Happy Holidays: only half of Americans see Christmas as a religious holiday

Details from HuffPo:  As the center of the biggest commercial season in the U.S., it’s no surprise that a majority of Americans — Christian or not — observe Christmas. But a new survey shows that while nine in 10 Americans take part in the holiday that theologically commemorates the birth of Jesus, only about half [Read More...]

How to have a Pope Francis-style Christmas

Some advice from a professor at Santa Clara University: Time Magazine‘s pick of Pope Francis as “Person of the Year” came as no shock to those paying attention to the way the pontiff connects with the masses and inspires people of any faith to focus on what’s important. The pope chose his name from the [Read More...]

This Sunday, we rejoice. But why do we wear rose? Why not another color?

A lot of people have wondered. Last weekend, when someone asked about it, my pastor joked, “You want to know? Check ‘The Deacon’s Bench’!” Heh. I was curious myself, and after digging through mounds of meaningless googling which said, again and again, “It’s because we rejoice,” I dug up this explanation, which is one of [Read More...]

Rebirth: Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity undergoing major renovation

From AP:  As visitors descend upon Bethlehem this holiday season, they will notice a different look for the Church of the Nativity. Wrapped in scaffolding, the basilica located at the traditional site of Jesus’ birth is undergoing a much-needed facelift after 600 years. Experts say that water is leaking from the rooftop and threatens to [Read More...]

Is this Christmas billboard un-Christian?

A Jewish friend posted this on Facebook, and I think the author—who is Jewish—has a good point. Details:  While recently driving through one of those long rural stretches that blur the lines between Midwest and South, I saw a large billboard that said in cheery letters: “Happy Holidays!” But the billboard featured an angry red [Read More...]

Welcome to the “Harvard of Santa Schools”

Who knew? From the AP: Last year, Catholic Online profiled the school, too: Began in 1937 by Charles W. Howard, who originally served as Santa for Macy’s, Howard sought to indoctrinate the utmost values and etiquette in those looking to wear the fur-trimmed cap. The Santa Claus school is now run by Tom and Holly [Read More...]

The real “war on Christmas”: it’s not what you think

Some provocative and inspiring words from Fr. Peter-Michael Preble, an Orthodox priest: Are you, as a Christian, prevented by anyone from setting up a Christmas tree in your home? Are you, as a Christian, prevented from attending the church of your choice on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Are you, as a Christian, prevented from [Read More...]

Flash mob, you had me at “Jesu”

I’m shamelessly stealing this from The Anchoress, who is right: I’m a sucker for this stuff. I haven’t seen any decent Christmas flash mobs this year. Until now. Right out of the gate, this one is sensational: heartfelt, surprising, and just thrilling.  I’m loving it. Just watch the Air Force Band redefine the flash mob [Read More...]

War on Christmas? Maybe not.

From the Nashville Tennesseean, via USA TODAY:  Nothing in evangelical Christian author Rachel Held Evans’ five years of blogging has gone as viral as her simple little flowchart to determine if one is being persecuted during the Christmas season. “Did someone threaten your life, safety, civil liberties or right to worship?” it asks. No. “Did someone [Read More...]

Deck the halls—and just see what four guys can do on one piano

These guys are apparently quite the sensation on the interwebs, but they’re new to me: The Piano Guys, four faithful Mormons who make amazing piano music.  Their latest: this lovely rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” performed as you’ve never heard (or seen) before, with one piano making some amazing sounds. Just watch. [Read more...]