“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...]

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...]

“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...]

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...]

Yes, it’s still Christmas

The lights are still ablaze in Princeton, New Jersey, where I stepped into St. Paul’s Church Thursday night and encountered the glorious scene above. The church was just lovely. Thanks to Msgr. Joseph Rosie, Deacon Jim Knipper and the wonderful folks at St. Paul’s for their hospitality and warm welcome in support of “Hungry and You [Read More...]

Now the work of Christmas begins

Lest we forget:  When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, [Read More...]

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” re-imagined for Christmas

We’ve all heard Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung in a variety of styles — from the sweetly simple to the epic and grandiose.  But you’ve probably never heard it quite like this, beautifully re-imagined for the Christmas season by the band Cloverton.   Purists will blanche.  But I loved it.  See for yourself and decide. Consider [Read More...]

What the angel REALLY told the shepherds …

Ha! [Read more...]

Photographer sends out family Christmas card—and he plays every member of the family

I guess someone at the Wall Street Journal got one: Like many of us, Gary He, 28, struggled to choose just one representative portrait of himself for his holiday card. So he used 14. He, a Brooklyn-based photographer, always puts a lot of thought, effort and money into his holiday card. Last year, he riffed [Read More...]

A Christmas classic: the nativity scene of Mr. Bean

‘Tis the season for playing with your creche! Back by popular demand: a Christmas favorite of The Bench, and one that never fails to make me smile. Enjoy. [Read more...]


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