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